Australia v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Sydney, 1st day

Australia storm back after Salman Butt's century

The Bulletin by Peter English

January 2, 2005

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Pakistan 9 for 292 (Salman Butt 108, MacGill 5-87) v Australia
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details



Salman Butt was the backbone of the Pakistan innings © Getty Images
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Australia began the New Year with a new-look line-up, but it was a veteran and a returning legspinner who ensured that the first day ended in the old dominating fashion. As they had on Boxing Day, Pakistan stepped promisingly ahead as they were carried by Salman Butt's first Test century, but the topple began in the third session, and Glenn McGrath and Stuart MacGill scattered seven wickets.

MacGill, playing in only his ninth Test alongside Shane Warne, overshadowed the game's greatest wicket-taker, and McGrath reminded Ricky Ponting that he was worth the wait with three. The two Big Macs dumped Pakistan from an envious 1 for 193 to a comparatively disastrous 9 for 292 before they accepted a bad-light offer with eight overs remaining.

Ponting was handed five bowlers to play with in a test-tube attack as MacGill and Shane Watson replaced Michael Kasprowicz and Darren Lehmann for this dead-rubber Test. But Ponting had too many toys in the opening sessions, and the crease was crowded with experiments. The backlog meant McGrath didn't start his second spell until 4.07pm. He had been missed, and immediately leapt into Butt (4 for 241) before knocking back Naved-ul-Hasan (7 for 261) and Shoaib Akhtar (8 for 261) in a satisfying spell.

The change in MacGill after his first wicket was extreme. Yasir Hameed welcomed him back for his first Test since Kandy last March with two fours in his first over, and after six he was leaking a run a ball. His day changed when Younis Khan drove him straight to McGrath (2 for 193), and from then on he again looked like a Test bowler with the sort of sharp spin that's rarely spotted on a first-day pitch.

Employing two slips at times and bowling in tandem with Warne after tea, MacGill watched Yousuf Youhana push a tame catch to Warne at first slip (3 for 209), forced Asim Kamal to slog to Jason Gillespie at mid-on (5 for 241), and picked up Shahid Afridi with a waist-high full-toss that flew to McGrath on the square-leg boundary. It was traditional legspin of big turn and the threat of wicket-taking bad balls. His fifth arrived with Danish Kaneria's edge to Gilchrist, a fierce celebration and the knowledge that wickets in the Pura Cup do sometimes get noticed.

While choosing MacGill was an instant success, judgment of the allrounder Watson, who became Australia's 391st Test player, must wait until he has shown both facets of his game. Pakistan made four changes - three down to injuries and illness - from Melbourne, and only Hameed provided batting value to a side that lost both previous Tests inside four days.

Pakistan's only positive after tea was Butt's century, as they spoiled an ideal opportunity to post an intimidating first-day total. Hameed - who survived two reprieves in Gillespie's first over when dropped by Warne and Gilchrist - and Butt upset a large home crowd expecting submission with bright and controlled resistance through a 102-run opening stand.

Butt played the innings Pakistan had wanted from him all tour with a composed display when measured against those of his team-mates. The cheeky smile the moment after the ball trickled into the boundary showed the relief and joy of his maiden Test century.

Unlike the rest of the order, Butt paced his innings and was rewarded for tempering his approach. Steady before lunch, he increased his tempo, first bringing up his half-century, and then his highest Test score as he sped towards three figures. At Melbourne he reached 70 as Pakistan briefly scared their rivals, and Australia were in a tight spot thanks to this talented 20-year-old. Pulling Warne to midwicket for his fifty, Butt accelerated to 82 with four boundaries, including three in an over behind point off Watson, before Warne and MacGill almost slowed him to distraction. The pair were stifling, but he managed to stay in control, although he almost departed to the ball that brought up his hundred, an ugly swipe which dropped centimetres short of the diving McGrath at deep square leg.

The applause was deserved, but what Butt needed was another half-century in support. Instead he was part of the rush to the dressing-room instigated by two Australian bowlers desperate for recognition after waiting their turns.

Peter English is Cricinfo's Australasian editor.

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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