Inspired Australia focus on the win

Michael Clarke said he was thrilled to join the cricket elite with his unbeaten 329 against India on Thursday but the important thing was to press on for victory in the second Test in Sydney.

Captain Clarke became only the sixth Australian to score a triple century as he selflessly called a halt to his team’s first innings at 659 for nine and a massive lead of 468 runs with seven and a half sessions to press for victory.

Clarke had Australian milestones at his mercy when he walked off with batting partner Mike Hussey (150) at middle session drinks satisfied he had enough runs to bring off a 2-0 lead in the four-Test series.

India lost the wickets of Virender Sehwag (4) and Rahul Dravid (29) in the 41 overs to third day stumps to be 114 for two and trailing by 354.

“It feels pretty good, but it probably won’t sink properly in until we win the Test match,” Clarke said.

“I’m stoked to have managed to make 300-odd runs today in this Test match, but the most important thing for me now is that we win the Test and that was a big reason for my declaration.”

‘The hardest thing’
Clarke said the fatigue of batting for more than 10 hours and facing 468 balls was physically and mentally taxing.

“I’ve never batted that long in any form of the game in any team, so that was the hardest thing for me,” he said.

“Physically, I felt pretty fresh but it’s just the mental application that you need to have.

“It’s a lot of stop-start, you stop for a break, you stop for drinks and you stop for the end of the day and then you have to start your innings again.”

The Australians are in a dominant position to force a win with India up against it after a mediocre 191 batting first in the Test.

“It’s gonna be a challenge. There’s not much there for the bowlers, there’s no real swing, no reverse swing, not much spin either,” he said.

“The execution and discipline we showed at the end of today is what’s going to be required to win this Test match ... We are going to have to bowl a lot of overs and hang onto our chances ...
But I’m confident, no doubt, that we’re in a good position to win this Test match. If it takes two days, it takes two days.”

‘Putting the team first’
The 30-year-old now ranks fourth behind Matthew Hayden (380), Mark Taylor (334 not out) and Don Bradman (334) in the list of highest Australian Test innings.

Clarke said he had no regrets about declaring and forfeiting his chance of surpassing their achievements.

“It’s about putting the team first, that’s why we play, that’s what I love most about this game, seeing this team win,” he said.

“If I had thought it was best for the team to continue to bat, I would have continued to bat.”—AFP

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