SYDNEY - Michael Clarke said he hoped to earn some respect from home fans after posting the highest score by an Australian against India in the second Test in Sydney on Wednesday. Clarke has battled to win over the Australian cricket public since taking on the Test captaincy and a year ago he was booed as he came out to bat in a one-day international against England in Brisbane. But he earned the fans' adulation on Wednesday with an unbeaten 251 as Australia built an imposing 482 for four at second day stumps to hold a lead of 291 with six wickets intact and three days to play. Records toppled for Clarke as he surpassed Doug Walters' 242 as the highest score by a home batsman on the Sydney Cricket Ground, set back in 1969 against the West Indies.
Clarke and Ricky Ponting (134) put on the biggest partnership -- 288 runs -- for any Australian wicket against India to leave the dispirited tourists with a mountain to climb to save the four-Test series after going down by 122 runs in last week's opener in Melbourne. It was Clarke's 18th century in his 78th Test and fourth against India and bettered his previous Test best 168 against New Zealand in March 2010. Although Clarke casts a genial and polite image, he polarises opinion among Australia's cricket followers, with some people disapproving of his perceived glamorous lifestyle. On the day Clarke took over as Test captain from Ponting, a newspaper poll showed only eight percent of respondents favoured the appointment. "Hopefully it helps me continue to earn respect. That's all I can do," Clarke said after his supreme batting performance.