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Fielding to dictate Michael Clarke's return

Adelaide: Injury-plagued Michael Clarke believes it's his capacity to field at full throttle that will largely dictate when he returns to international cricket.

Australian skipper Clarke Thursday had been set a target of fielding a minimum of 25 overs for an unofficial warm-up match against a Bangladesh XI. He was on the ground for 32 overs before coming off in Brisbane. He is yet to be fit for the World Cup starting Feb 14.

The 34-year-old also bowled two overs apart from scoring 34 runs in his second practice match after hamstring surgery less than eight weeks ago.

However, the skipper acknowledged Friday that it was the sharp catch he took at slip Thursday that perhaps gave him the greatest satisfaction.

"My running is close to full speed now so I'll keep doing some work there. I will keep working hard on my strength and doing as much cricket-related stuff as possible," Clarke was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au. 

"Fielding with Mike Young yesterday at Allan Border Field was a real good start. That's probably the area that I need to be 100 per cent satisfied that my body can cope with going 100 miles an hour. That's the way I've always played my cricket and how I want to continue to play."

Clarke's official deadline to prove his fitness remains Australia's second World Cup pool match, against Bangladesh Feb 21 at the Gabba.

“I don’t want to be restricted in where I field and how I field, I want to be able to play the kind of cricket I’ve played my whole career. I’m always been a believer in fielding being a massive part of having success in any format of the game.”

In releasing an update on Clarke’s rehabilitation last week, physiotherapist Alex Kountouris stated “he remains on target to return as per our original schedule, for the second match of Australia’s World Cup campaign”.

However, the skipper said he's not yet ready to play a One-day International (ODI). He is confident of being fit by Feb 21.

“The gap between me playing yesterday for the CA XI and me walking out and playing a one-day international - there’s still a gap there," he said.

“But I’ll close that gap with the work I do off the field and then once I set foot on the ground I don’t hold anything back. As soon as I can get back on the park I’m keen to play every game for Australia."

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