Hobart, Nov 18: Pakistan's batting was made to look a joyless, labouring task on the opening day of the second Test By having bowled Pakistan out for 222. Australia captain Steve Waugh's decision to put the opposition in was totally vindicated.
It's been a woeful tale of Pakistan's batting (Mohammad Wasim's innings excepted) here on Bellerive's pitch which, despite being traditionally batsman friendly, had retained some moisture and showed plenty of life earlier in Pakistan's innings.
It was a good toss to win as both captains would liked to have bowled first. Australia had the luck of winning the toss, for the second time in two Tests and today it certainly gave them the advantage. But having said that, the fall of Pakistan's early wickets, before lunch, with the exception of Saeed Anwar's were less to the credit of the bowling than to the batsman's errors.
Anwar received a brute of a ball from Glenn McGrath' It lifted from not short of a length and took the shoulder of the bat. But Ijaz Ahmed, having got themselves into form with a century earlier in the week against South Australia, after a poor first Test, made a half hearted attempt to cut a ball from McGrath which was far too close to him to attempt the shot and Pakistan were 2 for 18 , a similar situation as in Brisbane.
McGrath was by far the pick of the bowlers during the first session of play and his spell of nine overs he had conceded merely six runs and picked up two wickets. In the process he had also passed a personal milestone of 250 Test wickets. Only four other Australians have taken more Test wickets than him.
Hopes of a revival came with Wasim's quick scoring stand with Inzamamul Haq. Their 50 partnership spanned over just 48 minutes during which Wasim played beautifully.
He went after Shane Warne who was promptly taken off, conceding as many as 26 runs in four overs. Half of those runs came from one over with Wasim helping himself effortlessly to three boundaries. But just when the partnership was developing, Inzamam chased one well outside off stump and dragged the ball on to his stumps. An utterly unnecessary shot, when consolidation of the innings was of prime importance. Pakistan had given away another wicket when the requirement was for disciplined batting.
There were only two partnerships of any consequence in the Pakistan innings, both featuring Mohammad Wasim. After Inzamam, Yousuf Youhana helped him to put on 49 for the fourth wicket stand during which Wasim scored freely, flicking delicately behind square and stepping out to drive to long-on and long-off.
It was difficult to drive on this slow wicket and that is where Wasim did so well.Youhana too played attractive strokes. He has been in such excellent form on this tour. But just as he seemed to be set for another fine innings.
Mark Waugh, with the safest pair of hands in the Australian side, snapped him up low at slip. Meanwhile Wasim, on 49 was dropped overhead at mid-on by McGrath, which gave him a single as well as taking him to his half century.
The loss of Youhana's wicket checked Pakistan's relative recovery. Australia's captain Steve Waugh, speaking at the end of the day's play, said that "that was the turning point in the Pakistan innings".
He went on to say. "It is not easy to score runs on this sort of wicket. We will have to work hard on it in our innings. If we get a good first innings lead we can win this Test".
Before Pakistan's innings folded a bit of rear-guard action came from Wasim Akram and Azhar Mahmood. The latter batted for an hour and a half and the captain a little longer to prolong the innings and add valuable runs but unless Pakistan's bowlers can deliver what they are capable of on a good day, the total looks most inadequate.
Australia's opening batsmen began their innings tentatively, surviving a spate of close calls for leg before wicket. If Pakistan's formidable bowlers are to live up to their reputation then, in view of the importance of this Test match, they will have to display their true capabilities tomorrow