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March 6, 2012
Australia captain Michael Clarke has admitted that in rushing back to play after suffering an injury to his right hamstring - which he picked up against India in Adelaide - he opened himself up to the strained left hamstring that makes him a probable absentee from Thursday's third final against Sri Lanka.
In acknowledgement of the team's difficulties, the national selectors have called the West Indies tourists Nathan Lyon and George Bailey into the squad for the third final. Lyon will press Xavier Doherty for his spot after five expensive and wicket-less overs in Adelaide, while Bailey offers a dynamic middle-order option to potentially replace Clarke.
In the aftermath of an eight-wicket loss to the visitors that left the finals series locked at 1-1, Clarke said he had bypassed the advice of the team physio Alex Kountouris in order to play earlier than recommended, and in doing so favoured his left leg over his right. The extra loading was not appreciated, and he now has strains of varying seriousness on both sides.
A scan on Wednesday will determine the extent of Clarke's injury, but with a long-haul flight to the Caribbean mere days away, it appears unlikely the captain will play in the series decider on Thursday. "I've done something to my left hamstring, I don't know to what extent," Clarke said. "I have to have a scan tomorrow, but it's obviously not feeling good at the moment.
"We leave for West Indies in three days. I don't want to make a judgment until we have the scan, I think I'd be silly to do that. It's a tough one. I pushed really hard to try to get back for this finals series and tried my best not to give Alex much of an option to be honest.
"So I feel for him as much as my left leg at the moment, because I know he probably would've preferred me to take it easy, but I wanted to be part of this finals series. But after straining my right one I've probably favoured my left over the past couple of weeks or 10 days and I've done a bit of damage there, so we'll wait and see."
The damaged state of Clarke's hamstring rather mirrored the cricket played by his team in Adelaide, where the struggles hinted at in Brisbane's narrow victory were writ large across a heavy defeat. Clarke apportioned blame evenly across the team, suggesting that the batsmen had been too sluggish on an easy-paced surface, the bowlers lacked control, and the fielders were sloppy and ineffective in their efforts to stem the flow of runs.
"We were short with the bat, we didn't score enough runs on a very good batting wicket and knowing Sri Lanka had stacked their batting line-up and played an extra batter at No. 7 we didn't score enough runs," Clarke said. "No excuse for our performance in the field though, we let ourselves down in the field and our bowling was quite poor once again. We've got a couple of days to turn things around.
"I'm really happy with the squad we've got, we're in the finals of this series and we've played some really good cricket. The bowlers have done a good job throughout the series in patches like our batting group. It's certainly not the stock, we've got the right stock, we just have to execute our skills better."
Earlier in the series, Australia's batsmen had struggled to go on to make centuries, though scoring at a decent clip. However, in Adelaide, both Clarke and David Warner passed three figures, only for their scores to be eclipsed in impact if not volume by Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan. Clarke said that "maybe we need someone to make 150 all the time", but credited Sri Lanka's bowlers for their thrift.
"It was certainly no team plan to start off conservative, that's for sure," Clarke said. "I think the boys found it quite hard early on, they thought the wicket was quite slow so it was hard to get rhythm, momentum and play their shots I guess. But credit's got to go to the Sri Lankan bowlers.
"I think they bowled in pretty good areas, they changed their pace very well and then at the death they hit their yorkers pretty well to restrict us to 270-odd. We can learn a lot from the way they bowled tonight.
"We beat them in the last game in Queensland, but we have to be at our best to beat them. India and Sri Lanka are two very good one-day teams, and we have to play our best cricket to beat them, and we're not doing that at the moment."
Edited by Kanishkaa Balachandran
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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