Michael Clarke became the first batsman in Test history to score four double centuries in a year as Australia put South Africa to the sword in the second Test in Adelaide.
Clarke’s unbeaten 224 follows scores of 329 not out and 210 against India last summer and 259 not out in the first Test last week.
Leading a charge that could demoralise the Proteas as they seek to protect their No.1 Test ranking by not losing this series, Clarke’s chanceless innings helped Australia to 5-482 at the end of the first day.
Mike Hussey was bowled for 103 from the last ball of the day after completing consecutive centuries in the series.
It was the fourth-highest total scored in a day’s play by any Test team and the second highest in this country behind Australia’s 6-494 against South Africa at the SCG in 1910-11.
Just as he did at the Gabba, Hussey trailed in Clarke’s wake so effectively that he produced an effortless century of his own.
The pair embraced twice in consecutive deliveries with Clarke’s double century coming a ball before Hussey completed his 18th Test hundred.
Hussey brought up his ton with a six off leg-spinner Imran Tahir whose nightmare introduction to Australia included a bowling analysis of 0-159 off 21 overs.
Australia added 202 in the final session, with Clarke putting on 120 himself.
The right-hander hammered five fours in one Morne Morkel over and finished with 39 fours and a six in one of the most dominant displays of his career.
Incredibly, Clarke's innings also overshadowed opener David Warner, whose 119 took only 112 balls and helped Australia recover from 3-55.
Clarke and Warner went on a blitzkrieg when 93 runs were belted in the first nine overs after lunch and 178 were added in the session to take the home team to 4-280 at tea.
Clarke and Warner put on 155 for the fourth wicket in only 24 overs.
It was Warner's third Test century and the innings that will virtually guarantee his place for the rest of the summer.
Warner moved from his lunch score of 67 to 100 in just 14 deliveries. Debutant Faf du Plessis’ first delivery was lofted into the construction site at mid-wicket.
The left-hander’s innings included 16 fours and four sixes before he edged a low catch to slip off Morne Morkel.
South Africa used up their quota of decision reviews and with Jacques Kallis out of action with a hamstring injury, could face a massive task to get the match back to level pegging.
Warner had brought up his third Test ton in just 93 deliveries. His dynamic century included 13 fours and four sixes.
The left-hander had received great support from senior teammates Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke earlier in the week.
Ponting, who himself is struggling and was bowled for four today, said it was only a matter of time until Warner carved out a record similar to Adam Gilchrist before him.
Captain Clarke said on Wednesday that Warner had battled some mental demons since his failure in the first Test at Brisbane.
Encouraged to play his natural game, Warner cleared his head at training during the week and came out on the opening morning and smashed the Proteas all over the ground.
During the first session he stood at the other end as opening partner Ed Cowan (10), Rob Quiney (0) and Ponting fell within the space of 15 deliveries to leave the innings precarious at 3-55.
But Warner fearlessly continued to follow his instincts and combined beautifully with skipper Clarke.
Kallis walked off the field midway through his fourth over and his involvement in the rest of the series is now in considerable doubt.
He is unlikely to bowl again in the match while changes to the laws mean he will not be able to use a runner if he bats.
Batting first on a grassy Adelaide Oval pitch after Clarke had won the toss, Australia Australia got to 3-102 at lunch.
Yet for all the excitement over Warner’s return to his damaging best, his innings was overshadowed by the Kallis drama.
The great all-rounder made a break immediately he was brought into the attack in the 11th over when Ed Cowan could have been given out twice to a brilliant inswinging yorker.
The delivery struck Cowan on the boot in front of the stumps then ballooned from his bat back to the bowler.
Kallis struck again in his next over when he snaked a superb outswinger into Ponting’s off stump with the batsman scrambling on hands and knees after over-balancing.
Kallis was midway through his fourth over when he pulled up short in his run-up and immediately walked off the field and was taken to hospital for scans.
South Africa suffered a blow before play when seamer Vernon Philander withdrew from the game with back stiffness.Gabba debutant Rory Kleinveldt was retained in the team.
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