Sydney, Jan 4: Michael Clarke's unbeaten double century and Ricky Ponting's first hundred in nearly two years placed Australia in total command on the second day of the second test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Clarke and Ponting shared a record 288-run partnership as Australia flayed India's attack to be 482-4 at stumps on Wednesday for a 291-run first innings lead.
Clarke is unbeaten on 251, his best test score and the highest by an Australian at the SCG, with Mike Hussey on 55 at stumps.
Skipper Clarke looked at ease against the blunt Indian attack and during the evening session reached his double century off 284 balls, with 24 fours and a six.
Clarke celebrated his milestone by raising his bat and helmet in the air toward his hometown crowd of 30,071, before embracing batting partner Hussey.
At stumps, Clarke's 251 not out was the highest score by an Australian at the SCG —surpassing Doug Walters' 242 in 1969 — and the second highest by an Australian against India. His partner for most of those runs today, Ricky Ponting, holds the top Australian score against India of 257.
Should Australia continue to bat on day three, Reginald Foster's SCG test record score of 287 made in 1903, looks well within Clarke's reach.
Ponting's 134 ended a century drought that stretched back to January 2010 when he scored 209 against Pakistan in Hobart. Since then, Australia's greatest test run scorer had gone 34 innings without reaching the milestone.
Recently, pressure had been growing on the Australian selectors to replace Ponting as the team's form slid along with that of the former skipper, despite recent scores of 62 and 60 in Australia's 122-run win in the first test at Melbourne.
Ponting's eagerness to post his 40th test century very nearly turned into disaster when on 99 he attempted a quick single to mid-on, where Zaheer Khan cleanly gathered and threw at the stumps, only to just miss with a diving Ponting well short of his ground.
The former captain's relief was clear as he dusted himself off, before raising his arms in triumph and saluting his family in the crowd in recognition of his 150 ball century, including 11 fours.
Ishant Sharma eventually broke the 288-run partnership — a record for Australia against India — in the second over of the new ball, tempting Ponting into a square drive straight to Sachin Tendulkar at gully.
Hussey's 55 from 97 balls was also a welcome boost for the West Australian, who has overcome a form dip to bat strongly in successive innings.
Like Ponting, his position in the batting lineup has been under mounting pressure in recent times, but from the time he hit his first ball assuredly for a boundary, his restored confidence was evident as he shared an unbeaten 157-run partnership with Clarke.
India's bowlers started the day hoping to build on Zaheer Khan's three wickets the previous evening, when he removed the left-handed trio of Dave Warner (8), Shaun Marsh (0) and Ed Cowan (16) to have Australia reeling at 37-3, but the attack looked bereft of ideas throughout day two.
The dominance of the bat on day two was in sharp contrast to the opening day when Australia's pace attack ripped through India's highly-rated batting lineup, with 21-year-old James Pattinson taking four wickets.