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Clarke declares after strong innings

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By Nick Mulvenney

Brisbane - Australia captain Michael Clarke declared at 565-5 with a first innings lead of 115 over South Africa on Tuesday, giving his bowlers more than two sessions to get the tourists out and claim victory on the final day of the first Test.

Clarke was unbeaten on 259 when he made the declaration on a bright and sunny morning at the Gabba, having added 41 runs to his personal tally and taken the record for the highest individual score at the famous Brisbane ground.

The 31-year-old shared a partnership of 228 with Mike Hussey, who reached his 17th Test century in 128 balls with a rushed single before being dismissed on the next delivery he faced.

Morne Morkel claimed the wicket, his third, with substitute fielder Faf du Plessis taking a fine catch at full stretch at short cover.

It was Clarke, who had resumed on 218 with his team on 487-4 in reply to South Africa's 450, who shone brightest with the bat, however, and he crashed a Dale Steyn delivery back over the bowler's head to bring up his 250 with his 28th four.

His innings, from 398 deliveries in 582 minutes, eclipsed England's Alastair Cook's 235 scored in the opening test of the Ashes series two years ago.

Wade provided back up with 19 runs from 35 balls and looked set for more when his skipper, determined to try and force a result, declared during the drinks break.

It was a remarkable turnaround for Australia, who were reeling at 40 for three when Clarke took the crease on Sunday afternoon.

South Africa's number one Test ranking is on the line in the series, which continues with matches in Adelaide and Perth after Brisbane. - Reuters

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