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Mitchell Johnson adds to Sri Lanka’s problems

200-wicket pacer Mitchell Johnson hit his seventh Test half-century to take Australia to 440/8 against Sri Lanka on the second day of the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday.

At close of play, Johnson was enjoying a great all-round match by batting on 73 with Nathan Lyon yet to score, for company.

Australia had extended their lead over the tourists to 284 runs with two wickets intact, leaving the undermanned Sri Lanka, skittled for 156 off 43.4 overs on Day 1, looking down the barrel of defeat on the third day.

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 Test.

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.

Watson’s patient 265-minute vigil ended when he pulled Dhammika Prasad straight to Thilan Samaraweera lying in wait at deep mid-wicket and he trudged head down from the ground. It was the 19th time Watson has failed to convert a Test half-century into three-figures. 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 pacer Chanaka Welegedara pulling up inside the opening half-hour while bowling.
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