Clarke leads from the front
Michael Clarke continued his fine form as Australia fought back on day three of the first Test against West Indies in Bridgetown.
Replying to the Windies’ 449 for nine declared on a true surface, the tourists were struggling at 133 for four after Darren Sammy struck twice.
But Clarke hit 73 from 173 balls, sharing a fifth-wicket partnership of 82 with Mike Hussey, who was unbeaten on 47 at the close.
Debutant Matthew Wade struck two fours in his 18 not out before bad light brought a premature end to the day’s play with Australia on 248 for five, still 201 runs behind.
Australia could only add six to their overnight 44 without loss before Ed Cowan fell, caught behind by Carlton Baugh off Windies skipper Sammy, who then saw Darren Bravo hold on at second slip to remove David Warner for 42.
Things got worse for Australia when they slipped to 84 for three as a furious Ricky Ponting was run out cheaply after a calamitous mix-up with Shane Watson.
The vice-captain flicked the ball behind square for an easy single, only to call for a second, hesitate and leave the former skipper out of his ground when Baugh broke the bails after smart work from Kraigg Brathwaite.
Number three Watson, who almost ran out Clarke soon after, made amends by hitting five fours and a maximum, but flashed at a wide Kemar Roach delivery and was caught behind for 39.
That dismissal saw Clarke and Hussey start to rebuild, taking advantage of poor deliveries. The former, on 27, was caught behind off Devendra Bishoo but, after challenging the dismissal, stayed at the crease as replays showed there was no evidence of an edge.
Clarke brought up his half-century from 121 balls with am immaculate cover drive off part-time spinner Narsingh Deonarine.
But Bishoo finally got his man as Clarke, who hit a quartet of fours and a maximum, undid all his hard work by holing out to Deonarine at long-off.
The watchful Hussey played his natural game, finding the boundary six times, and, although Wade struggled against Bishoo with fielders around the bat, he survived.