LONDON // Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, faces the prospect of finishing his distinguished Test career without a half-century at Lord's after he was dismissed cheaply for the second time in the match yesterday. Removed for just 26 the previous day, Ponting lasted just six balls late last night before being trapped lbw for a duck by Mohammed Asif. Ponting's previous best Test score at the famous ground is 42 and given that he will be 38 by the time Australia visit England again in 2013, this may well have been his last appearance at Lord's.
His disappointment will have been compounded by the fact that the delivery from Asif appeared to be swinging down leg side. Ponting was quickly followed back to the pavilion by Michael Clarke, for 12, and Michael Hussey, for a duck, as Australia slumped to 100 for four at the close in reply to Pakistan's total of 148. Australia, however, still lead by 205 runs with six wickets remaining. The day had started well for the visitors as they grasped their opportunity to exploit the swing and seam movement by dismissing the 'home' side cheaply.
The Australians, who have won each of their last 12 Tests against Pakistan, needed only 40.5 overs to take a 105-run first-innings lead. Shane Watson was Australia's bowling hero, becoming the first bowler to earn a place on a new honours board dedicated to players involved in a Test from two overseas countries. Watson, who was promoted to opening batsman in last year's Ashes series, took five for 40 with his medium-pace from the Pavilion End.
He survived a dazzling but all too brief cameo from Shahid Afridi, captaining Pakistan for the first time in a Test match, who smashed 31 from 15 balls, including two sixes off Watson. Salman Butt, his vice-captain, played an altogether more responsible innings, melding resolute defence with wristy elegance to reach 63 in 171 minutes before he was beaten and bowled by Watson. Watson, whose pace proved ideally suited to the conditions, dismissed the Akmal brothers Umar (5) and Kamran (0) lbw in his first two overs.
In the morning session, Hussey, with 56 not out, again demonstrated his ability to marshal the tail-enders by helping Australia extend their overnight total of 229 for nine to 253 all out. At the other end of the day, Watson celebrated his achievements with the ball by opening his account with three boundaries. He lofted Danish Kaneria's leg-spin for six over mid-wicket to bring up his team's half-century and drove Mohammad Asif for a majestic four before he was caught by Imran Farhat at first slip off the next ball for 31.
Meanwhile, Chris Broad, the match referee, has spoken to Mohammad Aamer, the Pakistan fast bowler, about his future conduct after he brushed against Ponting following his dismissal of the Australia captain at Lord's on Tuesday. "Aamer is a young, exciting, talented player full of enthusiasm for this great sport and that is to be celebrated and nurtured," Broad said. "But there are a few things he still has to learn in relation to how to conduct himself on the field of play." * Agencies
Australia innings (229-9 overnight): M Hussey not out 56 D Bollinger b Aamer 4 Extras (b 10, lb 2, w 2, nb 10) 24 Total (all out; 76.5 overs) 253 Bowling: Mohammad Aamer 19.5-2-72-4 (w-2), Mohammad Asif 19-5-63-3, Umar Gul 17-3-32-1 (nb-9), Shahid Afridi 3-0-25-0, Danish Kaneria 18-7-49-2 (nb-1) Pakistan (1st innings): I Farhat c Paine b Hilfenhaus 4 S Buttb b Watson 63 A Ali c Paine b Hilfenhaus 16 U Amin c Paine b Johnson 1 U Akmal lbw b Watson 5 K Akmal lbw b Watson 0 S Afridi c Johnson b Watson 31 Md Aamer c Paine b Bollinger 0 U Gul c Watson b Bollinger 7 D Kaneria c Smith b Watson 14 Md Asif not out 4 Extras (lb 2, nb 1) 3 Total (all out; 40.5 overs) 148 Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-45, 3-54, 4-75, 5-83, 6-117, 7-117, 8-129, 9-133 Bowling: D Bollinger 11-3-38-2, B Hilfenhaus 12-2-37-2 (1nb), M Johnson 10-2-31-1, S Watson 7.5-1-40-5 Australia (2nd innings): S Watson c Imran Farhat b Mohammad Asif 31 S Katich not out 49 R Ponting lbw b Mohammad Asif 0 M Clarke b Umar Gul 12 M Hussey c Imran Farhat b Umar Gul 0 M Johnson not out 2 Extras (lb 1, nb 5) 6 Total (4 wickets; 29.3 overs) 100 Fall of wickets: 1-61, 2-73, 3-97, 4-97 Bowling: Mohammad Aamer 8.3-2-30-0, Mohammad Asif 9-2-30-2, Umar Gul 5-2-7-2 (nb-3), Danish Kaneria 7-1-32-0 (nb-2)