Clarke ton to beat Ponting best; Watson falls short

Updated 29 December 2012
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Clarke ton to beat Ponting best; Watson falls short

MELBOURNE: Captain Michael Clarke trumped Ricky Ponting as Australia’s highest run scorer in a calendar year with another century as his team clamped an iron grip on the second Test against Sri Lanka yesterday.
Clarke eclipsed Ponting’s previous national record of 1,544 runs and went on to score 106 to continue his stellar 2012 as another heavy defeat loomed for the hapless Sri Lankans in Melbourne after losing the opening Test by 137 runs.
It was yet more misery, too, for Shane Watson, who missed out on his third Test century and his first hundred since October 2010 when he fell for a Sri Lankan sucker punch on 83.
At the close on the second day Australia were 440 for eight, with 200-wicket paceman Mitchell Johnson — enjoying a great all-round match — on 73 and Nathan Lyon yet to score. It was Johnson’s seventh Test half-century.
Australia had extended their lead over the tourists to 284 runs with two wickets intact. They left the undermanned Sri Lanka, skittled for 156 off 43.4 overs on Wednesday, looking down the barrel of defeat on the third day.
“It’s nice to get that monkey off my back to get my first hundred in Melbourne,” Clarke said.
“In regards to beating Ricky, in my eyes he was certainly the greatest batsman I was lucky enough to play with, so to beat any record that Ricky holds is very special, that’s for sure.” Clarke went into the Melbourne Test needing 56 runs to break Ponting’s national record and has now amassed 1,595 runs at 106.33 in Australia’s final Test of the year.
Only Pakistan’s Mohammad Yousuf (1,788), West Indian Viv Richards (1,710) and South Africa’s Graeme Smith (1,656) have scored more runs than Clarke in a calendar year.
“Numbers have never really bothered me too much,” Clarke said. “It’s nice to be making runs and leading by example as one of the leaders in the team and the captain of the team, but to me it’s about winning games.” Clarke was finally caught by rival skipper Mahela Jayawardene in the slips off Shaminda Eranga after 251 minutes at the crease.
The Australian captain, who was in doubt ahead of the game with a hamstring injury, has also scored a triple century and three double centuries in an extraordinary year.
But it was not a chanceless innings, with Clarke having a let-off in Rangana Herath’s 17th over when substitute ‘keeper Kumar Sangakkara missed a tough stumping chance on 54.
He was also dropped by Tillakaratne Dilshan on five late on Wednesday’s first day.
Clarke put on 194 runs for the fourth wicket with Watson, who soon followed his skipper back to the dressing room after again failing to convert a half-century into a ton.
Watson’s patient 265-minute vigil ended when he pulled Dhammika Prasad straight to Thilan Samaraweera lying in wait at deep mid-wicket. He trudged head down from the ground.
It was the 19th time Watson has failed to convert a Test half-century into three figures.
Watson suffered an injury to his left calf while bowling in Sri Lanka’s first innings and may not bowl in their second innings, it was announced late Thursday.
“He was able to get though the batting innings today and is likely to field on day three,” team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said in a statement, adding it was yet to be determined whether he would be able to bowl.
Matthew Wade only lasted six balls for one before he pulled Prasad to Eranga two overs later, and it took a freakish one-handed catch from Herath to dismiss Mike Hussey at long on for 34.
Hussey has proved Sri Lanka’s nemesis with five centuries in six previous Tests.
Sri Lanka’s injury problems were magnified with paceman Chanaka Welegedara pulling up inside the opening half-hour while bowling and gripping his right hamstring. He is unlikely to bowl again in the Test.
The tourists went into the second day already without wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene due to a hairline thumb fracture suffered while batting in his team’s first innings on Boxing Day. Sangakkara took over behind the stumps.
“It’s a long way from ending this game and we still need a good batting innings from the time we hopefully get them out in tomorrow’s first session and see what we can do from there,” Sri Lanka batting coach Marvan Atapattu said.


