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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Australia batting folds as Pakistan bowlers exploit conditions: T2 D1

Pakistan 3/148 (39 ov) lead Australia 88 (33.1 ov) by 60 runs on first innings: T2/ D1 Headingley, Leeds

If you'd predicted before play started that one team would, after the first day's play in T2, have a lead of 60 with seven first innings wickets in hand almost everyone would have thought you were very wide of the mark (and the form guide), but that if it, or anything like it, did happen it would be Australia, not the supposedly dysfunctional Pakistan, in that position. Wrong.

The atmosphere was, as for the first few days at Lord's, conducive to swing bowling. The Pakistan bowlers exploited it well brilliantly. Simon Katich didn't reprise his Lord's anchorman role, nor did anyone else step into his shoes after he was first out at 20, what turned out to be the highest partnership of an Australian batting meltdown .

Mohammad Aamer 11-4 - 20 -3, Mohammad Amin 10.1 - 1- 30 -3 and Umar Gul 9-3-16-2 used the conditions most effectively ( and even part-timer Umar Amin chipped in with 1/7 from 2 overs) Their accuracy and movement troubled all the Australians, who looked collectively and individually out of sorts (and form).

There's no avoiding the unpalatable fact that the captain, vice-captain, Mr Cricket and the senior pro (Katich) were all out before lunch after contributing 19 between them.

6/73 at lunch was poor enough yet Mohammad Aamer snuffed out any hope of an Australian revival with the first two balls after the interval when he bowled Steve Smith and Mitchell Johnson (and wasn't far off claiming a hat trick with his third)

Pakistan didn't fall apart with the bat either, though the Australian bowling, apart from Shane Watson's two late wickets, lacked the accuracy and nip to keep them under pressure. While Pakistan has a reputation for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory it'll require a turnabout like the one six months ago at Sydney for Australia to win from here.


Cricinfo Bulletin

Fox Sports Report with link to video highlights.

Update 22 July (before start of D2 play)

Many commentators have made much of the fact that Ricky Ponting won the toss and chose to bat instead of putting Pakistan in. I haven't because, as far as I can tell from watching the highlights on Foxtel (confession: I went to bed soon after the Pakistan innings began), there wasn't much change in the conditions between the two innings, There may have been a liilte more sunshine but the fundamental truth is that the Pakistan bowlers bowled more accurately than did the Australians and reaped the rewards.
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