Watson rides his luck to snatch first century

Australia 454-5d & 255-8d Pakistan 258 & 170-3
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The Independent Online

A day of personal landmarks in Melbourne in a Test match that has seesawed in a manner Pakistan seem to specialise in. For Shane Watson the relief of a first Test century, after over an hour in the nineties, and for Mohammad Aamer and Mitchell Johnson a place in the record books. Johnson's may only be a footnote – the fifth man to score 500 runs and take 50 wickets in a calendar year – but Aamer is worth a second glance. The 17-year-old became the youngest fast bowler in the history of the game to take five wickets in a Test innings. Aamer, a pacy left-armer, is a protégé of Wasim Akram and it was to his mentor that he was compared after his return of 5 for 79 in Australia's second innings. "It's amazing that he's only 17," Watson said.

Watson has proved a success since his reinvention as an opener, although he had failed to convert six half-centuries to three figures, twice falling in the nineties. He should have gone on 99 yesterday, but Abdur Rauf spilt a simple catch at backward point. "It has been a long time coming, it's a massive relief," Watson said afterwards. "It was also nice to see the ball drop out of Mr Rauf's hands."

Watson was unbeaten on 120 when Australia declared to set Pakistan 422 to win the opening Test of the series. At the close of the fourth day, the tourists required another 252 with seven wickets in hand.