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

Australia back Shane Watson to break century jinx

Brydon Coverdale at the MCG

December 28, 2009

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Shane Watson hops and fends off a bouncer, Australia v Pakistan, 1st Test, Melbourne, 3rd day, December 28, 2009
Shane Watson was involved in a fierce battle with Mohammad Aamer when a barrage of bouncers tested Australia's opener © Getty Images

Shane Watson has found himself in a familiar position at stumps on the third day in Melbourne but the Australians are hoping the result will be different this time. Watson went to bed on 64 and will be desperate to ensure that this innings is ultimately recorded as his first Test century, not his eighth Test half-century.

Watson has been vulnerable early in the morning after being not-out overnight in the past: at Edgbaston he slept on 62 and didn't add to his score the next day, and in Adelaide he famously was bowled for 96 from the second ball of the morning. Doug Bollinger said the Australians were confident Watson could break through for his first Test hundred.

"He'll sleep pretty sound, some of the boys are tired, we've been working hard," Bollinger said. "But I think he'll be all right. He looks really sharp there and I think he really wants a hundred like most of us."

Watson was involved in a fierce battle with Pakistan's left-arm fast man Mohammad Aamer late on the third day when a barrage of bouncers tested Australia's opener. After one nasty short ball Aamer blew a kiss to Watson, who looked back at him frostily, but the contest remained good-natured.

That was a good result after Watson was involved in an ugly incident in the Perth Test against West Indies, when he was fined for an immature celebration when he dismissed Chris Gayle. Bollinger said the Aamer-Watson battle was pleasing to see.

"It's good mate, it's good for the crowds, it's good for the game," Bollinger said. "We don't want anything like what happened [in Perth] to come out again but it's good for a bit of fire and flair to come out. He bowls fast and fast bowlers are meant to be angry and have a bit to say and Watto batted well and stepped up."

Australia closed the day with a 307-run lead with seven wickets in hand and it will be a very tough challenge for Pakistan to fight their way back into the match. Bollinger picked up 3 for 50 and he was happy with the way the bowlers helped Australia into such a strong position.

"It was pretty hard work but I am really happy the way all of us stuck together and bowled them out," Bollinger said. "The new ball's harder and it comes on a lot more but I think it's going to get lower on the following days and that will be beneficial for us as it will be harder to score."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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