Australia v Bangladesh 2008 / News

Australia v Bangladesh, 3rd ODI, Darwin

'Our performances have been spot on' - Clarke

Brydon Coverdale in Darwin

September 6, 2008

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James Hopes' three crucial wickets ensured that Cardiff wasn't repeated © Getty Images
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Defending 198 in a one-day international is rarely a comfortable position these days but Michael Clarke, Australia's stand-in captain, insists he was never scared that Bangladesh would cause a mammoth upset and dent his leadership credentials. He could have been forgiven for a few nerves when Tamim Iqbal made the slow pitch look a batting paradise as Bangladesh reached 3 for 82.

Clarke was one of only two men in the side who was part of the team that lost to Bangladesh in Cardiff in 2005 and it is a memory he does not like reliving. He is also undefeated as Australia's ODI and Twenty20 captain and on this occasion he was comforted by the depth of his attack.

"With 200 on the board I was confident if we bowled well we could win the game and once again our bowlers did a great job," Clarke said. "Bangladesh batted well at the start, they were positive, but we all knew if we could just take one or two wickets it would put them on the back foot."

That moment came when Shakib Al Hasan, who had joined with Tamim for a 60-run stand, pulled James Hopes to midwicket. It started a procession of wickets - the last six fell for 43 runs - and for the third time in the series made it difficult for Clarke to give all his bowlers lengthy spells as they prepare for the upcoming tour of India.

The batsmen did have the chance to spend longer at the crease, although only Michael Hussey made full use of that by making an unbeaten and laborious 57. Clarke has struggled to have an impact with the bat in Darwin - he joked that the team's No. 3 "was horrendous" - but he is happy the players have simply shaken off any post-winter rust.

"We wanted to leave 3-0 winners and we've done that," Clarke said. "The end result, it was closer than the first two games, but our mindset was to win this game. If it was by one run we weren't really bothered.

"Our performances have been spot on, I think our preparation has been unbelievable, been really good. The guys have been very disciplined trained hard, even days before the games, and that will hold us in good stead either for the next one-dayers in the Australian summer or the Test series in India."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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