Australia v Pakistan, 1st Test, Perth, 3rd day December 18, 2004

Australia tighten the noose

Pakistan 179 and 1 for 18 need 546 more runs to beat Australia 381 and 5 for 361 dec ((Martyn 100*, Ponting 98, Langer 97)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary

Damien Martyn piled on the agony for Pakistan with an unbeaten 100 © AFP

For the second day in a row, Australia did all the running and completely shut Pakistan out of the game. Damien Martyn stroked a sublime century and Ricky Ponting and Justin Langer missed theirs by a whisker as Australia declared their second innings on 5 for 361. That left Pakistan the small matter of scoring 564 for victory, and in the six overs of play before close, they lost Imran Farhat to close on 1 for 18.

Pakistan had taken all the points on the opening session of the Test, but since then it's been one-way traffic. Langer and Adam Gilchrist snatched the initiative away from them on the first day, their batsmen were hopelessly shambolic on the second, and today Pakistan had more misery heaped on them by Martyn, Langer (97) and Ponting (98). As if being pummeled by the Australian batsmen wasn't bad enough, Pakistan were further hampered by a couple of injuries in the field. Inzamam-ul-Haq was off the field for 140 minutes with a back problem - though the sharp chance he took at first slip to dismiss Michael Clarke just after returning made you wonder what kind of back-fixing treatment was administered in the dressing-room - while Shoaib Akhtar, easily Pakistan's best bowler of the match, hurt his left shoulder while diving in the field and went off early in the afternoon session.

Going into the third day, Australia already had a cushion of 215 runs, and they ensured that there would be no let-up for Pakistan. Barring early spells from Shoaib and Mohammad Sami, both of whom bowled with plenty of fire and swung the ball appreciably, the Australians were seldom bothered. Shoaib got an early strike during that spell, forcing Matthew Hayden to shoulder arms to one that came back and knocked off stump (1 for 28), but then Langer and Ponting took over.

Both saw off Pakistan's main men, and then made merry against the lesser bowlers. Abdul Razzaq and Mohammad Khalil bowled at a friendly medium pace, while Danish Kaneria was largely innocuous, though he managed prodigious turn on occasions.

Justin Langer carried on from where he had left off in the first innings, making 97 in the second © AFP

As in the first innings, Langer was in glorious form, peppering the off side with exquisite extra-cover drives. Yousuf Youhana, the stand-in captain, refused to post a sweeper in that position to check the runs, and Langer cashed in, repeated threading the gap between cover and mid-off. And when the ball was dropped short, he quickly latched on with pulls and cuts.

Ponting, on the other hand, wasn't entirely assured at the start. The footwork was unsure, his head was falling over towards the off side, and deliveries outside off were being forced to leg. However, as his innings went along, the fluency came back, as did the drives through cover and the swivelled pull off anything even marginally shot. His best shot of the day, though, was a magnificent straight-drive off Razzaq, off a similar delivery to the one which had bowled him in the first innings.

The two added 163 for the second wicket, with Langer upping the ante as he neared his century - he moved from 85 to 97 in five balls - but he fell just three short of becoming the first batsman to score a hundred in each innings of a Perth Test when he nicked one onto his stumps off Razzaq (2 for 191).

There was no respite for Pakistan, though, as Martyn shrugged off his first-innings failure and played with the grace and elegance that's his hallmark. He hardly needed any time to get his eye in, unveiling some crisp flicks off his legs and drives through cover. His stand-out stroke, though, was the late-cut against Kaneria and Farhat, who tried his hand at some quickish legbreaks. Repeatedly the spinners bowled fractionally short outside off, and repeatedly Martyn rocked back and tapped the ball unerringly into the gaps behind square.

Australia lost a few wickets at the other end, most notably that of Ponting, who dragged his back foot out while attempting a sweep and was smartly stumped by Kamran Akmal. Darren Lehmann and Clarke didn't make too many, but that hardly mattered. The declaration came immediately after Martyn got his hundred, and when Farhat was trapped in front by an indipper from Glenn McGrath, Pakistan's misery was complete.

S Rajesh is an assistant editor of Cricinfo.