Gilchrist and Ponting put Australia on top
Pakistan 304 and 1 for 67 (Hameed 40*) trail Australia 568 (Ponting 207, Gilchrist 113, Kaneria 7-188) by 197 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Ricky Ponting made a no-fuss double-century, Adam Gilchrist blasted one of the best hundreds you will see from a No. 6 batsman, and Australia put themselves in a winning position at the end of the third day of the final Test against Pakistan. They put 568 on the board, a commanding lead of 264, and then picked up a wicket, as Pakistan finished on 1 for 67, trailing by a further 197. Salman Butt (21) was the batsman to go, flashing Stuart MacGill's first ball to Shane Warne at slip (46 for 1). Yasir Hameed, not out on 40, resisted stoutly, though.
Most sides would have been careful when they came out to bat after the first session was lost to rain. Not Australia. They charged at the opposition, with Gilchrist, in particular, hitting virtually every bowler out of the attack till Yousuf Youhana had no arrows left in his quiver. Gilchrist's innings ensured that Australia made up all the lost time, gave Pakistan no breathing room, and continued to march towards a series whitewash.
Gilchrist was severe on the bowling en route to his 13th Test century, cutting in front of square and lofting over midwicket whenever the ball was a touch short. The full deliveries were not much more threatening - other than one early on from Shoaib Akhtar that angled away and Gilchrist flashed past the slip cordon - and were met with the full face of the bat. The one iffy moment for Gilchrist came when he was on 49 and Shoaib sent down a well-directed bouncer, with the field back for the hook. Gilchrist took his eyes off the ball at the last minute and miscued his stroke, but the ball hit the bat high up and ballooned to safety halfway from where the fielder was stationed.
Ponting was fluent, if less belligerent than Gilchrist. He waited for the loose ball to score off, and his form ensured that even small errors in line were punished. The manner in which he timed the ball through the off side left fielders rooted to their positions, unable to do anything to stem the flow of runs.
Danish Kaneria, who went on to pick up his 100th Test wicket en route to 7 for 188 from a mammoth 49.3 overs, was the one bowler Gilchrist had not torn to shreds. Kaneria gave the ball plenty of air, and attempted to exploit the rough outside the left-hander's off stump. But even with the ball turning sharply, Gilchrist set his mind on going over the top, and did so with panache. In Kaneria's 33rd over, the 100th of the innings, Gilchrist slammed three consecutive boundaries - twice through cover and once back over the bowler's head. Watching this from the other end, Ponting eased his way towards his double-century.
Mohammad Asif had relatively more success in keeping Gilchrist quiet, and did not have a boundary scored off him in 16 overs. Then, as though Gilchrist was aware of this fact, he clubbed Asif for consecutive sixes over midwicket to deliveries that were not even particularly short. Having made it to 94, Gilchrist then attempted to drop-kick a fuller one over the bowler's head to get to three figures, but the ball fell just short of the ropes and he only got four runs for his trouble.
But that didn't deter Gilchrist, as he lofted Shahid Afridi straight back over his head after he had replaced Asif in the attack. The ball pinged the sightscreen, and Gilchrist had gone past Andy Flower's record of most centuries by a wicketkeeper. Remarkably, his 100 had come off just 108 balls, and included 14 fours and four sixes. Then, against the run of play, and within touching distance of a century in a session, Gilchrist jumped down the wicket to Kaneria, was beaten in the air and off the pitch, and was stumped (5 for 471).
Shane Watson, batting for the first time in Tests, began well, striking three boundaries for his first scoring shots. He struggled to pick Kaneria's googly, and was probably out caught and bowled when he jammed one back to the bowler, but nevertheless helped himself to 31. Ponting, meanwhile, chipped Naved-ul-Hasan past mid-on to bring up his fourth double-century. But Naved had small consolation soon after, when Ponting dragged a ball back onto his stumps after scoring 207 (6 for 529). The tail then wagged vigorously enough, pushing the score on to 568.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo.