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Clarke wants improved spin play

AFP
Aug 30, 2012 at 05:46pm IST

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Abu Dhabi: Australian captain Michael Clarke hopes his batsmen will continue to show improvement against Pakistan's spinners when the teams clash in the second one-day international in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Australia negotiated the high-profile Pakistan spin trio of Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez to the best effect to win the first one-day in Sharjah by four wickets on Tuesday, taking a 1-0 lead in three-match series.

And Clarke, 31, hopes his batsmen show improvement with each game. "Playing spin bowling is an area of our game that we need to continue to improve. It's something that we've focused on when we've played away from home," said Clarke, who led the modest run chase of 199 with a sedate 66.

Australia beat Pakistan in the first ODI on Tuesday but the Aussie captain wants no complacency against spin.

George Bailey hit a patient 88-ball 57 not out to steer Australia home in the 49th over after Ajmal (3-30) and Hafeez (2-29) threatened to catch Australia in a spin web. Clarke was delighted with the opening win. "Apart from myself, I think it's everyone's first time playing cricket here in this heat in these conditions so that's why it's more pleasing to have won," said Clarke who led Australia to a 3-2 series win against Pakistan here in 2009.

Australia considered the option of bringing in left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty or spinning allrounder Steve Smith for the Abu Dhabi game. "There's enough there for both fast bowlers and spin [on the Abdu Dhabi pitch]. I'd love to see somebody in our top four go on and make a big score, make a hundred."I've got two starts and I haven't been able to go on [to score a hundred]. I think heat is certainly a factor," said Clarke, who also made 75 in Australia's 66-run win over Afghanistan in Sharjah on Saturday.

Clarke praised Bailey for his responsible innings. "The most pleasing thing was that George was there at the end. These days in one-day cricket, a lot is spoken about your strike-rate. George wasn't concerned about how many balls he was facing. He's the T20 captain and I know he's looking forward to hopefully winning that World Cup in Sri Lanka.

"It's a really positive sign for the T20 team that the captain is in really good form leading up to that tournament," said Clarke of the World Twenty20 to be held in Sri Lanka next month. Pakistan, meanwhile, will look to improve their batting, after being bowled out in 45.1 overs with left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc taking a career best 5-42. Captain Misbah-ul Haq said he was disappointed over his side's batting failure, despite packing the XI with seven batsmen.

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