Third Test Match

Australia v Pakistan

Geoffrey Dean

At Sydney, January 2, 3, 4, 5, 2005. Australia won by nine wickets. Toss: Pakistan. Test debuts: S. R. Watson; Mohammad Asif.

Australia completed their third successive 3-0 whitewash of Pakistan, who had begun the match with their first century opening stand in this fixture for 22 years, before fading away yet again. From 193 for one they subsided to a below-par 304 all out on a slowish pitch, despite a fine maiden Test hundred from Salman Butt. After that they were always struggling to save the game. MacGill took a five-wicket haul in his first Test for nearly ten months, to take his record at Sydney to 40 wickets in six Tests, but no less decisive were outstanding innings by Ponting (who became only the third Australian, after Don Bradman and Greg Chappell, to score four Test double-hundreds) and Gilchrist, whose 13th century passed Andy Flower's Test record for a wicket-keeper.

Pakistan were given every encouragement at the start of their innings when Yasir Hameed was dropped off successive balls - by Warne at first slip, and Gilchrist - in Gillespie's opening over, and it was not until the 32nd that Warne finally broke through, inducing a top-edged sweep from Yasir. Younis Khan joined Salman to add 91 in just 20 overs before lofting a lax drive off MacGill to mid-off. It proved a turning-point. MacGill, spinning the ball generously on a pitch that started a little damp, produced a superb leg-break to have Yousuf Youhana taken at slip, and McGrath, strangely ignored in the afternoon session, unearthed a fine leg-cutter with the third ball of a new spell after tea to get rid of Salman, who had cut and pulled impressively. His dismissal kick-started a collapse in which Pakistan's last seven wickets fell for 63.

A pair of dreadful shots accounted for Asim Kamal and Shahid Afridi, who shovelled a full toss to deep mid-wicket; McGrath conjured up some reverse swing; and five wickets fell in five overs. Only a plucky 47 from Kamran Akmal took Pakistan past 300. Australia's first-innings lead was never in doubt once Ponting and Martyn added 174 in 45 overs for the third wicket. Heavily favouring the leg side, Ponting completed his first Test hundred for 13 months off 143 balls, and his eventual 207 contained 30 fours, the bulk of which were made up of on-drives, whips, clips and pulls. It was the third time in succession he had converted a century into a double, following his two against India late in 2003. When he eventually played on, he had batted for eight hours 11 minutes and faced 332 balls.

Then Gilchrist completely took the game away from Pakistan with a scintillating 109-ball hundred. After playing himself in carefully, he rushed to his fifty as Pakistan gave him too much width. Devastating throughout off the back foot, he went from 82 to 94 with successive pulled sixes off the debutant seamer, Mohammad Asif. He then drove Asif's next ball one bounce into the sightscreen and reached his hundred two overs later when he struck Afridi for a straight six. Danish Kaneria, who eventuallybeat him in the flight to earn a third stumping from the gifted young wicket-keeper Akmal, won praise from the Australians, notably Warne, for probing bowling throughout the series, and his seven-wicket haul was his third in Test cricket. With Shoaib able to bowl only fitfully after the second day, Kaneria delivered more than a third of Pakistan's overs. However, his use of obscene language after dismissing Clarke cost him his entire match fee.

Trailing by 264 on the first innings, Pakistan again made a hash of a promising beginning. All the top six got starts, but none apart from Kamal, who was last out for a doughty 87, went on to a major innings. Yasir and Afridi batted positively, but Australia whittled their way through the batting, and only a last-wicket stand of 55 in 16 overs stretched proceedings into the last hour of the fourth day. Australia's third seamer, Shane Watson, finally took a maiden wicket on debut when Younis played across a straight one.

Man of the Match: S. C. G. MacGill. Attendance: 105,692. Man of the Series: D. R. Martyn.

© John Wisden & Co