Michael Clarke has made a golden start to his reign as Australia’s full-time cricket captain, with a fighting century underpinning his team’s 7-270 against Bangladesh in Dhaka.
Clarke (101 from 111 balls) pumped his fist in triumph after smashing a six over midwicket to bring up his ton on the third-last ball of Australia’s innings in the one-day international.
He fell caught in the deep next ball to end an excellent knock in draining heat and humidity, with Clarke appearing to battle hand cramps in the final overs.
No other batsman reached 50, as his teammates failed to capitalise on promising starts.
Opener Brad Haddin (10 from 11 balls) fell in the fourth over, backing away once too often and being bowled.
Ex-captain Ricky Ponting (34 from 31 balls) appeared to relish the freedom of relinquishing the leadership to Clarke, playing some sparkling shots during his short stay at the crease.
He and Shane Watson (37 from 32 balls) looked on track to give Australia a huge total when they belted 65 for the second wicket in just eight overs together.
But Ponting’s innings was cut short when poor running and fine fielding combined for a run out.
Watson fell two overs later to a questionable LBW decision, leaving Australia suddenly under pressure at 3-90 in the 14th over.
A scratchy innings from the out-of-form Cameron White (20 from 50 balls) did not help.
White was almost run out, survived an LBW shout and was dropped on 17, before eventually falling caught in the deep in the 30th over, at which stage the Australian innings was stalling at 4-138.
White must be running out of time to find form after a series of low scores in the World Cup.
Clarke and veteran Mike Hussey (33 from 51 balls) then put on an 84-run stand, which started slowly but gradually accelerated.
The momentum faltered again when Hussey fell chasing quick runs in the 46th over and new batsman Steve Smith (one) was bowled attempting a slog five balls later.
But Clarke lifted the pace, helped by some big hitting from Mitchell Johnson (26 from 13), who smashed two sixes, including one on the last ball of the innings.
Suhrawadi Shuvo was the most successful bowler taking 3-44, while fellow left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan was very tight, with 0-34 from 10 overs.