Juan Antonio Pizzi picks little-known striker in search of more Saudi Arabia firepower

Updated 22 min 58 sec ago
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Juan Antonio Pizzi picks little-known striker in search of more Saudi Arabia firepower

  • Haroun Kamara has only played seven times for his club side
  • Green Falcons to play Algeria and Greece next month

Al-Qadisiyah’s 20-year-old striker Haroun Kamara has been given an opportunity to stake an unlikely claim for a World Cup spot after being surprisingly named in Juan Antonio Pizzi’s squad for a three-week training camp in Spain.
Kamara, who was born in Jeddah to Guinean parents, has only made seven league appearances for lowly Al-Qadisiyah, scoring four goals and claiming two assists, but he has been given the chance to shine in friendlies against Algeria on May 9 and Greece six days later and book a seat on the plane to Russia.
The youngster follows in the footsteps of the likes of Somalian-British Mukhtar Ali and Egyptian Ahmed Al-Fiqi as the Saudi Football Federation look to harness the pool of players born in the Kingdom to expats and increase the depth of the Green Falcons’ squad.
Pizzi has turned to Kamara having struggled to find options in attack. Hazza Al-Hazza and Mujahid Al-Mania, who were both given their debuts over the past six months, have failed to convince upfront, while Mohannad Assiri has just one goal for his country in more than seven years. Mohammed Al-Sahlawi, who has 26 goals in 33 internationals, is favorite to lead the line, but Pizzi needs more options in attack.
In goal, Yasir Al-Mosaileem, Mohammed Al-Owais and Fawaz Al-Qarni retain their place in the squad, while Al-Nassr’s Waleed Abdullah, who featured in the last squad, made way for Al-Hilal’s Abdullah Al-Mayouf. Only three goalkeepers will be selected for the final 23-man squad.
In defense, Ali Al-Bulayhi is in line for a debut, having established himself as a key player at the heart of Al-Hilal defense, while Mohammed Al-Burayk’s performances at right-back for the Blues earned him a recall to the squad for the first time under Pizzi, replacing Hassan Muath.
The three Hawsawis — Osama, Omar and Motaz — retain their places as do full-backs Yasir Al-Shahrani, Mansour Al-Harbi and Saeed Al-Muwallad. The backline is edging closer to taking shape as Mohammed Jahfali, who was first brought into the squad in March’s friendlies against Ukraine and Belgium, looks to have done enough to convince Pizzi to hand him a second opportunity.
There were no real surprises in midfield as the team is boosted by the recovery of two high-profile names. Nawaf Al-Abed makes his long-awaited return to the national team set-up, having suffered an injury in November’s ill-fated Portugal camp under the now departed coach Edgardo Bauza. Al-Abed’s Al-Hilal teammate, Salman Al-Faraj, is also back in the squad after recovering from a three-month injury lay-off.
Spain-based trio Fahad Al-Muwallad, Yahya Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari miss out due to club commitments.

 

Saudi Arabia squad for games against Algeria (May 9) and Greece (May 15)

Goalkeepers: Yasir Al-Mosaileem, Mohammed Al-Owais, Fawaz Al-Qarni, Abdullah Al-Mayouf.
Defenders: Osama Hawsawi, Motaz Hawsawi, Omar Hawsawi, Mohammed Jahfal, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Mohammed Al-Burayk, Saeed Al-Muwallad, Yasir Al-Shahrani, Mansour Al-Harbi.
Midfielders: Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari, Abdllah Al-Khaibari, Ibrahim Ghaleb, Abdullah Otayf, Taisir Al-Jassim, Hussein Al-Moqahwi, Salman Al-Faraj, Nawaf Al-Abed, Mohammad Kanno, Mohammed Al-Kuwaikbi, Hattan Bahebri.
Forwards: Mohammed Al-Sahlawi, Mohannad Assiri, Haroun Kamara