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March 22, 2013
Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin will both fly home from Delhi on Saturday morning while their team-mates attempt to fight their way back into the fourth Test. Clarke will have scans on his back in Sydney after being ruled out of the Test before play on the first morning at the Feroz Shah Kotla, while Haddin has been released from the squad after arriving in India halfway through the tour as cover for the injured Matthew Wade, who missed the Mohali Test but was fit for Delhi.
Australia's medical staff wants to monitor Clarke's back problem, which has troubled him since he was 17, and his participation for Pune Warriors in the IPL must be in doubt given Australia's busy winter schedule with the Champions Trophy and an Ashes tour. Clarke's absence allowed Shane Watson to become Australia's 44th Test captain and while Clarke was not seen on the team balcony during the day, the batsman Steven Smith said he was still active around the group.
"He was given until the last point to prove his fitness," Smith said. "Shane was given a little heads-up to say 'prepare mentally and get yourself ready, just in case I don't come up'. He in the end was in a bit too much pain to get into this match and there's a lot of big series coming up and he wants to get his body right and prepare well for them. They told us this morning.
"He [Clarke] was grabbing a few guys' gloves and giving them to the boys to run out. He was trying to do his part in the sheds like he always does. It's disappointing not to have him out there in this game."
Australia certainly missed Clarke's batting in the first innings as their top order collapsed to 129 for 6 in challenging but far from unplayable conditions. Smith was one of only two Australians to survive for 100 deliveries - the other was the No. 9 Peter Siddle - and he said the pitch was likely to be much harder to bat on as the match wore on.
"That's probably not the day-one wicket that I'm used to playing on," Smith said. "It's broken up a fair bit to start up with. It's going to get tougher and tougher to bat throughout this match and 231 at the end of the day is not a bad day I don't think. Hopefully we can grind out another 50 or so tomorrow and I think that will be quite competitive as a first-innings score on that wicket."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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