MICHAEL Clarke batted through back pain and combined with Steven Smith to put Australia in firm control of the first Test against India on a rain-interrupted second day.
After making a strong start on their return to action for the first time since Phillip Hughes’ death, Australia moved to 517 for seven yesterday thanks to a seventh-wicket stand of 163 from Clarke and Smith.
Clarke departed for 128 late on after securing his 28th Test century, while Smith remains unbeaten on 162, but their progress was hampered by only 30.4 overs being played due to rainy conditions in Adelaide.
Australia resumed on 354 for six with Clarke – who had retired hurt on 60 on the opening day – joining Smith. Clarke looked stiff, wearing a full back brace, but was finding ways to adjust even as he operated with a minimum of movement.
At the other end, Smith had added 26 to his overnight score to move on to 98, but was then forced to endure a lengthy rain delay which stretched into the afternoon session. However, as soon as play did resume, Smith scored two off Varun Aaron to bring up his century.
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He marked it by jogging over to the giant 408 inscribed on the playing surface in tribute to Hughes, and he raised his bat to the skies.
The captain then set about chasing his own century, scoring 12 off the next over from Karn Sharma to move on to 97.
Like Smith, Clarke was left stuck on 98 when the rains came again, however after a shorter delay he scored two quick singles to bring up triple figures.
There was no grand gesture from Clarke, but after acknowledging the crowd and kissing his helmet he took a long moment to reflect before taking guard once more.
Australia had reached 473 for six when the rain came again, after which play only resumed for a short spell before the umpires called stumps due to bad light.
There was enough time for Clarke to hit two further boundaries, before wearily departing for 128.
The Australian skipper batted Karn Sharma through mid-wicket for four and then pulled Ishant Sharma on the front foot an over later, before finally falling prey to Karn Sharma in the 120th over.
Clarke went for the sweep but was caught at fine leg by Cheteshwar Pujara. After a draining week and a physically demanding few hours, the Baggy Greens’ captain looked shattered as he walked off.
Mitchell Johnson came out to the middle and faced just three balls, making no runs, before play was stopped.
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