Alexa

Stuart Clark silences doubters with dominating four-wicket haul against India

Stuart Clark silences doubters with dominating four-wicket haul against India

Stuart Clark's place in the Australian cricket team changed from maybe to must-have in two days.
Clark was no certainty of joining Australia's bowling attack ahead of the first cricket test against India.
After being omitted from the Australian limited-overs squad for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series against New Zealand earlier this month to make way for fellow quick Shaun Tait, selectors were still weighing up whether to include Clark in the test XI earlier this week.
Any concerns over his worth in the team evaporated under the warm Melbourne sun Thursday when he claimed four wickets for 28 runs _ including the prized dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar _ to dominate the much vaunted Indian batting lineup and put Australia in a commanding position after the second day of the first test.
"There was obviously contention of who was going to play," Clark said of his pre-test selection tussle with Tait.
"I think my role's maybe a little different from what they want out of Shaun, so from that point of view I think there was probably not as much talk about me."
There will certainly be plenty of talk about the lanky 32-year-old now, and Clark is hoping this time it will be positive.
"It was nice to get out there today and get a few wickets, and make maybe some of those doubters who were in the media, or ex-players, who thought I shouldn't be in the team to think otherwise," he said.
Clark has claimed 58 wickets part-way through just his 12th test. Perhaps the most important thus far came Thursday when he dismissed a dangerously confident Tendulkar for 62 shortly before tea to break up a promising 65-run, fourth-wicket partnership with Saurav Ganguly.
"If we had converted that into a big partnership, it could have really made a huge difference to the later batting order," Tendulkar said. "That was probably an important wicket."
After Australia's pace attack claimed three top-order wickets for just 55 runs, Tendulkar settled in to anchor the India innings, confidently placing the ball into gaps and timing eight boundaries as well as a big six over long-on off spinner Brad Hogg.
"He was batting beautifully and any time he gets out and you see him walking back to the pavilion is a good moment for the opposition because he's such a great player," Clark said.
Clark saw off slow-scoring opener Rahul Dravid with the last ball before lunch to leave India struggling at 31-2, then claimed two wickets from three balls either side of the tea break as he and Brett Lee (4-46) led an outstanding innings for the Australian bowlers.
After having Yuvraj Singh caught behind for a duck on the last ball before tea, Clark completed his over after the break by trapping Mahendra Dhoni lbw without conceding a run.
With three days left to play in the first test, and the slow Melbourne Cricket Ground wicket already beginning to deteriorate, Clark warned the biggest challenge for the bowlers was yet to come.
"It's a matter of bowling well on that wicket," he said. "If we bowl badly the roles can be reversed quite easily."