Clarke steps up comeback from injury

Australia captain Michael Clarke

Clarke’s last competitive international appearance was in early December

11 February 2015
Last updated at

Michael Clarke made a half-century as he captained Australia for the first time in two months in their final World Cup warm-up match against the UAE.

Opening the batting, Clarke contributed 64 to the hosts’ 304-8 in Melbourne.

Coach Darren Lehman then told Australian TV that the 33-year-old may be fit to play against England in their

World Cup

opener on Saturday.

“If he gets through the fielding and bowls some overs then we’ll see what happens,” Lehmann said.

Clarke had suffered two injuries to his left hamstring in 2014 before tearing his right hamstring while fielding in the first Test against India on 13 December.

He even went so far as to

suggest that the injury may have ended his career.

But, by 24 December, he

stated his desire to be fit for the World Cup

and returned to action in grade cricket on 31 January.

Last week, he batted and bowled for a Cricket Australia XI against Bangladesh and was thought to be working towards a deadline of 21 February – co-hosts Australia’s second match of the World Cup, also against Bangladesh – to

prove his fitness for the tournament.

Clarke was at the crease for 90 minutes at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and faced 61 balls.

Without ever being asked to fully exert himself, the right-hander struck eight boundaries before offering a leading edge to long-on from the off-spin of Nasir Aziz.

In Wednesday’s other World Cup warm-ups,

caused an upset by beating
Sri Lanka

by seven wickets at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval.

After they restricted Sri Lanka to 279-8 from 50 overs, Hamilton Masakadza led the way for the underdogs with an unbeaten 117, backed up by Brendan Taylor (63) and Sean Williams, who made 51 not out after taking 3-35 earlier in the game.

Also in Christchurch, at the Hagley Oval, co-hosts
New Zealand

eased past
South Africa,

making 331-8 before bowling the Proteas out for 197 as left-arm paceman Trent Boult took 5-51.

Michael Clarke and Aaron Finch walk out to open the innings

Clarke, usually a middle-order batsman, opened the Australia innings with Aaron Finch

UAE spinner Nasir Aziz

Nasir Aziz removed all three Australian half-centurions – Aaron Finch, Michael Clarke and Steve Smith

South Africa's JP Duminy

JP Duminy hit 80 in a losing cause as South Africa were beaten by New Zealand

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