Michael Clarke survives salvo as Australia take command


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The Independent Online

Australia’s maverick batsman David Warner added to his rich vein of form by putting his side in control of the Third and decisive Test against South Africa in Cape Town with a quickfire century on the opening day.

However, his captain, Michael Clarke, shared the plaudits after resisting a sustained attack of brutal fast bowling from the South African pacemen as the visitors closed on 331 for 3 after winning the toss at Newlands.

Clarke was struck repeatedly by a salvo of bouncers from around the wicket delivered by Morne Morkel. He remained undefeated on 92 off 181 balls with nine boundaries as his side aimed to take a 2-1 lead against the world’s No 1 ranked Test nation.

Morkel hit Clarke on the helmet and the gloves, at one point splitting open his thumb. But Clarke showed courage and skill to survive to the close.

Dale Steyn removed Chris Rodgers for 25, edging to Graeme Smith at first slip after the opening pair had set off at five runs an over. Vernon Philander then dismissed Alex Doolan for 20, caught by Steyn at mid-on.

But Warner withstood the attentions of the pacemen and raced to 135 off just 152 balls with 12 fours and six before he was caught behind, offering an outside edge to the off-spinner JP Duminy to leave the Australians on 217 for 3.

There was to be no respite for South Africa, however, as Steve Smith joined forces with Clarke and shared an unbroken stand of 114, Smith reaching his half-century by the close of play.

Sam Robson strengthened his claim for a place in the England Test team by scoring 146 not out for the England Lions as they secured a series victory over Sri Lanka A with a draw in Colombo.

The Australian-born opening batsman batted throughout the final day as the tourists closed on 273 for 5 to seal a 1-0 win.

Robson, 24, had impressed for Middlesex last season and could come into the new-look England set-up after an underwhelming display by Michael Carberry in the opening role during the disastrous Ashes series this winter. Nick Compton had also failed to make the slot his own, while Joe Root was moved up the order as Andy Flower sought a partner for the captain, Alastair Cook.

It was Robson’s third century of the tour and his fifth of the winter after scoring heavily for the England Performance Programme, who toured Australia at the same time as the senior side.

Afghanistan claimed their first-ever win over a full-member nation after beating tournament hosts Bangladesh by 32 runs in the Asia Cup. A sixth-wicket stand of 164 between Asghar Stanikzai (90) and Samiullah Shenwari (81) allowed Afghanistan to set a target of 255. Bangladesh slumped from 161 for 4 to 165 for 8, losing three wickets in successive deliveries.