Michael Clarke: Australia captain hits 64 in World Cup warm-up

By Stephan ShemiltBBC Sport at Melbourne
Australia captain Michael Clarke
Clarke's last competitive international appearance was in early December
World Cup warm-up scorecards:
Australia 304-8 (50 overs) beat UAE 116 (30.1 overs) by 188 runs
Zimbabwe 281-3 (45.2 overs) beat Sri Lanka 279-8 (50 overs) by seven wickets
New Zealand 331-8 (50 overs) beat South Africa 197 (44.2 overs) by 134 runs

Michael Clarke made a half-century, captaining Australia for the first time in two months as they won their final World Cup warm-up 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.

Having set the visitors an imposing target at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Clarke fielded and also bowled two overs of left-arm spin as the UAE were bowled out for 116 with just under 20 overs to spare, handing the Aussies a 188-run win.

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 MCG 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.

Even after Australia had completed a routine victory, Clarke returned to the outfield for some fielding practice.

In Wednesday's other World Cup warm-ups, Zimbabwe 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
Australia captain Michael Clarke bowling
Clarke later bowled two overs of left-arm spin for the cost of five runs
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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