x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Centurion Clarke banks on bowlers to lead fightback today

Australia captain's hundred leads recovery after early strikes by South Africa.

Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, said he hoped his team would get as close to a score of 300 as possible when the tourists resume on 214 for eight at Newlands, Cape Town, today.

Clarke, who hit a century to cancel out some superb fast bowling by South Africa's Dale Steyn on the first day of the first of two Tests yesterday, was disappointed with the score on a rain-marred day. He was 107 not out at stumps, with Steyn taking four for 31 and new cap Vernon Philander three for 54.

Shaun Marsh was the only top-order batsman to provide meaningful support to Clarke, making 44 and helping his captain put on 103 for the fourth wicket.

"We're going to have to bowl well," Clarke said. "If we hit our areas and hold our catches we're in the ball game."

The middle-order batsman, who arrived at the crease with the score on 40 for three, was given a torrid time by Steyn at the start of his innings before going for his shots when Jacques Kallis took over. "I started horribly," Clarke said. "I couldn't get my head out of the way and Steyn kept getting closer and closer to my head.

"Every hundred you get for Australia is special. It's great to be able to score runs when the team is under pressure."

For the rest it was a struggle after Australia were sent in to bat on a day restricted by rain and bad light to 55 overs.

Steyn later said that "the conditions suited" the Proteas' seamers.

"We went for a little more than we wanted to with the run rate, but if you asked us at the start of the day whether we wanted eight wickets we would have taken it."