ICL: Indian Cricket League

Clarke opens up for crucial encounter against Kiwis


Australia’s batting order has been reshuffled with Michael Clarke pushed up to open in the absence of Adam Gilchrist for the deciding Chappell-Hadlee Series match. Australia lead 1-0, but New Zealand can retain the trophy if they win in Hobart today (Thursday) and will look to take advantage of the opposition changes.

Clarke, who wins a promotion while Gilchrist rests for a week, scored 33 at the top of the order during the Twenty20, but he has limited experience in the position in ODIs. He has opened 11 times, including posting two zeroes when Matthew Hayden was injured during the India series in October.

“Michael’s done it for us in the past and done a pretty good at the top of the order,” Ricky Ponting said in Hobart. “We think we’ve got a good balance at the moment.”

Michael Hussey and Andrew Symonds will move up a spot while Brad Haddin is due to enter at No. 6. Australia have retained their in-form bowling line-up, leaving Mitchell Johnson on the outer for the entire series.

New Zealand were reduced to 3 for 30 before rain saved them in Sydney on Sunday and they were pegged back to 254 in the opening game when they seemed on target for a score of more than 300. Ponting hoped the damage done at the SCG would stay with the top-order batsmen.

“When you get knocked over early, you want to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Ponting told AAP. “I’m sure that will be in the back of their minds [on Thursday] when we take the field. The game, probably being washed out when it was, created less worries for New Zealand than it would have had if it continued.”

Despite Australia’s dominance, Ponting said his players needed to perform again to close out the series. “What’s happened so far doesn’t really count for anything,” he said. “We know it’s a finals-type game and you have to be at your best.”

Daniel Vettori knows this only too well and has revealed that the demands of the captaincy have surprised him, but that any victories are all the sweeter. “It’s probably been tougher than I assumed, you don’t realise how much you actually live and die what the team’s doing when you take over the role full-time,” he said.

“Everything is of a concern to me, everyone’s performance, everything that’s going on, on and off the park.”

Nevertheless, as captain he knows that a win means so much to him and this will spur him on come Thursday. “It’s a gruelling task, but also pretty rewarding as well,” Vettori said. “We haven’t had too many wins, but when they do come along it’s one of the better feelings you can have in cricket.”

He would dearly love to be lifting the trophy again in Hobart.

Australia 1 Matthew Hayden, 2 Michael Clarke, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Andrew Symonds, 6 Brad Haddin (wk), 7 James Hopes, 8 Brett Lee, 9 Brad Hogg, 10 Shaun Tait, 11 Nathan Bracken.

New Zealand (likely) 1 Lou Vincent, 2 Brendon McCullum, 3 Jamie How, 4 Scott Styris, 5 Ross Taylor, 6 Gareth Hopkins (wk), 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Kyle Mills, 9 Daniel Vettori, 10 Mark Gillespie, 11 Chris Martin.

Source:Cricket News

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