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December 17, 2004
Australia 381 (Langer 191, Shoaib 5-99) and 0 for 15 lead Pakistan 179 (Younis 42, Kasprowicz 5-30) by 217 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
All the fears about Pakistan's dodgy batting line-up coming unstuck on a bouncy WACA pitch proved true as a combination of disciplined bowling and shocking shot-selection bundled them out for 179 on the second day at Perth, 202 behind the Australian first-innings total. The star for Australia was Michael Kasprowicz, who justified the faith the selectors had placed in choosing him ahead of Brett Lee. Bowling a superb length and swinging the ball a shade, he ripped through the Pakistan middle order to return figures of 5 for 30, while Shane Warne reaped the rewards of the pressure exerted by the fast bowlers and bagged three. By close of play, Australia had stretched their overall lead to 217.
Pakistan's batsmen had been struggling since they arrived on Australian soil, and today was no different. Their shambolic display showed that they had learnt nothing from their mistakes in the warm-up match at the same venue. Frustrated by long scoreless periods, they attempted hopelessly expansive strokes which would even put school kids to shame. It needed some sensible batting by Mohammad Sami and Shoaib Akhtar, the two leading wicket-takers in Australia's first innings, to show their more illustrious colleagues what could be achieved with patience, determination, and just a little bit of skill. Not only did they add 60, the biggest partnership of the innings, they frustrated Australia for 29 overs, which probably prompted Ricky Ponting to decide against enforcing the follow-on.
There were periods when Pakistan's top order looked like mounting a challenge - the openers added 32 fairly comfortably, while Younis Khan and Abdul Razzaq put together 48 for the fifth wicket. However, both stands were followed by a flurry of wickets which ensured that Australia never lost their grip on the game.
On a day when both Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie were slightly off the boil, Kasprowicz was easily the pick of Australia's bowlers. He kept a full length, moved the ball around both ways, and maintained an excellent line to both right-handers and left-handers. After a reasonably comfortable start, Pakistan were seriously pushed back by his exceptional spell either side of lunch. He had Salman Butt, who had looked totally assured till that stage, nicking one to Adam Gilchrist for 17 (2 for 45). Then he struck the two blows which rocked the Pakistan innings. Inzamam-ul-Haq (1) was completely deceived by a full delivery which swing away a shade and then seamed in after pitching, getting through his defences and pegging back off stump (3 for 55). Then, another jaffa forced Yousuf Youhana to edge to the keeper (4 for 60), and Pakistan's innings looked like folding in a trice.
Younis (42) and Razzaq (21) stemmed the rot briefly, but both fell to entirely avoidable strokes. Younis attempted a mighty swipe at Warne and holed out to mid-on (5 for 108), while Razzaq failed to capitalise on two reprieves, missing an ingainly hoick to be bowled. When Mohammad Khalil and Kamran Akmal went soon after, Pakistan had lost four wickets for three runs.
Sami and Shoaib then dug in after tea. At one stage, 18 runs came off 21 overs as both batsmen shunned all extravagance. With a view to keeping his strike bowlers fresh for another go at Pakistan, Ponting gave Darren Lehmann a bowl, and then brought himself on. Sami finally allowed himself the liberty to attack, spanking a few boundaries, including an incredible hooked six off Ponting. The return of the strike bowlers did the trick for Australia, with Kasprowicz fittingly getting the final wicket, but by then Australia had abandoned the idea of enforcing the follow-on.
There was more drama in the three overs that Australia batted, when Shoaib left the field complaining of ankle problems, raising question-marks about his availability for the rest of the Australian innings.
Earlier, Shoaib and Sami had combined with the ball too, sharing the two wickets to fall this morning, as Australia lasted only 25 minutes. Kasprowicz fell early, giving Shoaib his first five-for in Australia, while Langer missed his fourth double-century by only nine. Resuming at 181, he added ten before miscuing a pull. Pakistan had done their bit in the field in the morning, but then came their turn to bat, and a familiar story repeated itself.
S Rajesh is an assistant editor of Cricinfo.
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