Today at the Champions Trophy: Michael Clarke weighs up return for must-win Champions tie


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The Independent Online


Australia's captain, Michael Clarke, is still unsure whether he will be fit to face Sri Lanka at The Oval this afternoon, but remains confident he will be fit for the Ashes.

The batsman has yet to feature in the tournament as he struggles with a lower-back injury, casting doubt on his condition for the first Test against England, which takes place at Trent Bridge on 10 July.

"I don't know at this stage," Clarke said when asked about his prospects of playing in Nottingham. "I'll have to train today with the boys and see how I pull up tomorrow. But I'm hopeful, there's no doubt about that."

Australia must win heavily to have any chance of progression to the semi-finals this week, following defeat by England at Edgbaston nine days ago and their rain-affected match at The Oval against New Zealand last week.

The Sri Lanka captain, Tillakaratne Dilshan, feels his side can go all the way and win their first outright Champions Trophy.

"I think we are playing very good cricket," the batsman said. "If we click the way we want, we can beat any side in any conditions.

"We played the same team [in the] last couple of months. We beat Australia in Australia, we played very good cricket here last year."

Two to watch

James Faulkner, Australia

The 23-year-old shoulders big hopes for his country this summer and has already hit one half-century in the tournament, albeit in defeat against England. He also took two wickets in that match and, with doubts over Michael Clarke's involvement, could have a key role to play in London today.

Rangana Herath, Sri Lanka

The veteran bowler has three wickets in the tournament, including the scalps of Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott, and his disciplined style works well in tandem with the speed of Lasith Malinga and Shaminda Eranga. Herath, 35, terrorised Australia last winter and he could do the same today.