LEEDS, England, (Reuters) – Pakistan turned the form book on its head with an inspired bowling performance to skittle Australia for just 88 on the first day of the second test yesterday.
The Australians, seeking their eighth test win a row, folded meekly after winning the toss and Pakistan reached 148 or three at the close to set up the prospect of a first victory over their opponents for 15 years.
Australia, who won the first test by 150 runs, crashed to their lowest total since 1984 when they made 76 against West Indies as Pakistan pace bowlers Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul exploited the favourable conditions.
“When you walk off and you have 88 next to 11 batsmen it’s not a good enough total,” Australia coach Tim Nielsen told reporters. “We never got a smell of getting a partnership going.
“Pakistan bowled beautifully, hit the wicket hard and didn’t just expect the conditions to do it for them. The ball certainly swung around — we were not good enough to stop the rot.”
Nielsen said the Australians had been unsure about whether to bat.
“We were surprised to see how dry the wicket was this morning,” he said.
“We thought it was going to be hard against the new ball but would then flatten out to be a nice batting wicket.”
Pakistan were satisfied with their performance under new captain Salman Butt.
“It was a good day for us, the ball was swinging and seaming and there would have been pressure for any (batting) team,” said Gul. “We will be happy if we can get a 200 lead or 150.”
The Pakistanis lost Butt for 45, Imran Farhat (43) and Azhar Ali (30) but Umar Amin and Umar Akmal extended their lead to 60 runs.
By then the dark clouds had been replaced by blue sky and sunshine as fans bared their chests and used T-shirts as makeshift sunhats.
For most of the day, there was only a smattering of spectators in the Headingley stadium despite enthusiastic marketing to a strong local Pakistani community.
The ball still swung as left-hander Butt was undone by a full-length Ben Hilfenhaus delivery that uprooted his leg stump, Farhat was lbw to Shane Watson and Ali was caught one-handed by wicketkeeper Tim Paine.
Earlier, left-armer Aamer claimed wickets with the first two balls after lunch to help finish off Australia’s innings.
Aamer, aged 18, bowled Steven Smith with a delivery that swung in sharply and left-hander Mitchell Johnson was bowled by an away swinger.
Australia regularly lost wickets in the morning as Asif dismissed Watson and Ponting and Gul removed Michael Clarke with a delivery that swung in and cut back.
“This team never knows when it’s beaten and that’s one of our great strengths,” Nielsen said.
“We need to make sure we have a good morning tomorrow. We can’t afford to have a session where it’s none for 100 and be 150 behind at lunch on the second day.”
Although the series is being played at neutral venues in England, it is a home one for Pakistan who cannot play in their homeland because of the precarious security situation.