Aussie setback as Clarke falls in last over

Last Updated: Dec 06, 2010, 18:03 PM IST

Adelaide: Australia suffered a massive blow with the loss of key batsman Michael Clarke in the final over to leave them facing an uphill battle to salvage the second Test against England at the Adelaide Oval.

Clarke looked on track to go to stumps leading a fighting vanguard only to fall to a catch close to the wicket off part-time spinner Kevin Pietersen with four balls left of the fourth day.

Clarke had appeared to have recaptured his best form after cheap dismissals in Brisbane and the Adelaide first innings before he was out for 80.

At stumps, Australia, chasing 375 runs to save the Test, were 238 for four with Mike Hussey the not out batsman on 44.

The Australian vice-captain went to the crease under pressure following scores of nine and two and his team needing him to produce a long match-saving innings against dominant England, who are chasing their first Adelaide win since 1995.

Rain might yet help Australia`s rearguard after a storm suspended play for an hour after tea with worse weather forecast for tomorrow`s final day.

Top-rated spinner Graeme Swann proved the major threat with his sharp turn out of the rough and captured the key wickets of Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting.

Katich`s painful resistance ended in the 30th over, when he pushed forward to Swann and got a touch for wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

The stoic left-hander battled a painful Achilles injury and hobbled for his 43 off 85 balls to help put on 84 for the opening stand.

Swann got Ponting`s prized wicket when the Aussie skipper came forward and edged to slip, where Paul Collingwood snapped up a great low two-handed catch.

It was a huge setback for the Australians, with Ponting lasting only 21 minutes for his nine when occupation was more important than runs.

Opener Shane Watson again failed to go on after a good start when he nicked Steven Finn to Andrew Strauss at first slip for 57.

PTI