Pakistan take charge as Australia crumble for 88
Pakistan 148 for 3 (Amim 1*, Umar Akmal 8*) lead Australia 88 (Aamer 3-20, Asif 3-30) by 60 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Headingley produced another of the extraordinary days that has littered its history as Australia were blown away for a paltry 88 before Pakistan built a lead of 60 with seven wickets in hand. Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer, who was on a hat-trick straight after lunch, were again outstanding with devastating late movement, and were well supported by Umar Gul, after Ricky Ponting decided to bat first. In reply Pakistan moved to 148 for 3 when bad light ended play.
Four days after having to install a new captain following Shahid Afridi's shock Test retirement, the new man handed the debatable honour, Salman Butt, probably made his best move of the day by losing the toss. Ponting took a brave call after torrential overnight rain, and with heavy morning cloud cover, putting faith in his top order to weather the challenge. But the gamble backfired in startling fashion as Australia crumbled to their seventh lowest first-innings total of all time.
Headingley is another venue where, like Lord's, overhead conditions are as important as the surface and Pakistan's frontline pace trio were often unplayable as they made the ball move late off the seam. In scenes reminiscent of the days of Wasim and Waqar, the bowlers didn't need much help from the fielders with seven wickets either bowled or lbw as Australia failed to combat Pakistan's full length.
Conditions remained favourable for bowling throughout, but Australia looked shell-shocked when they took the ball barely halfway through the second session and Pakistan's openers virtually wiped off the measly total with a stand of 80. Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Johnson were erratic, but Hilfenhaus - who dropped Butt on 42 - eventually made the breakthrough when he swung one between his bat and pad three runs later.
Shane Watson returned to make two late incisions with Imran Farhat (43) beaten by late swing and Azhar Ali (30) sending a thick edge to Tim Paine as the light started to fade, but Umar Akmal gave a indication of Pakistan's mindset in the final over of the day by slogging Steven Smith's legspin over long-off for six. The lead has already grown and Australia will need some Sydney-style inspiration to turn this game around.
The initial six overs of Australia's innings were a false dawn and the opening stand of 20 would remain the best partnership of the innings. Simon Katich departed when his strength became a weakness as he shuffled across the crease against Aamer and Watson followed in the next over when he was plumb in front to Asif. Ponting and Michael Clarke were often playing at fresh air as they tried to rebuild with both batsmen regularly squared up by late movement.
Aamer was rested after a five-over opening burst but his replacement, Gul, maintained the pressure and he quickly located a full length. He ended Clarke's struggle when the vice-captain played all round a straight delivery after beginning the over with two flat-footed wafts.
Asif was given an extended spell and the move paid huge dividends when he nailed Ponting lbw for the second time in a row. He found late movement into Ponting, who lunged onto the front foot, and the ball was heading for middle and leg as Pakistan's bowlers continued to leave the fielders redundant.
Mike Hussey has rescued Australia from many a hole - often against Pakistan - but this time he was powerless to arrest the slide as Gul brought one back into his front pad, although subsequent replays showed Rudi Koertzen, standing in his final Test, had erred on this occasion and leg stump would have been missed. Even at 41 for 5, Australia would have expected someone in the lower order to haul them beyond three figures, as happened in Sydney earlier this earlier, but this time Pakistan refused to release the pressure.
A fielder finally became involved when Kamran Akmal gloved an excellent catch to remove Marcus North as Umar Amin's introduction proved a masterstroke from Butt. Amin had only six first-class wickets to his name, but his gentle medium-pace found North's outside edge and the dismissal summed up the early fortunes of both teams.
Australia's hopes of reaching anything like a respectable total were ended with the first two balls of the afternoon session when Aamer produced his latest impression of Wasim Akram with a brace of cracking deliveries. The first, to Smith, snaked back between bat and pad but the next was even better as Johnson lost his off stump to one that curved away past his outside edge.
To compound Australia's woes Hilfenhaus was run out from third man by Amin before Paine's wild thrash at Asif ended the innings. Paine's top score of 17 was the joint fourth-lowest highest individual effort in a completed Australian innings and the lowest since the 19th century. That statistic alone sums up the remarkable nature of the demise.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo