Monday 11 December 2017

Cricket: Ponting delight as Aussies bowl Pakistan over with historic fightback

Australia pulled off a stunning second Test victory over Pakistan at the SCG, bowling the tourists out for 139 to win by 36 runs and clinch the series.

Chasing a modest 176 to secure their first win over Australia in 14 years, the tourists collapsed badly under intense pressure from the ever-improving Australia attack. Spinner Nathan Hauritz took five for 53, with Mitchell Johnson claiming three for 27.

Doug Bollinger chipped in with two wickets while Peter Siddle bowled his heart out without reward after his earlier heroics with the bat had helped bring Australia back from the dead.

The hosts trailed by 206 runs on the first innings but revived their hopes with 381 second-innings runs, largely thanks to 97 from Shane Watson and an unlikely 123-run ninth-wicket partnership between Mike Hussey (134 not out) and Siddle (38).

Only twice in 132 years has Australia come back from a bigger deficit to snatch victory. The hosts take an unassailable 2-0 lead into the third and final Test in Hobart, which begins on January 14.

Pakistan's run chase started badly, the visitors losing Imran Farhat (22), Faisal Iqbal (seven) and Salman Butt (21) to fall to 51 for three before reaching tea at 77 for three. Hauritz then turned the screw, somehow holding onto a thundering return drive from Mohammad Yousuf to dismiss the Pakistan captain for 19.

In taking the catch, Hauritz injured his left thumb as it was crushed hard against his chest. With the thumb strapped, he continued and had Misbah-ul-Haq out two balls later for a duck.

Johnson followed up with the wicket of Kamran Akmal, caught behind for 11, as Pakistan slumped to 103 for six. Hauritz then removed Mohammad Sami for two. His departure left the tourists in tatters at 133 for seven and it was all but over when Bollinger induced Umar Akmal (49) into an injudicious swipe, the top edge reeled in by Johnson running back at mid-off.

Danish Kaneria was out for a duck with the score on 135, smashing Hauritz down Watson's throat at deep mid-wicket. Fittingly, Hauritz took the last wicket to fall, Umar Gul (six) presenting Siddle with a simple catch at mid-off.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting rated the victory as among the most satisfying of his career.

"I don't think anyone else in the world other than probably all the blokes inside our room thought we could win," Ponting said.

"The other (SCG Tests) we've probably been in positions where we probably should have won the games. So this one, turning up today 80 runs ahead, I think all of us in our change-room felt that if we could get 150 we were going to be right in the game.

"What Huss and Sids (Michael Hussey and Peter Siddle) did today and what the bowlers did and, probably more importantly, what the fielders did... those little things like that can be the difference between winning and losing the game."

Irish Independent

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