Australia have the momentum, says Clarke

Last updated 05:00 14/11/2012
Michael Clarke
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CAPTAIN'S KNOCK: Michael Clarke plays a shot on his way to 259 not out in the first test against South Africa in Brisbane.

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On the ropes early in the fight for test cricket's world title, Australia's stunning counter-punch has captain Michael Clarke believing they have what it takes to land a knockout blow on South Africa this summer.

Australia were down and almost out at 3-40 on day three of the first test in response to the Proteas' 450 first innings total at the Gabba.

By the final day on Tuesday, it was South Africa who were sweating.

Down a man due to JP Duminy's series-ending injury, South Africa had some anxious moments when fiery quick

James Pattinson (2-58) and off-spinner Nathan Lyon (2-41) reduced them to 5-165 in their second dig holding a lead of just 50 with 15 overs left.

But AB de Villiers (29 not out) kept his cool to guide the Proteas to 5-166 when stumps were drawn with 11 overs left.

A draw maintained Australia's 24-year unbeaten run at the Gabba but it was hardly an ideal start to a series they must win to claim the world No 1 ranking from South Africa.

However, Clarke - who completed a Gabba test record 259 not out on Tuesday - had seen enough to ensure a spring in his step ahead of the second test starting in Adelaide on November 22.

"The team showed a lot of character," he said.

"The boys deserve a lot of credit for their attitude more than anything.

"Our intent was where it needs to be when you are playing against such a good team.

"A lot of positives came out of this test for us. Unfortunately we didn't get a win but we will take momentum into Adelaide.

"We are going to push for a win at every opportunity."

Man-of-the-match Clarke inspired the Australian fightback with his third 200-plus effort in a calendar year.

He combined first with opener Ed Cowan (136) then Mike Hussey (100) in separate double-century stands to lift

Australia to 5-565 - their fourth highest total against South Africa - before declaring an hour ahead of lunch on Tuesday with a 115-run lead.

An Australian bowling attack dominated by South Africa in the first innings turned the tables on Tuesday but they were left to rue a washed out day two - the first at the Gabba in 29 years - as time ran out.

Pattinson initially looked like the man most likely to spark Australia's biggest surprise Test win since shocking England in Adelaide six years ago with a fiery display.

He reduced South Africa to 2-55 but was left wondering what might have been after bowling dangerman Hashim Amla for seven, only for replays to reveal a no-ball on umpire review.

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Peter Siddle (1-36) finally nabbed Amla for 38 before Lyon bounced back from 0-26 after two overs to dismiss Jacques Kallis (49) and Jacques Rudolph (11), exposing the tail.

Proteas skipper Graeme Smith - who had an absorbing duel with Pattinson - admitted his side had some homework to do before Adelaide.

"I thought we were ahead of the game on day three but we just didn't respond the way we have gotten used to," he said.

"We have time to get one or two things right for Adelaide.

"But I think a draw is an even reflection on how this surface played and both teams."


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