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January 7, 2010
Nathan Hauritz, one of Australia's final-day heroes at SCG, must have felt like he was meeting with his doctor.
How's your chest? "No bruise, just a small mark."
And your thumb? "It's okay. It's still a bit sore but I've had all the medical checks and everything like that."
And your head? "Not too bad, we had a few beers with the boys, but unfortunately the finger stopped me having too many more. I've just got to look after it."
The nail of Hauritz's left thumb was ripped off when Mohammad Yousuf charged at the offspinner and muscled a thumping drive that also crunched into his chest. "I didn't really catch it in the end, it just hit my body and stayed there," Hauritz said. "I hardly saw it, to be honest, it was just lucky that it hit my body because it would've went for four."
There were many moments on the final day that changed the course of the game, but Hauritz's chest take ensured Australia's stunning comeback and led to a 36-run win and a 2-0 series success. Yousuf, the captain, had taken Hauritz for three fours in his previous over and was looking dangerous, but when he departed the threat had gone and Pakistan were quickly on the way to being dismissed for 139.
In the moments after Yousuf's thunderball Hauritz was more worried about the pain in his thumb. His team-mates weren't. As Hauritz lay on the pitch after being forced to the ground by the ball, Ricky Ponting mockingly rolled Hauritz on his side to put him in the recovery position. The ribbing continued during the night of celebrations.
"Every time they had a beer they opened it and called me hard as nails," Hauritz said. "It's pretty soft, I guess, in the end. It's one of those things that happens." Blood from the cut had seeped through the bandage and was still visible the morning after the game.
He said the pain was the greatest he had felt on a cricket ground, but he was soon experiencing the most extreme pleasure after taking 5 for 53 and bowling Australia to victory in back-to-back Tests. "The agony went pretty quickly," he said after watching Misbah-ul-Haq cut to gully and then mopping up Mohammad Sami, Danish Kaneria and Umar Gul. The haul was responsible for concluding Australia's dramatic turnaround, which started with Michael Hussey and Peter Siddle's partnership of 123 for the ninth wicket, leaving Pakistan needing 176 to win.
"It's something I always wanted to be part of, on a fourth- or fifth-day wicket at the SCG, spinning the team to victory," Hauritz said. "The celebrations last night were proof of that."
Usually a bowler who has taken 12 wickets at 24.08 in two Tests would be given more respect at the next meeting, but Hauritz is not expecting any relief in Hobart from Thursday. "Every time I come on to bowl they look to absolutely take me everywhere," he said. "It's definitely a big challenge. I don't expect any different in Hobart and Hobart is one of the most difficult wickets to bowl spin on."
What the wickets have done is provide him with confidence and a belief that he belongs in the Test team. The five-for in Melbourne was his maiden collection in first-class cricket and he has always been worried about his place. In between times he has picked up groin and heel complaints but providing all his ailments are taken care of, he can enjoy the feeling of having a secure position.
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