Michael Clarke hit a double-century and Ed Cowan scored his first Test hundred to lift Australia 37 runs ahead of South Africa going into the final day of their series-opening cricket match in Brisbane.
Clarke was unbeaten on 218 with Mike Hussey 86 not out as Australia ended day four on 487-4 in reply to top-ranked South Africa’s first-innings 450. It was the third time Australia captain Clarke scored 200 runs or more in 2012.
Clarke and Cowan’s 259-run partnership for the fourth wicket rallied the Australians from 40-3 and made the draw the favored result with one day left, according to bookmakers. The match is the first of three between the teams that will decide the No. 1 Test ranking.
Cowan, whose highest score in 12 previous Test innings was 74, made 136 before he was run out shortly before the tea interval when bowler Dale Steyn finger-tipped a drive from Clarke onto the stumps with the opener out of his crease. Steyn earlier failed to take a catch off a Cowan top edge in the outfield when he was distracted by the nearby Jacques Rudolph.
Cowan was the only batsman to get out today as Hussey then combined with his captain for an unbeaten 188-run partnership until stumps. The home team had begun the day’s play at 111-3.
Clarke’s 350-ball knock featured 22 boundaries as he and Hussey pushed Australia’s run rate to more than four an over. The innings also made him the first batsman to reach 1,000 Tests runs in 2012.
South Africa would retain the No. 1 spot in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings by avoiding defeat in the best-of-three contest. Australia, which is unbeaten at the Gabba in Test matches since 1988, can overtake the Proteas atop the rankings with a series victory.
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