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Australia captain Clarke hits 45 on return

June 27, 2013

TAUNTON, England (AP) — Australia captain Michael Clarke looked in good shape as he hit 45 in a tour match against Somerset on Thursday, the batsman’s first competitive innings in three months because of a long-standing back injury.

Clarke is attempting to prove his fitness ahead of the Ashes series against England starting on July 10, having been sidelined since March with the injury.

He batted for 110 minutes and hit seven fours in a 95-ball knock before edging behind, falling short of his 50.

Shane Watson, restored as an opener in place of the suspended David Warner, was the most impressive batsman on display, smashing 20 fours in a 94-ball 90 to propel Australia toward Somerset’s first-innings total of 320.

Rain brought an early end to the second day’s play just before tea, with Australia on 266-4.

This is the first of two warm-up matches for the Australians before the Ashes begins at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.

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