LONDON, (Reuters) – Pakistan face a 13th consecutive defeat against Australia in the first test at Lord’s after they were set a world record 440 to win on the third day yesterday.
At the close of a day in which the sun shone consistently for the first time in the match, Pakistan were 114 for one in their second innings with vice-captain Salman Butt on 58.
An Australian victory during the remaining two days would break the record they share with Sri Lanka, who have defeated Bangladesh 12 times in a row.
Pakistan needed quick wickets to have any chance of a win when play resumed with Australia 100 for four in their second innings, an overall lead of 205.
Instead nightwatchman Mitchell Johnson stroked a handsome 30 and Ben Hilfenhaus recorded his highest first class score of 56 not out. Last man Doug Bollinger, whose previous best test score was nine, made 21 in a lively 10th-wicket partnership of 52 with Hilfenhaus.
Debutant wicketkeeper Tim Paine, playing in place of the injured Brad Haddin, weighed in with an enterprising 47 after another feat of monumental concentration from opener Simon Katich.
Katich followed his first innings 80, scored when the Pakistan pace attack were at their most threatening with overcast conditions and moisture in the air, with 83 in exactly four hours.
He played scarcely a memorable shot, apart from a late dab through the slips which may have been premeditated, but his concentration, patience and application have held the Australian batting together and he has now scored half-centuries in each of his last nine tests.
Two wickets in three balls immediately after lunch briefly raised Pakistan’s hopes but as the sun began to shine and the ball stopped swinging they were unable to stem the flow of runs.
Hilfenhaus, with a previous highest first class score of 50, even slashed Mohammad Asif over point for six, and Bollinger was similarly untroubled.
Butt, the only Pakistan batsman to come to terms with conditions in the first innings with a well-crafted 63, relished the sun and an increasingly benign pitch when Pakistan began their second innings. He drove deftly and ran swiftly to reach his 10th test half-century with nine fours.
Leg-spinner Steven Smith was finally thrown the ball in his debut test and was gifted his first wicket when Imran Farhat (24) pulled a long hop straight to Shane Watson at mid-wicket.
Smith may have an important part to play on Friday as it was clear how much easier batting became when the sun came out with only seven wickets falling compared to 15 on the previous day.
“I think he looked really good, I think he started very well,” Paine told a news conference. “When he went around the wicket he started to spin a few quite a long way so I think he will definitely play a role at some stage tomorrow.
“It’s probably a decent batting wicket now. If the sun’s out and the ball’s not swinging it’s definitely a lot easier but I think we will create enough chances to definitely be in the game and give ourselves a good chance of winning.”
A Pakistan victory would rank among the biggest upsets in test history although debutant Umar Amin, the next batsman in the order, said his team had been immensely heartened by the performances of Butt and the team’s other newcomer Azhar Ali (28 not out).
“If they carry on tomorrow, we have a very good chance of winning the game. It always happens in England whenever the sun is out then the conditions become very easy, whenever it is overcast it does offer a bit to the bowlers,” he said.
Australia first innings 253
(S.Katich 80, M.Hussey 56 not out)
Pakistan first innings 148
(S.Butt 63; S.Watson 5-40)
Australia second innings (100-4 overnight)
S. Watson c Imran Farhat b Mohammad Asif 31
S. Katich c Kamran Akmal b Umar Gul 83
R. Ponting lbw b Mohammad Asif 0
M. Clarke b Umar Gul 12
M. Hussey c Imran Farhat b Umar Gul 0
M. Johnson b Umar Gul 30
M. North c Kamran Akmal b Mohammad Asif 20
T. Paine b Shahid Afridi 47
S. Smith lbw b Danish Kaneria 12
B. Hilfenhaus not out 56
D. Bollinger b Danish Kaneria 21
Extras (b-6, lb-5, w-2, nb-9) 22
Total (all out; 91 overs) 334
Fall of wickets: 1-61 2-73 3-97 4-97 5-149 6-188 7-188 8-208 9-282 10-334.
Bowling: Mohammad Aamer 18-3-67-0, Mohammad Asif 21-3-77-3 (2nb), Umar Gul 21-5-61-4 (3nb, 2w), Danish Kaneria 17-2-74-2 (3nb), Shahid Afridi 14-0-44-1 (1nb).
Pakistan second innings
Imran Farhat c Watson b Smith 24
Salman Butt not out 58
Azhar Ali not out 28
Extras (b-2 nb-2) 4
Total (for one wickets; 37 overs) 114
To bat: Umar Amin, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Aamer, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria, Mohammad Asif.
Fall of wickets: 1-50.
Bowling: Bollinger 8-4-27-0, Hilfenhaus 10-5-22-0 (2nb), Johnson, 6-0-29-0, Smith 13-2-34-1.
(Editing by Neil Maidment; to query or comment on this story email email@example.com)