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Adelaide Test: Clarke ton gives Australia solid lead

ADELAIDE: Injured Australia captain Michael Clarke completed an inspiring century after lunch on day two of the first test against India on Wednesday, having returned to the crease following pain-killing injections on his back.

The 33-year-old flicked a single off his pads to bring up the milestone on a rainy afternoon and was given a standing ovation by the Adelaide Oval crowd.

Michael Clarke’s 128 was a record seventh ton by a player at Adelaide Oval and came after centuries to his New South Wales team mates David Warner (145) and Steven Smith (162 not out).

It was also the skipper’s fourth in succession in tests at the ground, a streak of dominance dating back to an imperious 210 against the same opponents, and left him with a Bradman-esque average of 100.50 in Adelaide.

“He just came out and played beautifully,” Smith told reporters. “I think a few shots hurt him but he got himself into as many good positions as he could I guess manipulated the field a little bit as well so he played beautifully under the circumstances.”

Though Warner and Smith both looked up to the sky in tribute to their fallen team mate Phillip Hughes, Clarke’s celebration was more muted, raising his bat to acknowledge the applause before kissing the crest on his helmet.

He was on 60 on Tuesday when he retired hurt after twisting to avoid a short ball.

The injury immediately raised doubt over his playing the rest of the four-match series as well as his ability to lead Australia into the 50-over World Cup early next year.

Clarke was only playing after coming through a fitness test on a third hamstring strain in three months, problems which are related to his long-term degenerative back injury.

Though helped by some inconsistent bowling from India and a flat wicket, he was in clear discomfort as he battled to the ton, grimacing after certain shots and running slowly between the wickets.

Team physio Alex Kountouris said the skipper was struggling with “quite a significant back injury” related to his spinal discs but had been determined to “give it a go”.

It emerged Clarke had hardly slept, having been worked on by staff for most of the night, a point underlined by the tired sweep shot that saw him caught at square leg late in the day. (Reuters)

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