South Africa v Australia, 2nd ODI, Port Elizabeth October 23, 2011

Australia hopeful over Watson

Shane Watson, Australia allrounder, is likely to be fit for the third and deciding one-day game against South Africa in Durban on Friday. Watson left the field after bowling three overs and five balls in Sunday's game in Port Elizabeth after experiencing back spasms. However, he returned to bat at No. 6 and did not show too much discomfort, although he was a little slower between the wickets.

"It was a very positive sign that he went back out and batted and I am very confident that he will ready for Friday's game," Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, said.

This is not the first time Watson has suffered from spasms. He also experienced them during a Test match against India but recovered quickly. "He continued to play and was fine," Clarke said. "Two days later, he ended up bowling. He wasn't great at the time when it happened but after some time he was fine."

Watson initially had a hip injury which caused him to miss the second Twenty20 and first ODI on the current tour. The injury was not described as serious but Australia wanted to manage Watson's return carefully. They made it clear that they did not want to rush him back because with a two-match Test series looming they will need him fully fit. However, his importance in their line-up is apparent and they were willing to leave it to the absolute last minute before deciding on his availability for this match.

Watson was advised not to bowl for New South Wales during the Champions League T20 by Cricket Australia's medical team because of the workload he faces this season. Clarke said he is likely to return in his all-round capacity for Friday's crucial match. "I'm hoping he will be fine to bowl on Friday," he said. "I am very happy that he came out to bat and I think he will be fine."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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