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January 4, 2010
Waqar Younis, Pakistan's bowling coach, said it was "a treat" to watch his side's bowling on the first day of the Sydney Test. Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Sami combined for nine wickets on a grassy SCG pitch to bowl out Australia for 127, allowing Pakistan to take control of the Test by the end of the second day with a lead of over 200 runs.
"We were hungry and disciplined yesterday with the ball and it was a treat to watch," Waqar said. "Sami was on his comeback and when he went out, he looked at things and took responsibility so well to be leader of the attack. The Mohammad Aamer injury was unfortunate but it was a blessing in a way as well."
After Sami had ripped through the top three, Asif picked his way through the rest of the batting, ending with a career-best 6 for 41. The display prompted comparisons with Glenn McGrath in sections of the Australian press, though Waqar was quick to play that down. "Whenever he gets a wicket like this, he will take wickets. The McGrath comparisons are too much because he took over 500 wickets and Asif is still new. The style of bowling is maybe similar but he is a very good bowler."
There were concerns over the third paceman Umar Gul, who had been dropped for the first Test in Melbourne because of poor form. Gul only took one wicket - the last one of Doug Bollinger - and still looked short of form. "He is different to the others. He often has problems with his run-up and rhythm," Waqar said. "He may be lacking a little confidence and didn't get the wickets but I thought he bowled well and was unlucky actually to not get more wickets."
Though Pakistan are in a strong position, Waqar believes they will have to work very hard to win the Test, which would be their first in 15 years against Australia. "We are in a strong position, we have a grip on the match and we could have been stronger. But in Australia you have to work hard to win a Test. They will not just give it to you. We haven't lost a session yet in this Test and I am happy with that. Danish might now become more important."
This is Waqar's second stint as bowling coach with the side. Though his first ended in an acrimonious break-up with the previous board administration, it was a popular and successful tenure; a number of bowlers were happy with his role. He has currently been employed only for this series and said he would only decide at its conclusion whether or not to take it further.
Pakistan are meanwhile confident that Aamer will be available for the third Test, due to begin in Hobart from January 14. Aamer was ruled out of the second Test with a groin complaint but it has required nothing more than regular icing. Members of the team management do not suspect a pull or a tear and his missing out here was more a precaution, especially given that there is a week-long gap between the end of this Test and the start of the third.
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