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Injured Clarke inspires Australia with gutsy hundred

December 10, 2014 15:45 IST
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Australia captain Michael Clarke is congratulated by Steven Smith after completing his hundred on Day 2 of the first Test against India at the Adelaide Oval on Wednesday. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Injured captain Michael Clarke made a surprise return to the crease and struck an inspiring century to put Australia in command after a rain-interrupted second day in the first Test against India on Wednesday.

Clarke retired hurt on 60 with a lower back injury on day one, but after a sleep-deprived night of treatment and pain-killing injections, the 33-year-old's courageous 128 helped drive the hosts to 517 for seven by stumps at Adelaide Oval.

Scorecard

The captain's batting partner Steven Smith joined the party and was unbeaten on 162 when umpires halted play due to poor light, with paceman Mitchell Johnson yet to score.

Smith and Clarke's 163-run stand on a day of four rain interruptions demoralised the tourists, who dropped a series of catches in a shambolic fielding display in the afternoon.

Photos from Day 2

Clarke's 28th Test century was also a record seventh at the ground and his fourth in succession dating back to an imperious 210 against the same opponents in 2012.

Smith, Clarke and David Warner, team mates of Phillip Hughes when he played for New South Wales state, have all paid tribute to the fallen batsman with hundreds at Adelaide Oval.

"The last couple of weeks have been very tough for everyone of us," Smith told reporters of the grieving for Hughes, who died after being struck in the head by a short-pitched ball.

"I was sort of hoping that all three of us could get runs. It worked out well for us in the end."

After Tuesday's brilliant sunshine, leaden skies hung over the stadium early as Australia resumed on 354-6.

Only 30 overs were bowled but it was enough play to provide stirring moments.

Smith, who started the day on 72, flicked paceman Varun Aaron off his pads to bring up his ton and jogged over to the big '408' painted on the turf in front of the Sir Donald Bradman Pavilion in tribute to Hughes, the country's 408th Test cricketer.

The in-form 25-year-old waved his bat at the number and peered at the sky, echoing Warner's gestures on day one.

Michael Clarke celebrates after getting to his hundred

Michael Clarke celebrates after getting to his hundred on Day 2 of the first Test against India at the Adelaide Oval on Wednesday. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Clarke's celebration was more muted, raising his bat to acknowledge the applause from the crowd of 15,000 before kissing the crest on his helmet after working a single away off Aaron.

The skipper has battled a back condition throughout his career and returned to the side only after passing a fitness test from a third hamstring strain in three months.

Team physio Alex Kountouris said the skipper's injury was not related to his hamstring, however, and rather related to an older complaint involving discs in his spine, an injury he last sustained 18 months before at the Champions Trophy tournament.

Clarke's was the only wicket to fall, as he swept legspinner Karn Sharma straight to Cheteshwar Pujara at square leg.

Though grief-stricken for his friend, Clarke played a leading role in supporting Hughes's family and team mates, and he trudged off the field with his head bowed as fans gave him a standing ovation.

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Source: REUTERS
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