Ball rules bat as Pakistan take control

LONDON, (Reuters) – Pakistan exploited heavy cloud  cover and humidity to the full yesterday to seize the advantage over Australia in an old-fashioned English test match in which  ball dominated the bat throughout.

Australia lost seven wickets for 58 runs after a  second-wicket partnership of 120 between Simon Katich (80) and  Michael Clarke (47) and at the close of the opening day of the first test they were struggling at 229 for nine.

They would have been in deep trouble if Katich had been given out lbw for two after the lively young left-armer Mohammad Aamer thundered a ball into his pads straight in front of the stumps.

Katich survived with umpire Ian Gould indicating the ball had brushed his bat. The batsman shared his opinion at the time but told reporters later a slow motion replay showed his bat had hit a pad, not the ball.

The decision review system under which teams can appeal to a third umpire with access to television replays is not being used in the two-test series because Pakistan have declined to pay the  costs.

Pakistan are deemed to be the hosts of the match. It is the first time England is staging a test between two foreign teams since the 1912 Triangular series because Pakistan must play all their series abroad due to the security situation at home.

Katich, 34, who has now scored a test half-century in each of his last nine tests starting with the fifth Ashes match at The Oval last year, said the ball had swung all day.

CONTRASTING STYLES

“It was a tough day all round,” he said. “It was humid and overcast and you know the ball is going to swing.”

Katich and Clarke, in contrasting styles, appeared to have swung the match Australia’s way with the score 171 for two at the final ball before the tea interval.

But Mohammad Asif, bowling with the pavilion behind him for the first time after taking the new ball from the Nursery End, took three wickets in seven balls to send the innings into terminal decline. Asif’s pronounced wrist action from an easy, relaxed  approach helped the ball move late both ways from a good length  and, apart from an erratic spell in the afternoon session when  he temporarily lost his direction, he was never mastered.

Pakistan vice-captain Salman Butt said Katich, with his  crablike shuffle across the stumps and minimalist backlift, and  the free-flowing Clarke showed it was possible to score runs in  different ways on a good pitch.

However, Pakistan have taken the field without their three  most accomplished middle-order batsmen of recent years. Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf have both retired while  Younus Khan was not selected and the Australian fast bowlers  will relish the chance to show they can create similar problems  for a batting line-up containing two debutants in Azhar Ali and  Umar Amin.

Ricky Ponting (26) overtook Brian Lara as the second highest  test run scorer behind Sachin Tendulkar before he was caught at  short-leg off Aamer.  The bowler brushed against the Australian captain as he rushed to celebrate with his team mates but both  teams played down the incident and an England and Wales Cricket  Board spokesman said no action would be taken.

SCOREBOARD

Australia innings
S. Watson b Mohammad Aamer                                                        4
S. Katich c Kamran Akmal b Mohammad Asif                          80
R. Ponting c Umar Amin b Aamer                                                 26
M. Clarke lbw b Asif                                                                             47
M. Hussey  not out                                                                               39
M. North  b Asif                                                                                       0
T. Paine  c Kamran Akmal b Umar Gul                                           7
S. Smith  lbw b Danish Kaneria                                                          1
M. Johnson  b Kaneria                                                                          3
B. Hilfenhaus  b Aamer                                                                         1
D. Bollinger  not out                                                                              0
Extras (b 10, lb 2, w 1, nb 8)                                                             21
Total  (9 wickets; 70 overs)                                                           229
Fall of wickets: 1-8 2-51 3-171 4-174 5-174 6-206 7-208  8-213 9-222
Bowling: Mohammad Aamer 18-2-66-3 (w-1), Mohammad Asif  17-5-53-3, Umar Gul 14-3-24-1 (nb-7),  Shahid Afridi 3-0-25-0,  Danish Kaneria 18-7-49-2 (nb-1)
Pakistan: Imran Farhat, Salman Butt, Azhar Ali, Umar Amin,  Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi (captain), Kamran Akmal, Mohammad  Aamer, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria, Mohammad Asif.

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