Clarke targets shock win

PA Sport
Michael Clarke is hoping to put South Africa under pressure on the final day at the Gabba

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Michael Clarke is hoping to put South Africa under pressure on the final day at the Gabba

Michael Clarke insists Australia can still claim an unlikely first Test victory against South Africa at the Gabba after his stunning double-century guided them back into contention.

The captain remains unbeaten on an outstanding 218 and, together with opener Ed Cowan (136) and veteran Michael Hussey (86), got Australia out of jail to finish at 487 for four at stumps on day four - with a first-innings lead of 37 runs.

At one stage yesterday, they were 40 for three chasing South Africa's 450. A draw remains the most likely result, but since Australia cannot lose from here, Clarke said he will roll the dice on a flat Gabba wicket and declare in the morning. "I definitely think we can have a crack at winning. It's worth a go, in my opinion," he told reporters.

"The key is tomorrow morning to be nice and positive and see how we go leading up to lunch. We'll give ourselves a couple of sessions to try and bowl South Africa out. We're going to need a lot of things to go our way.

"We'll wait and see what the weather's like. Hopefully the sun's out and the wicket deteriorates a little bit more as well. It's still pretty good for batting, though, so we'll need to maximise our time to have a chance of bowling South Africa out."

Clarke and Cowan's 259-run partnership turned the match on its head. Between them, the pair smacked 38 boundaries and ran over the top of a South African attack featuring some of the world's premier fast bowlers.

"One of the things Warney's taught me over the years is the better the bowling, the more positive you've got to be," Clarke said.

"That was certainly my intent from the first ball I faced. Ed and I just tried to play our natural games. We had a bit of luck along the way, and then Michael Hussey showed great intent, scored very freely and continues to show his class as well."

At first it seemed like the under-pressure Cowan had the headlines wrapped up all to himself with his maiden Test century - until his skipper upstaged him. Overlooked for a Cricket Australia contract this season, the Tasmanian sent selectors wary of his unconvincing form a stern, direct message.

"It wasn't really a contract issue to be honest, that wasn't what was getting me going," Cowan said. "It's more that I want to be playing cricket for a long time for Australia. There's only one way to do that and only one currency, and that's scoring runs."

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