Cricket: Langer back in the old routine

Pakistan 155 Australia 171-4
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The Independent Online
JUSTIN LANGER and Ricky Ponting scored half-centuries to leave Australia in the driving seat at the end of an absorbing first day in the third and final Test against Pakistan at the WACA yesterday.

Displaying the same fighting qualities that enabled Australia to post a remarkable victory in the second Test in Hobart, the pair shared an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 117 to steer their side to 171 for 4 after Pakistan had been dismissed for 155.

Langer, whose second-innings century earned him the man-of-the-match award in Hobart as Australia successfully chased 369 for victory, continued where he left off. He reached 63 by stumps while Ponting, coming off three successive ducks, rediscovered his touch to score 62.

Australia, who hold an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, had looked to be in control after ripping through Pakistan's batsman in less than four hours. But the tourists struck back in the final session: the Pakistan captain, Wasim Akram, trapped Michael Slater leg before with the second ball of the innings to join Ian Botham on 383 wickets as the joint-fourth most successful Test bowler of all time.

Mohammad Akram followed his captain's lead by taking three quick wickets - Greg Blewett for 11, Mark Waugh for a duck and the Australian captain, Steve Waugh, for five as the home side slumped to 54 for 4.

Langer and Ponting then came to Australia's rescue. Langer reached his third successive 50 by pulling Wasim through mid-wicket for four. Ponting brought up his first 50 of the series when he cut Mohammad for four in his next over.

Their stand was easily the highest on a day when the ball reigned supreme over the bat, although they were helped by some indisciplined bowling. The Pakistan bowlers gave away 18 no-balls in their 38 overs, Shoaib Akhtar beginning with four no-balls.

First day of five; Pakistan won toss

PAKISTAN - First Innings

Saeed Anwar c Ponting b McGrath 18

Wajahatullah Wasti c Ponting b McGrath 5

Ijaz Ahmed b Fleming 1

Inzamam-ul-Haq c S Waugh b Kasprowicz 22

Yousuf Youhana c Gilchrist b McGrath 18

Azhar Mahmood c Warne b Fleming 39

Moin Khan c & b Fleming 28

*Wasim Akram not out 5

Saqlain Mushtaq c Blewett b Kasprowicz 7

Shoaib Akhtar b Kasprowicz 0

Mohammad Akram c M Waugh b Kasprowicz 0

Extras (4lb 8nb) 12

Total (52 overs) 155

Fall: 1-18, 2-26, 3-26, 4-51, 5-85, 6-135, 7-142, 8-155, 9-155.

Bowling: McGrath 19-3-44-3; Fleming 19-7-48-3; Kasprowicz 12-2-53-4; Warne 2-0-6-0.

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

M J Slater lbw b Wasim 0

G S Blewett c Inzamam b Mohammad 11

J L Langer not out 63

M E Waugh c Sub b Mohammad 0

*S R Waugh c Yousuf b Mohammad 5

R T Ponting not out 62

Extras (8b 4lb 18nb) 30

Total (for 4, 38 overs) 171

Fall: 1-0, 2-28, 3-48, 4-54.

To bat: A C Gilchrist, S K Warne, D W Fleming, M S Kasprowicz, G D McGrath.

Bowling: Wasim Akram 7-0-24-1; Mohammad Akram 11-0-66-3; Shoaib Akhtar 5-1-26-0; Azhar Mahmood 7-1-23-0; Saqlain Mushtaq 8-3-20-0.

Umpires: D B Hair and P Willey (Eng).