Clumsy Pakistan wilt after Ponting double
Pakistan 4 for 94 (Farhat 38) trail Australia 8 for 519 dec (Ponting 209, Clarke 166) by 425 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Ricky Ponting's fifth Test double-century and Michael Clarke's highest Test score have left Pakistan facing a mountainous task to avoid defeat over the next three days in Hobart. Their already fragile confidence took another hit when Peter Siddle struck twice in one over and Salman Butt ran out two partners to leave them 425 runs adrift. With six wickets in hand, avoiding the follow-on looked as far away as the Australian mainland.
There is every chance that, given the opportunity, Ponting will enforce the follow-on for the second time this summer as there are showers forecast over the next three days and the fast men are on the verge of a two-month break from Tests. He'll also be buoyed by Pakistan's ongoing self-implosion, which continued with the two run-outs.
The captain Mohammad Yousuf went hard for a third, which was refused by an overly casual Butt, and turned back to be caught short for 7. Yousuf stood by the pitch glowering at Butt before walking off and Pakistan's frustrations continued when Butt and Umar Akmal took off for a single, Butt stopped far too late, and Umar was run-out after his about-face. It was all the more disappointing after Butt and Imran Farhat reached 63 without loss.
Farhat (38) drove away from his body off Siddle and was caught behind and four balls later Khurram Manzoor, the No. 3 brought in for this match, played an ill-advised cut that on the slower pitches in Pakistan might have worked, but here resulted in an ugly edge to second slip. The wickets were a timely boost for Siddle, who had only six in his previous four Tests this summer and has been by far the least potent member of the attack.
But there was no doubt that the second day belonged to Ponting and Clarke, as had the first. Their 352-run partnership, which lasted 437 minutes and 626 balls, was Australia's sixth-highest for any wicket in Test history. The stand ended when Clarke tried to pad up to the legspinner Danish Kaneria coming around the wicket but saw it take his off stump on 166.
Ponting's innings of 209 came to a close when he attacked in spite of Pakistan's defensive wide-outside-off line and skied a catch to cover off Mohammad Aamer. The captain Yousuf took the chance, showing Aamer how it should be done after he put Ponting down at deep square-leg before he had scored on the first day. It wasn't the most expensive miss in Test history - in 1938 Ben Barnett missed a stumping off Len Hutton on 40 and he went on to score 364 - but it was depressingly costly for Pakistan.
When Ponting finally departed, fans stood all around the ground to cheer off their local Tasmanian hero, who made his third-highest Test score and his first double-ton since January 2005, the first Test double-century by any player at Bellerive Oval, and the highest Test score by an Australian since Justin Langer's 215 in Adelaide against New Zealand five years ago. He picked up an even hundred runs in boundaries - 25 fours - in a near nine-hour stay at the crease.
Ponting was given another life today on 167 when he drove Kaneria and the ball flew through the hands of Farhat at cover. But by that stage Australia were going for their shots and in truth, Clarke and Ponting were rarely troubled by a defensive Pakistan group that seemed simply to be waiting for a declaration.
That didn't come until the stroke of tea, by which time Brad Haddin had added a quick 41, Marcus North had scratched out 21, and Australia had climbed to 8 for 519. Ponting called an early end to Australia's innings in Melbourne but here seemed intent on grinding Pakistan into the Bellerive turf, both with his own batting and his declaration. Australia have never lost a Test in Hobart and they won't start now.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo