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Clarke injured as Australia announces squads for Pakistan series

MELBOURNE: Injured captain Michael Clarke has been named in Australia’s test and one-day squads for next month’s series against Pakistan but remains a doubt to be fit for the start of the tour in the United Arab Emirates.

Australia’s top batsman, Clarke flew home from Zimbabwe last week after aggravating his left hamstring during a one-day international tournament and has not been cleared to play in the two-test series and three ODIs.

Australia’s selectors are clearly hedging their bets of a recovery, however, and named Clarke captain of the 15-man squad for the tests and also skipper of the 14-member ODI squad released on Monday.

After a one-off Twenty20 match on Oct. 5, Australia play Pakistan in the three one-dayers over the following week before the first test starts Oct. 22 in Dubai. The second starts Oct. 30 in Abu Dhabi.

“No. Not confident,” selector Rod Marsh told a media conference in Sydney on Monday when asked of Clarke’s chances to be fit for the first test.

“You can’t be confident about Michael but I’ll tell you what, he hasn’t missed one in however many he’s played, over 100.

“He’s got a great track record of getting up for tests.

“I’m sure he’ll be right because there’s no more dedicated bloke in getting his rehab in than Michael.

“He will not want to miss any test matches, even if that means he has to miss some one-dayers and I’m not suggesting that.”

All-rounder Shane Watson has been named in all three test, one-day and T20 squads, after missing the one-day tournament against Zimbabwe and South Africa, having rolled an ankle when he stepped on a ball at training.

Top-order batsman David Warner, who was rested from the Zimbabwe tour, has also been recalled in all three squads.

Selectors have included left-arm orthodox spinner Steve O’Keefe and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh in the test squad.

Pakistan struggled last month against another left-arm spinner in Sri Lanka’s Rangana Herath, who took 23 wickets in the home series, a record for a two-test series.

“Pakistan haven’t had a great record against left-arm orthodox spinners,” Marsh told reporters.

“Herath is not a big turner of the ball; Stephen O’Keefe’s not a big turner of the ball.

“They both rely on accuracy rather than huge amounts of turn… That’s another reason he was chosen.”

Batsman George Bailey, who made his test debut against England at home last year but was dropped for the South Africa series after struggling with the bat, has also been named in the squad with top-order batsman Phil Hughes.

Hughes, who has been in and out of the Australian team during his 26-test career, would travel to the UAE earlier than his team mates to spend time working on his batting against spin with the team’s coaching consultant, former Sri Lanka test bowler Muttiah Muralitharan.

Selectors have also named uncapped New South Wales fast bowler Sean Abbott in both the one-day and T20 squads, with exciting young paceman Pat Cummins named in the T20 squad and set for his first international cricket in two years following a serious back injury.

“Pat has worked incredibly hard to come back from injury,” Marsh said. “We would love to see him perform well in the UAE and put his hand up for further opportunities this summer.”

Following are the squads announced by Australia across three formats for Pakistan series.

Test squad:

Michael Clarke (captain), Alex Doolan, Phil Hughes, Brad Haddin, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve O’Keefe, Mitchell Johnson, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson

ODI squad:

Michael Clarke (captain), Sean Abbott, George Bailey, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson

T20 squad:

Aaron Finch (captain), Sean Abbott, Cameron Boyce, Pat Cummins, James Faulkner, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson. – Reuters

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