Australia and India honoured Phillip Hughes in the best way possible at Adelaide Oval, producing a sparkling day of Test cricket steeped in emotion. Honours were ultimately shared as Australia reached 6-354 at stumps, with the highlight undoubtedly David Warner’s stirring century.
Following touching pre-match tributes to Hughes, Warner made a blistering start to the Australian innings, racing to 35 off just 17 balls with seven boundaries. It was at once inspiring and liberating after two weeks of crushing grief.
Chris Rogers’ struggles continued when he fell for just 9 off Ishant Sharma’s bowling, while Shane Watson made just 14 to leave Australia at 2/88.
Warner’s first landmark moment came when he reached 63 – the unbeaten score Hughes was on when he received his fatal injury at the SCG.
— CommentaryBoxSports (@Comm_Box_Sports) December 9, 2014
After a watchful start, Michael Clarke – Australia’s tower of strength off the field in recent weeks – began to score freely, before Warner brought up the most emotional century imaginable in unforgettable scenes.
Clarke advanced to 60, but was forced to retire hurt after suffering from back spasms in a worrying sign for the Australian team.
— K Y L Y C L A R K E (@KylyClarke) December 9, 2014
Warner’s spectacular 162-ball innings came to end at 145, holing out to Karn Sharma at deep midwicket with Australia still comfortable at 3/258.
Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh put on 87 before Marsh became Varun Aaron’s second victim, out for 41. Smith forged ahead to 72 not out by the end of the day’s play, but nightwatchman Nathan Lyon was bowled for Mohammed Shami for 3, before Shami had Haddin caught behind for a five-ball duck in the final over of the day.
Stud of the day
Warner’s knock was sensational – even by his swashbuckling standards. Under the circumstances, it was simply magnificent and it is destined to go down as one of the defining moments of his career. His tearful skyward gazes and poignant embrace with Clarke were goosebump-inducing.
Clarke’s injury could have significant implications not only for this match, but for Australia’s short- and long-term future. His ongoing ailments are becoming increasingly difficult to battle through and he may now have to face up to the prospect of an extended break.
Australia batted superbly, ticking along at almost four an over, but India’s late rally – and the likelihood of Clarke not playing any further part in the Test – has left the match evenly poised. The tourists need early scalps, because Siddle, Harris and Johnson are capable of supporting the in-form Smith and assisting him to a big score and Australia towards 500.
Clarke’s unbeaten score helped him keep his average at Adelaide Oval at an incredible 103 in 16 innings, including six centuries. Lindsay Hassett (five innings @ 128.25) and Don Bradman (11 innings @ 107.77) are the only players with better averages at the venue, while Brian Lara (8 innings @ 76.25) and Michael Hussey (14 innings @ 74.45) round out the top five.
Around the world
An unbeaten 105 by Ross Taylor was not enough to secure victory for New Zealand in the first ODI against Pakistan at Dubai. Taylor received little support as the Black Caps limped through to 7/246 in their 50 overs, but Pakistan was in trouble at 5/86 in the 26th over. Haris Sohail (85 not out off 109 balls) and veteran skipper Shahid Afridi (61 off 51 balls) steered the ‘home’ side to a three-wicket win with three balls to spare with a 110-run stand.