Clarke dominates as Australia stretches lead

Michael Clarke's fifth century of 2012 was the high point of day two of the second Test as Australia reached 8-440 to stretch its first-innings lead over Sri Lanka to 284.

Sri Lanka reduced Australia to 6-315 with a burst of three quick wickets before tea on Thursday, however No. 8 Mitchell Johnson (73 not out) ensured the home side's tail wagged in front of 39,486 fans at the MCG.

Johnson is chasing his second Test hundred when play resumes on Friday with Nathan Lyon yet to score.

Clarke hit 106 to become Australia's highest Test runscorer in a calendar year with 1595 runs at a Bradmanesque average of 106.33.

The Australian captain, who batted superbly despite straining a hamstring in last week's first Test win in Hobart, struck 14 boundaries off 187 deliveries.

Shane Watson (83) and Clarke added 194 for the fourth wicket before falling in consecutive overs.


Clarke was caught at third slip at 4-311 and Watson holed out to the leg-side boundary two runs later.

It was yet another near-miss for Watson whose 38-Test career has included two hundreds and 19 half-centuries.

Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade (one) also holed out with a hook shot as Australia lost 3-4.

The short, stocky spinner Rangana Herath took a spectacular diving catch in his left thumb and forefinger at long-on to dismiss Mike Hussey for 34 at 7-376 after adding 61 with Johnson.

Peter Siddle (13) shared a valuable stand of 58 with Johnson.

Herath, the leading wicket-taker in Tests in 2012, bowled without luck and conceded 0-95 runs from his 39 overs. Pacemen Dhammika Prasad (3-102) Shaminda Eranga (2-106) worked hard on a flat track.

Clarke was dropped on five, missed at first slip on 83 and also gave a stumping chance on 54, while Watson was dropped on five and 58.

Sri Lanka's fielding errors make a tough situation even worse, given its injury problems.

Opening bowler Chanaka Welegedara left the field with a right-hamstring injury during the pre-lunch session on day two and their regular wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene sustained a fractured thumb while batting on day one.

Australia, which leads the three-match series 1-0, had resumed on 3-150 after bowling Sri Lanka out for 156.