Run machine Michael Clarke heaps misery on Sri Lanka

Clarke-Watson

Michael Clarke struck a sublime century to become his country's highest test run-scorer in a calendar year as Australia marched to an imperious 278-run lead at the close of day two of the second test against Sri Lanka on Thursday.

The Australia skipper, enjoying an inspirational 2012, surpassed the 1,544 runs Ricky Ponting amassed in 2005 during his innings of 106, before tail-ender Mitchell Johnson rubbed salt into Sri Lanka's wounds with an unbeaten 73.

Nathan Lyon, yet to score, strode off with Johnson, with Australia having added 108 runs in the session after tea to drive their total to an imposing 440-8 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Sri Lanka, skittled for 156 on day one, had only a six-run lead to protect at the start of the day's play and their hopes of restricting the hosts diminished with a hamstring injury to seamer Chanaka Welegedera in the morning session.

The remaining bowlers had little assistance from a flattening pitch on a gusty day and were put to the sword by Clarke and Shane Watson, who composed a record-breaking fourth-wicket stand of 194 against Sri Lanka at the MCG.

Clarke's fifth test ton of the year, his first at the MCG and 22nd of his career, propelled him to 1,595 runs for the year and fourth on the all-time list behind Mohammad Yousuf (1,788 runs), Viv Richards (1,710) and Graeme Smith (1,656).

The 31-year-old's dismissal, slashing a Shaminda Eranga delivery to his counterpart Mahela Jayawardene in the slips, broke his perfect record of scoring at least a double-century once he surpassed 100 in 2012.

It also sparked a mini-collapse as Watson (83) and Matthew Wade (1) fell in quick succession to ill-conceived hook-shots, both caught in the deep before tea.

FAINT HOPE

Watson's half-century was his first in eight innings and a welcome return to form, but the barrel-chested all-rounder will rue another lost chance to score his third test century.

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