A confession and a century
The truth, at last
For 10 years Justin Langer has denied he edged Wasim Akram during his amazing escape with Adam Gilchrist in Hobart in 1999-2000. Needing 369, Australia were 5 for 126 when the pair came together and orchestrated a stand of 238 that was brave, unbelievable and controversial. Until now Langer has sworn, even to his father (his Dad, not the Almighty), that his bat handle broke when he aimed a drive at Akram and survived a caught-behind appeal. But a decade on he has changed his plea. "I absolutely smashed it," Langer told Nine at tea on the first day.
That was also the match of the "can't bowl, can't throw" jibe at Scott Muller, which was eventually claimed by "Joe the Cameraman". The finger was also pointed at Shane Warne, but Nine's Joe didn't do a Langer, and still maintains it was him.
To pull or not to pull?
The debate over Ricky Ponting's favourite shot has run through much of the summer. He has insisted all along he would continue pulling, despite questions over whether he is as good at it as he once was. After a first-ball dismissal to the stroke in Sydney, he went for it again here, off his fourth ball, only to pop it straight up in the air to Mohammad Aamer at deep fine leg. It looked more difficult to drop than it did to catch it and yet somehow it was spilled. Ponting went on to his first hundred of the summer and a few less questions about the pull.
A genuine headache
Ponting also copped a blow to the helmet when he misjudged a hook and it required some paracetemol to deal with "a pretty bad headache". There have been few times when Ponting has been hit in the head, and he thinks the last time was in the 2005 Ashes series when Steve Harmison struck him. "I was talking to Mohammad Yousuf out there today just after it happened and he said 'that's the first time I've ever seen you get hit'," Ponting said. "Mohammad Sami actually hit me on the cheek in Sharjah without a helmet on years ago, I actually ducked into one without a helmet on. I've been hit a few times but luckily no real bad ones."
On the crest of something new
Ponting has scored 39 Test centuries but today he did something new: kissed the crest of his helmet in celebration. "I haven't done it before," he said. "It's the first time today, because it meant a lot to me today, to battle away the way that I did and then get through and make a hundred in front of my home crowd. My parents and my sister and everyone is down here as well, watching the game, so they would've had some anxious and nervous moments early on through my innings today."
He's caught it!
It was only a thin edge from Michael Hussey's bat and a straightforward take, but given the events of Sydney, relief would have descended over all of Pakistan when Sarfraz Ahmed, the man who replaced Kamran Akmal, held on to his first Test catch behind the stumps.
Missing man of the moment
Aamer was Pakistan's stand-out bowler in Melbourne and though he wasn't missed so much in Sydney, he was eagerly welcomed back for this Test. Pakistan were on top in the first session and Aamer had just started getting his lines right. More pressure was expected to be applied straight after lunch, but Mohammad Yousuf chose to open with Danish Kaneria instead. Michael Clarke, a champion against spin, settled in easily and Aamer, Pakistan's rising star and their quickest bowler, wasn't seen at all between lunch and tea as Australia took the game away. He wasn't injured and the Pakistan camp, at one stage, mumbled something feeble about over-rates. It was most likely just another sign of the lack of intent that has cost them the series.
Ponting knows the score
The Australian players have had such trouble getting from the nineties to triple-figures this summer that Ponting's path to a century seemed somehow appropriate. On 94, he launched Danish Kaneria over long-off and the umpire Asoka de Silva signalled six. But Ponting, ever astute, wasn't convinced and instead of celebrating, stood there waiting for confirmation from the third umpire. His judgment was correct: the ball bounced inside the boundary and his 100 became 98. Three balls later, he swept and made the extra two.