Australia wait on Clarke, Marsh fitness

Captain Michael Clarke and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh will likely play in Australia’s first Test against Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, which will get underway on Wednesday.

Clarke and Marsh are nursing hamstring injuries, but are expected to recover for the series opener. Chairman of selectors Rod Marsh, however, won’t decide on the final XI until the morning of the match.

“Their fitness is fine. I can only go on what the physiotherapist says. He’s pretty happy, the doctor is happy, I’m happy,” said Marsh.

The Australians are contemplating two specialist spinners on a pitch expected to provide plenty of turn, with the in-form Steve O’Keefe tipped to debut alongside the experienced Nathan Lyon.

O’Keefe and Lyon were relatively successful in tandem during the tour match against Pakistan A in Sharjah recently.

“O’Keefe] bowled nicely, as did Nathan. I thought Nathan bowled better in the second innings than he did in the first innings and I thought Steve bowled better in the first innings than he did in the second. But that’s understandable,” added Marsh.

“Steve bowled 23 overs I think from memory in the first innings and it was his first bowl since Townsville, I think, for Australia A, and he’d have felt a bit stiff and sore. It took him a while to get going in the second innings, but that’s fine.

“He’ll be better for the run, as will Nathan, as will Glenn Maxwell. They’ll all be better for the run. I’m reasonably happy with the way the spinners went.”