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Clarke Saves First Test

Captain Clarke pulls his country out of a dark place on Day Four.

Michael Clarke pulled Australia out of a deep hole on day four of the first Test at the Gabba with a double century, allowing the home side to surpass South Africa’s first innings total.

The outcome looked bleak for Australia when they took the bat during the final session of day three, but the duo of Clarke and opener Ed Cowan, who had survived a pressure filled Sunday afternoon, continued on Monday.

Cowan registered his maiden Test century, Clarke piled on a huge 218 (not out), and Mike Hussey added a helpful 86 (not out) to finish the day 4-487- a 33 run lead.

It was a heroic effort after Australia fell into a 3-40 hole in the tenth over on day three.

Cowan smashed 17 fours while Clarke hit 21 from his 350 balls faced. The duo produced a 259 run fourth-wicket partnership before Hussey and Clarke combined to score 100 in 100 minutes.

Australia’s plan for the fifth and final day of the Test will be to amass as big a lead as possible and try to bowl the South Africans out during the final two sessions of the match, which will be no easy task.

“The plan is about early in the morning to have a crack and get a good lead and you never know. I’d like another 70 more odd runs in the morning,” said Clarke.

The pitch is said to be one of the flattest in Gabba history and Clarke is hoping that will play into the hands of spinner Nathan Lyon.

Cowan’s job has been called into question in recent months, but his 136 should go a long way in securing his Test spot.

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Follow Robert White on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr.