Cricket: Aussies back Clarke to play

Michael Clarke of Australia. Photo / Getty Images
Michael Clarke of Australia. Photo / Getty Images

Australia expect Michael Clarke to face England in their Champions Trophy opener despite the captain travelling to London for specialist treatment on his longstanding back problem.

The injury flared up again before the final test of Australia's 4-0 series loss in India two months ago, and he has been unable to play a part in their Champions Trophy warm-up games, including yesterday's 243-run hammering by India in Cardiff.

A decision over Clarke's availability for Saturday's Edgbaston meeting, the first Anglo-Australian clash of an Ashes season, is yet to be taken.

But George Bailey, who led the side in Clarke's absence, said: "It is just precautionary with him. It's his back which is always going to be the issue with Michael. He has had some stiffness there in the last couple of days and, with such an important tournament coming up, we did not see fit to risk him in these games, and it's a reasonably big summer after this tournament as well so it is a case of managing him almost on a day-to-day basis."

Without Clarke, Australia were bundled out for just 65 by India - five runs fewer than their full one-day international record-low total of 70.

Umesh Yadav did the bulk of the damage for India, taking the first five wickets to fall in a stunning return of 5-18 in just five overs.

Earlier, world champions India collapsed to 5-55 before Dinesh Karthik hit a superb 146 not out, adding 211 for the fifth wicket with captain MS Dhoni (91) to get the side to a total of 6-308.


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