Australia v Pakistan, 1st Test, Melbourne, 4th day December 29, 2009

Relieved Watson aware of tipping point

Shane Watson is lucky Pakistan are one of the worst fielding teams in world cricket as his first Test century was in the hands of Abdur Rauf, but only briefly. On 99, Watson cut hard to point where Rauf misjudged the easy chance and spilled the ball, one of five catches put down by Pakistan during the match, allowing Watson a single to achieve his milestone.

It was a dramatic way to end an agonising stay in the nineties for Watson, who spent 67 minutes, plus the 40-minute lunch break, searching for those ten important runs. Pakistan didn't make things easy; once he reached the nineties they bowled well wide of off stump and the message was if you want it, you've got to take the risk and chase it.

"It took me a long while to get through the nineties," Watson said. "It didn't help my cause scoring freely with the Pakistanis bowling the line they did, it worked nicely for them, stopped my scoring. It meant there was a lot of time spent in the nineties.

"It was nice to see the ball drop out of Mr Rauf's hands, and then I scampered through for the one. I actually didn't get much of a chance to think about it because I hit it really well, before I knew it, it was straight at him. It hit the ground, I didn't have much of a chance to see it. Lucky enough he dropped it for me."

That the missed opportunity came off the bowling of Mohammad Aamer was especially pleasing for Watson, after Aamer peppered him with fast bouncers on the third afternoon. It would have been the sixth wicket for the impressive teenager Aamer, who Watson described as easily the toughest of the Pakistani fast men to face.

Their battle was intense and featured a blown kiss from bowler to batsman after a particularly testing bouncer. Watson was described earlier this month by West Indies captain Chris Gayle as "soft" and he can expect further attention from opposition players, but he was confident such contests would bring out the best in him.

"That's always going to be the case anyway being an opening batsman, fast bowlers going at you are always going to have a bit of a crack anyway," Watson said. "That's the way I love playing. My personality is that I do love competition, I do love getting into a bit of a battle. For me that works perfectly, it gets me really sharp.

"I know where the point is. I know there has only been a couple of times previously that I've gone over it. My boiling point is when my performance falls away and I know when that is. So far no-one's get anywhere near it and when I'm in a fight I'm at my best so hopefully he keeps doing it because it will keep bringing the best out of me."

Watson's batting efforts in both innings - he struck 93 in the first and finished unbeaten on 120 in the second - have helped Australia into a strong position needing seven wickets on the final day for victory. Pakistan require a further 252 runs and Watson said that would be a tough ask on a surface becoming more difficult.

"We know that the way the wicket is, it's definitely a bit up and down," he said. "A few balls are keeping low and the ball's reversing as well. There are a couple of good batters in at the moment. Umar Akmal and Mohammad Yousuf are high-class batters.

"We know we're really going to have to come out hard tomorrow morning and bowl as well as we did in the first innings. The way we bowled in the first innings was one of the most complete bowling performances we]ve been involved in with the Australian team with this group of bowlers. I know we've got it in us to do it again tomorrow morning."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo