Saturday, July 24, 2010
Nailbiting finish should be unlikely as Pakistan need 40 with 7 wickets in hand to win T2
Pakistan 258 & 3/140 (37 ov, Imran Farhat 67) need another 40 runs to beat Australia 88 and 349 (95.3 ov, S Smith 77, M Clarke 77, R Ponting 66, Mohammad Aamer 4/86): T2 D3 at Headingley, Leeds.
A fascinating day of Test cricket, with some limited over passages of play. What made it especially fascinating was that it was Pakistan, not Australia, who won most of the skirmishes. Victory is now within their reach: to grasp it they need to score 40 more runs without losing 7 wickets.
Ricky Ponting added only five to his overnight total and his departure for 66/116b (7x4) put Australia even further in strife at 3/144. While Michael Clarke looked sound neither Mike Hussey nor Marcus North lasted long against Mohammad Aamer, who again bowled beautifully. The vice-captain and Tim Paine wiped off the deficit and began to stir Australian fantasies, but at 217 Clarke was out for a commendable though in the circumstances - because a substantial century was needed from him - disappointing 77/143b (7x4). Tim Paine looked solid in making 33/84b (5x4) but he holed out to a short ball from Danish Kaniera when a fifty looked likely.
7/246 was palpably inadequate but fortunately Steve Smith chanced his arm and eye and led the lower order (tail is too patronising a term for them after their performances in this series) to 349 all out, leaving Pakistan to make 180.
Smith's 77/100b (9x4, 2x6) was an adaptation of his T20 style to Test cricket; He didn't play and miss much but chose his balls to hit and hit them hard. Spectacular, and it brought Australia back into the match, maybe not to favouritism but certainly to competitiveness.
When they began the chase the Australian bowlers bowled with a good measure of fire but again lacked accuracy. Yet it was Shane Watson's dropping of Imran Farhat at first slip - the sort of thing often associated with Pakistan in a tight situation - which took some of the wind out of Australia's sails. Salman Butt fell to Ben Hilfenhaus but Farhat and Azhar Ali added 110 for the second wicket Doug Bollinger bowled Farhat and had Umar Amin caught behind for a duck.
1/137 to 3/140 in most other Pakistan Test innings would presage disaster, but when the total is only 180 and the Australian attack has toiled honestly but without a sharp edge I can't see how that could (or will) happen.
Cricinfo Bulletin (with clumsy headline "Pakistan close in on rare Aussie victory")
Fox Sports Report with link to video highlights,