Aussies hold out for record Test win
Australia's bid for a record-equalling 12th successive Test victory against Pakistan is at the mercy of Hobart's notoriously fickle weather as well as a flat Bellerive pitch after skipper Ricky Ponting surprisingly elected not to enforce the follow-on on day three. After part-time spinner Simon Katich grabbed three quick wickets - his first Test scalps for nearly a year - to enable Australia to steamroll the Pakistan middle order following a courageous century from day two bad boy Salman Butt, Australia led on the first innings by 218 runs after bowling the visitors out for 301. But despite the forecast of rain for days four and five and the fact Australia will need maximum time to take another 10 wickets on a pitch that has coughed up just 19 wickets in three days, Ponting chose to bat again even though he said at stumps on day two that he would enforce the follow-on if given the opportunity. Instead Australia ended day three at 59 for one - with Shane Watson the man out for one - an overall lead of 277 with two days remaining. A victory by Australia here would equal the world record for most Test wins in succession against the same opponent - 12 currently held by Sri Lanka against Bangladesh - as Australia look to complete their fourth successive 3-0 whitewash against Pakistan. But if Pakistan are to emerge from this game with a draw they will have opener Salman Butt to thank as well as a stubborn last wicket stand of 53 between fast bowlers Umar Gul and Mohammad Asif, which kept the Aussie bowlers out on the field until just after tea and no doubt had an influence in Ponting's decision not to bowl again. Butt certainly made amends for costing his team the key wickets of skipper Mohammad Yousuf and young gun Umar Akmal on day two by his refusal to run on both occasions as he brought up his third Test century and his second against Australia. With recalled former skipper Shoaib Malik providing great support the tourists - who resumed at 94 for four - at one stage reached 213 four four before a collapse costing them four wickets for 14 in the space of eight overs, sparked by Katich, proved their undoing. Katich's rare visit to the bowling crease only came about as Ponting sought to get through the last few overs before the second new ball was due at the 80-over mark. But Katich, who bowls the rarest type of deliveries in Test cricket - left arm leg-spin or 'chinaman' as it is more commonly referred to, bamboozled the Pakistanis immediately and showed once again that he is an underrated and under-used bowler for his country. Certainly the Pakistani batsmen, who were both well set, were immediately thrown out of their comfort zone as Katich - who before today had taken just 18 Test wickets in his 48 Test career - struck in only his second over. And it was the prized scalp of Butt, who prodded a spinning delivery to Michael Clarke at first slip to fall for 102. After Australia rarely looked like taking a wicket in the first three hours of play, suddenly every Katich delivery appeared to contain kryptonite as Katich - who has bowled rarely in recent times because of a combination of back soreness and a lack of confidence in his own bowling ability - began to resemble the bowler who once took six for 65 against Zimbabwe in only his second Test in Sydney way back in October, 2003. In his next over Katich claimed keeper Sarfraz Ahmed for just one, also caught by Clarke at first slip, while his third wicket came in his sixth over when Mohammad Aamer compounded his first-day dropped catch on Ponting which cost his team 209 runs by playing a dreadful shot straight to Shane Watson at cover. So well did Katich bowl - taking three for 34 off 10 overs - that Ponting eventually delayed taking the new ball for 16 overs as he went with spin at both ends as Australia's number one spinner Nathan Hauritz also chipped in with two wickets. The first was the key wicket of Malik for 58, who also fell to a slog shot which went straight to Doug Bollinger at mid-on, while his second wicket was that of Danish Kaneria, who also put precious little value on his wicket as he simply spooned the off-spinner straight to Ponting at mid-wicket.
Australia 519-8 decl. Pakistan (first innings, overnight 94-4): I Farhat c Haddin b Siddle 38 S Butt c Clarke b Katich 101 K Manzoor c Ponting b Siddle 0 M Yousuf run out 7 U Akmal run out 8 S Malik c Bollinger b Hauritz 58 S Ahmed c Clarke b Katich 1 M Aamer c Watson b Katich 4 U Gul not out 38 D Kaneria c Ponting b Hauritz 8 M Asif c Hussey b Hauritz 29 Extras (2b, 2lb, 2w, 2nb) 8 Total: (all out, 105.4 overs) 301 Fall of wickets: 1-63, 2-63, 3-74, 4-84, 5-213, 6-215, 7-219, 8-227, 9-248, Bowling: D Bollinger 15-6-35-0 P Siddle 20-8-39-2 M Johnson 20-2-76-0 N Hauritz 33.4-9-96-3 S Watson 7-2-17-0 S Katich 10-3-34-3 Australia (second innings): S Watson c Yousuf b Watson 1 S Katich batting 33 R Ponting batting 25 Total (for 1 wicket, 18 overs) 59 FoW: 1-1 Bowling: M Asif 4-0-12-0 M Aamer 5-2-14-1 U Gul 5-0-27-0 D Kaneria 4-2-6-0
Published: January 16, 2010 04:00 AM