Can the away side save the second Test after two tough days?
Where: Adelaide Oval
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Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin plundered centuries before a firebrand Mitchell Johnson blasted out England captain Alastair Cook to leave the tourists reeling in the second Ashes Test on Friday.
Skipper Clarke claimed his third century in five Ashes Tests and his 26th overall, while vice-captain Haddin smashed four sixes in his fourth Test ton to help the home side declare at 570 for nine.
Johnson, hurling down 150 km/h (93 mph) thunderbolts, knocked over Cook for three in his second over to ram home Australia’s advantage.
By the close of the second day, the tourists were hanging on against a hostile Australian attack at 35 for one with Michael Carberry on 20 and Joe Root, who took one on the chest from Johnson, not out nine.
“It was very important that we batted deep in this first innings and to get 550 on the board and that ball that got Cook was a cracker, it swung late,” Haddin said.
It was very much Australia’s day as Clarke and Haddin put on 200 runs — the highest sixth-wicket stand in all Tests in Adelaide, eclipsing the 191 shared by Imran Khan and Wasim Akram for Pakistan in 1990.
Clarke continued his love affair with the Adelaide Oval with his sixth century in nine Tests at the famous ground, while Haddin brought up his third Ashes hundred.
Clarke, dropped by Ian Bell at short leg on 91, played the captain’s knock while Haddin chanced his luck to bring up his third consecutive score over 50 in the series.
Johnson, the man-of-the-match with nine wickets in Australia’s huge 381-run win in the first Gabba Test, put the icing on the cake with the psychological wicket of Cook, who scored 148 in England’s innings win in Adelaide three years ago.
Cook was beaten by Johnson’s sheer pace with his off-stump knocked back by a beautiful swinging delivery to a huge roar from the 35,000 Adelaide crowd.
It was Australia’s positivity from the day’s opening over that swung the match after it was even-stevens on the opening day.
Clarke was finally caught by a diving Jimmy Anderson at mid-wicket on 148 to give debutant Ben Stokes his first Test wicket.
It gave Clarke 1,008 runs this calendar year at 53.05 and it was his fourth Test century of the year.
Haddin rode his luck for his 118, containing five sixes and 11 boundaries.
England suffered a cruel blow when Haddin was given out for a catch behind off Stokes for 51, only to be recalled by the umpire when Stokes was found to have over-stepped for a no-ball — cancelling out his first Test wicket.
“It was pretty frustrating, obviously. I had to put that behind me,” Stokes said. “It has been a very tough two days. We’ve got to put that behind us now and focus on what’s ahead, which is to bat long.”
In scenes reminiscent of the bad-tempered first Test in Brisbane, Haddin and Stokes sniped at each other after the over and South African umpire Marais Erasmus had to intervene to keep the players apart.
Carberry, who dropped Haddin late on the first day, gave the Australia wicketkeeper another “life”.
Clarke darted off for a quick single off Monty Panesar and with Carberry’s throw from behind the wicket wide, wicketkeeper Matt Prior could not effect the run out of Haddin on 18.
Following Clarke’s dismissal, Australia lost the wickets of Johnson (5) and Peter Siddle (2) before fast bowler Ryan Harris continued the plunder with consecutive sixes off spinner Graeme Swann as he reached his second Test half-century on 55 when Clarke called a halt with 21 overs left.
Australia clouted a record 12 sixes in an Ashes innings, which bettered the previous 10 by England at Edgbaston in 2005.
Stuart Broad finished the best of the battered England bowlers with three for 98, while spinners Swann (two for 151) and Panesar (one for 157) took plenty of punishment.
The Australia and England teams wore black armbands and bowed their heads in a minute’s silence for Nelson Mandela before the start of the play.