Watson keeps Aussies on track for whitewash

Australia 519-8d & 219-5d Pakistan 301 & 103-4
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Shane Watson expects Australia to wrap up another series whitewash with victory over Pakistan in the third Test in Hobart, as long as the rain stays away. The all-rounder, who has been Australia's leading run-scorer during the six Tests against West Indies and Pakistan, may have missed out with the bat in this game but is rapidly making up for it with the ball.

He captured the key wickets of Pakistan's two best batsmen, captain Mohammad Yousuf and the highly-promising Umar Akmal, late on day four as he got the ball to reverse swing in the overcast conditions.

Watson's twin breakthroughs left Pakistan on 103 for 4 at stumps – in pursuit of an unlikely victory target of 438 – and needing more rain in order to save the game after showers wiped out the last hour of play .

The 28-year-old is confident that, if the rain relents, the hosts can secure a fifth victory from six Tests and a record-equalling 12th successive Test triumph over Pakistan.

That would equal the record for most successive wins by any Test team against another in the history of the game – the record is currently held by Sri Lanka against Bangladesh – as well as ensuring Australia a fourth successive 3-0 series whitewash against Pakistan.

"The ball is in top condition and, as long as the rain stays away, I'm sure that if we get a couple of breakthroughs early on it will be difficult for their tailenders to survive," he said.

The Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam wants his team to save the match on their own merits even though they will have to survive some 106 overs, with the play lost on day four able to be made up on the final day.

"We are not hoping for the rain – we don't play cricket like that," Intikhab said. "We have to make an effort to make sure that things that might have happened in the past are gone; we have to try to save this match."

But he conceded that his team face a huge task: "It is difficult now, since we have lost four wickets. I thought that the conditions were a little different today and it did seem to help their fast bowlers more."