Grimacing and wracked with pain, Michael Clarke built a century which outweighed his 27 others as rain added to the sense of pathos hanging over the first Test between Australia and India.
Clarke made 128 – his 28th century in Tests, his 17th in Australia, his seventh against India, his seventh at the Adelaide Oval – joining with Steve Smith, who made a career-best unbeaten 162 to lead Australia to 517-7 when bad light ended play on the second day.
More than anything, this was Clarke’s first century since the death of Phillip Hughes, and it had to be achieved by the submission of physical and emotional pain.
Clarke set himself the task of achieving a century in Hughes’ memory and, after watching David Warner (145), then Smith precede him to the milestone, found the courage to honour Hughes as he wished.
Smith, who played with Hughes throughout their junior careers, then for New South Wales and finally Australia, was on 98 when rain washed out the morning session after only 56 minutes. Clarke was 85 not out and Australia, after resuming at 354-6, was 405-6 when the umpires brought forward the lunch break.
Smith went to his century from the first ball after the resumption and followed Warner in emotionally acknowledging Hughes, fans, and teammates before embracing Clarke.
He batted 231 minutes, faced 172 balls, and hit 14 boundaries, and he helped Australia stand against a changing tide late on the first day when India captured three quick wickets to put itself back in the match.
Australia 517-7 in 120 overs (Smith 162*, Shami 2-120)