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Clarke, the big boss

Calcutta/ Adelaide: Michael Clarke blasted his second double-century in consecutive innings to drive Australia to a mammoth first-day total of 482 for five in the second Test on Thursday as South Africa’s ailing pace attack was brought to its knees.

Captain Clarke blasted 39 fours and a six in a sparkling unbeaten 224 at Adelaide Oval to demoralise the Proteas after they lost paceman Vernon Philander before play started with a back injury and Jacques Kallis with a suspected hamstring injury after lunch.

While Philander’s scan revealed nothing more than a lower lumbar muscle strain, Kallis has suffered a Grade 1 strain to his right hamstring and will not be able to bowl in the ongoing Test. However, he will be able to bat.

Dale Steyn, the world’s top-ranked Test bowler, took himself off after tea with another suspected hamstring strain, leaving the visitors at the mercy of a withering barrage from Clarke and fellow centurions David Warner and Mike Hussey.

“We just made 480 in a day, now I’m trying to work out what we’ve got to do tomorrow to set up this game to have a crack at winning,” Clarke said after becoming the first player to score four double-centuries in a calendar year.

Steyn returned to the field and bowled Hussey with the last ball of the day but the horse had already bolted as Clarke and the rugged 37-year-old combined for a 272-run stand in bright sunshine.

That followed a thrilling 155-run partnership between Clarke and Warner after the hosts had slumped to 55 for three with Kallis striking twice in the morning to skittle the top order.

However, when Kallis went off injured, the pair hit out after lunch as South Africa captain Graeme Smith rested Steyn and threw spinner Imran Tahir to the wolves.

Clarke and Warner plundered 108 runs in less than an hour after lunch, with the latter lofting a six over bowler Tahir’s head and then stroking a sublime cover drive for four on the next delivery to bring up his third Test century.

The belligerent 26-year-old opener was eventually caught behind for 119 off the bowling of paceman Morne Morkel, having blasted 16 fours and four sixes, but Australia were in control at 210 for four.

Clarke, in white-hot form following an unbeaten 259 in the drawn first Test in Brisbane, barely missed a step as he combined with Hussey after tea to drive Australia to their highest first-day total in decades.