LEEDS, ENGLAND // Umar Gul described Australia captain Ricky Ponting's decision to bat first in the second Test at Headingley as "shocking" after the Antipodeans recorded their second lowest Test total against Pakistan today. Australia's batsmen were left humiliated as they scrambled to 88 all out in 33.1 overs, just eight runs more than the previous lowest mark set in Karachi in 1956.
Mohammad Aamer, the teenage left-armer, and Mohammad Asif claimed three wickets apiece while Gul, the seamer, chipped in with two of his own as the Australians failed to deal with the swinging ball under cloudy skies. Ponting's decision to bat came as an added surprise because his side were the beneficiaries of similar conditions 12 months ago, when they skittled England for 102 on the opening day of the fourth Ashes Test at the same venue.
Gul admitted he had expected to be batting when the Australians won the toss. "The wicket looked a bit light this morning - it looked a bit like a batting wicket but there was a bit of moisture from last night when it was raining," he said. "There was moisture under the wicket so I think it was a shocking decision, especially for Australia. "I don't know what the captain and coach's decision was going to be but if we won the toss we [the Pakistan bowlers] were ready to bowl first.
"When the clouds come it starts swinging and when the sun comes it is a bit flat and good for the batsmen. It all depends on the clouds when you can get some swing and seam. "This morning it was swinging a lot and the ball was seaming. So there was pressure for everyone. "It was good for us and I hope the batsmen will do well." Pakistan's batsman set about the task of building a commanding first-innings lead as they reached stumps on 148 for three to open a lead of 60 runs.
Australia's bowlers failed to find the same sort of movement in the air to match Pakistan's threat, and Gul believes it was simply because his team-mates bowled better. "So far in the first and second Test we are bowling better than Australia because we are bowling a fuller length. Our line and length is better than Australia," the 26-year-old assessed. "It was a good day for us. The bowlers did very well. Aamer, Asif and myself did very well as we planned before the game."
Pakistan will begin today looking to build on their lead and Gul said they would be aiming for nothing less than a 200-run advantage as they look to claim a first Test win over Australia in 15 years. "We are planning to put on another 150 to lead by around 200. We need to bat well to get that and then we will have a good chance," he added. Following the exchange between Aamer and Ponting in the last Test, the game again had another flashpoint. Australia were annoyed by another edge of the bat of Azhar and went for four through gull off Ben Hilfenhaus. The strapping seamer appeared to give a verbal volley to the young batsman with Ponting, the captain, adding a few words of his own. * PA
At stumps on day one of the second Test between Pakistan and Australia at Headingley. Australia 1st Innings Shane Watson lbw b Asif 5 Simon Katich lbw b Aamer 13 Ricky Ponting lbw b Asif 6 Michael Clarke b Gul 3 Michael Hussey lbw b Gul 5 Marcus North c Akmal b Amin 16 Tim Paine c Akmal b Asif 17 Steven Smith b Aamer 10 Mitchell Johnson b Aamer 0 Ben Hilfenhaus run out Amin 3 Doug Bollinger not out 2 Extras: (6lb, 2nb) 8 TOTAL: 88 Overs: 33.1. Fall of wickets: 1-20, 2-20, 3-27, 4-29, 5-41, 6-60, 7-73, 8-73, 9-86, 10-88. Bowling: Mohammad Aamer 11-4-20-3, Mohammad Asif 10.1-1-30-3 (1nb), Umar Gul 9-3-16-2 (1nb), Umar Amin 2-0-7-1, Danish Kaneria 1-0-9-0. Pakistan 1st Innings Imran Farhat lbw b Watson 43 Salman Butt b Hilfenhaus 45 Azhar Ali c Paine b Watson 30 Umar Amin not out 1 Umar Akmal not out 8 Extras: (11b, 6lb, 4nb) 21 TOTAL: (for 3 wickets) 148 Overs: 39. Fall of wickets: 1-80, 2-133, 3-140. Still to bat: Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Aamer, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria, Mohammad Asif. Bowling: Doug Bollinger 11-4-24-0 (1nb), Ben Hilfenhaus 13-1-56-1 (3nb), Shane Watson 6-2-12-2, Mitchell Johnson 8-0-32-0, Steven Smith 1-0-7-0.