Clarke bats, bowls as comeback gathers pace

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Shukriya Pakistan

Sydney: Michael Clarke’s comeback from injury gathered pace Thursday with the Australian captain bowling two overs and knocking a breezy 34 for a Cricket Australia XI against Bangladesh.

The 33-year-old was forced onto the sidelines after the first Test against India in December with a serious hamstring injury that required surgery, and is battling to be fit for the World Cup starting next week.

Clarke hit 51 for a local Sydney team on Saturday in his first outing since then and Thursday took to the Allan Border Field in Brisbane, fielding on the boundary rope and in the slips and even bowling two overs of spin in the unofficial one-dayer.

He looked untroubled before departing after two hours, presumably to the physio’s table.

Clarke returned for a 47-minute bat, stroking 34 from 36 balls before being undone by the leg-spin of Sabbir Rahman.

Cricket Australia have given Clarke until Australia’s second pool match against Bangladesh on February 21 to prove his fitness for the World Cup.

Coach Darren Lehmann on Wednesday suggested Clarke could resume playing earlier than expected, saying “fingers crossed he might be” as he threw his support behind him to return as captain.

In his absence, Steve Smith has filled in as captain with great success, with reports this week suggesting the team prefer him to Clarke.(AFP)

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