Ricky Ponting's first century for two years sees Australia take control against India


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The Independent Online

A career-high double century from skipper Michael Clarke and a drought-breaking ton for Ricky Ponting left Australia in complete control against India at stumps on day two of the second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

It was a day of total dominance for the hosts who piled on 366 runs for the loss of just one wicket to reach 482 for four, leading by 291 runs with three days still to play.

Clarke (251 not out) and Ponting (134) set the tone with a breathtaking 288-run stand before Michael Hussey (55 not out) joined his captain in an unbeaten century partnership to complete a miserable day for the tourists.

While former skipper Ponting's first Test century in 721 days kept the 30,077 crowd on the edge of their seats, the day belonged to his successor who pummelled a listless Indian attack to all parts of the ground.

The captain smashed 31 boundaries and a six in his unbeaten 438-minute, 342-ball knock to post the highest ever Test score by an Australian at the SCG.

He surpassed Doug Walters' 242 against the West Indies in 1968/69 with a blistering cover drive off Zaheer Kahn to cap a memorable day on his home ground.

Clarke's only false stroke came on 182 when Ishant Sharma dropped a tough chance off his own bowling.

Having reached his 18th Test century with a cracking cover drive for four off Sharma (one for 106) on the first ball of the final over before lunch, Clarke continued to feast on some lacklustre bowling in ideal batting conditions.

The 30-year-old brought up his double ton with a leg-side flick off Umesh Yadav midway through the evening session.

The captain raised his right arm in triumph as he turned for a second run before high-fiving Hussey mid-pitch and saluting the boisterous SCG faithful.

Hussey got in on the act with some lusty late hitting including a straight six off Ravi Ashwin before reaching his half-century.

Earlier, an edgy Ponting survived a near run out to notch up his first century in nearly two years.

Ponting, who was forced to endure a nervous wait after heading to lunch on 97, pushed Sharma to Zaheer at mid-on and took off for a suicidal single.

Zaheer's throw missed by centimetres as a desperate Ponting dived for the crease.

Replays showed a direct hit would have had the former Australian captain out by at least half a metre.

A relieved Ponting, his shirt covered in dirt, got to his feet and raised his arms in triumph.

It was his first ton since making 209 against Pakistan in Hobart on January 14, 2010 and his first at the SCG in six years.

He went 34 innings between centuries, passing 50 on 10 occasions in that time.

The former captain's chanceless innings ended late in the middle session when he steered a delivery from Sharma straight to Sachin Tendulkar.

But it was the only piece of joy on a dark day for the visitors.