ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday June 01, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 53

Clarke eyes Test hundred as Australia get stronger

ST JOHN'S, Antigua, May 31, 2008 (AFP) - Michael Clarke was within sight of his seventh hundred as Australia continued to bat themselves into an impregnable position before lunch in the second Test against West Indies on Saturday. At the interval, Australia, choosing to bat, reached 360 for five in their first innings with Clarke unbeaten on 85 and Brad Haddin not out on 33 on the second day of the Test at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.

Australia's Michael Clarke bats against West Indies during the second day of the second cricket test in St. John's, Antigua . REUTERS

The pair has added 64 for the sixth wicket to consolidate Australia's position, after they continued from their bedtime total of 259 for three. Clarke, the Australia vice-captain, looked in fine touch from the time he arrived at the crease the about 45 minutes before the scheduled close.

He has stroked the ball with crisp assurance with his classical driving, particularly through the arc between extra cover and mid-off, where he has gathered the majority of his 11 fours. Clarke reached his 50, when he caressed a delivery from Jerome Taylor to mid-off and scrambled a single.

The innings has been all the more remarkable, considering he arrived in the Caribbean two weeks later than the rest of the squad, after he was granted compassionate leave to attend the funeral of the father of his fiancee. But Clarke had a huge slice of fortune, when wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin dropped him on 63 down the leg-side.

Clarke anchored Australia through the morning period, although the visitors lost the wickets of century-maker Simon Katich and Andrew Symonds. Katich was caught down the leg-side, when he feathered his 248th delivery from Taylor in the same over that Clarke reached his half-century.

Andrew Symonds arrived and looked set to play in much the same style that he did in the opening Test, but he tried to glance a delivery from Fidel Edwards and was also caught down the leg-side for 18. Australia lead the three-Test series 1-0, after they completed a 95-run victory in the opening Test last Monday at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica.

Australia have now won 13 of the last 14 Tests they have contested against West Indies and need only a draw to secure their hold on the Frank Worrell Trophy - symbol of Test supremacy against West Indies. The Aussies have not lost a Test series in the Caribbean since 1991.

The third and final Test between the two sides starts on June 12 at Kensington Oval in Barbados.

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