Australia v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Sydney, 2nd day

Comebacks and close calls

Peter English and Osman Samiuddin at the SCG

January 4, 2010

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Brett Lee signs autographs, Australia v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Sydney, 2nd day, January 4, 2010
Brett Lee was an onlooker at the SCG but is aiming to be fit for the ICC World Twenty20 © Getty Images
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Katich chases quick return
Australia remain hopeful Simon Katich will be available for the final Test in Hobart after scans showed bruising to the bone and tendon in his right elbow. Katich, who was hit by Mohammad Aamer in Melbourne, was ruled out shortly before the toss on Sunday and will see Alex Kountouris, the team physiotherapist, again on Tuesday. "We are hopeful he will be available for selection for the next Test," Kountouris said.

Lee eyes World Twenty20
Brett Lee is also on the comeback trail following elbow surgery and is aiming for the World Twenty20 in the West Indies in April. He had the operation in November and was at the SCG planning his way back, although he is still unsure how much more his body can take. "It has been a 16-week injury with ligament damage," Lee told Nine. "There's a couple of bone spurs in there which have been taken out. I've had 12 operations now. This has probably been the worst. It has probably been the most painful. I'm pretty positive. Let's wait and see what happens." At 33, Lee has played 76 Tests and taken 310 wickets, but if he decides he wants to continue playing his future will probably centre around the limited-overs contests.

The new Hayden-Langer
Have Pakistan finally resolved their opening woes? Imran Farhat and Salman Butt's opening stand of 109 was their third century stand in nine Tests and they have a couple of fifty partnerships to go with it. Why they've only opened that many times over five years is anybody's guess. In Pakistan's current opening landscape that is the stuff of Hayden and Langer.

Nervy start?
Come out, give the bowler the first half hour, settle down and make hay? Not if you're Umar Akmal. The very first ball he faced from Nathan Hauritz he drove through the covers for four. Next ball was cut square for the same result. He played out one ball before coolly depositing the next two through midwicket. For good measure he square drove his next ball from Mitchell Johnson to end up with five fours from the first seven balls he faced.

Vice-captain under review
Michael Clarke briefly took over the captaincy in the middle session when Ricky Ponting was off the field and he quickly added a strange choice for a review. Shane Watson got one to cut back to Mohammad Yousuf on the way to Brad Haddin and the Australians appealed, both for the original decision and Asoka de Silva's not out. Replays showed the ball hit the front pad flap and his sweater, but was not close to the bat or the glove. Ponting returned swiftly with only one review remaining.

North heading south
After a boom start to his Test career, Marcus North is in a rut, owning five scores of 16 or less in his seven innings this summer. The confusion over his batting, and subsequent pressure on his place, has also spread to his fielding. Last year North had a couple of problems at first slip but was persevered with and developed into a comfortable choice in between Haddin and Ponting. However, he spilled Australia's main chance of the first session when he missed Farhat in the fourth over of the morning. Farhat was 11 on the way to 53.

More close calls
Haddin had a chance to run-out Farhat when the batsman had charged Watson and missed before ambling back to his crease. Had Haddin's underarm been more accurate the batsman would have been gone for 40. Nothing was going the Australians' way and Watson followed through to deliver a verbal blast to the relieved Farhat. He was fortunate again on 42 when called for a single from Butt, but Johnson was unable to force a direct hit at the striker's end from cover. Two runs later Farhat played back to Nathan Hauritz, who offered a soft appeal that was turned down, but Hawkeye showed it hitting leg.

Flying high
Shane Watson is the most athletic of the Australians and he showed his skills with an outstanding back-tracking catch at deep point to remove Faisal Iqbal. The hosts needed some inspiration and the fine take, which came with him off the ground and lunging backwards, gave them a lift. Haddin soon took off to his right to intercept Mohammad Yousuf's edge on a tough day for the home side.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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