Asif and Aamer respond spiritedly with the ball for Pakistan

MELBOURNE: Australia led Pakistan by 307 runs after the third day of the first Test at the MCG.

A splendid all-round bowling performance helped Australia dismiss Pakistan for 258 and gain a 196-run first-innings lead.

Although Pakistan’s new-ball bowlers, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer, responded spiritedly, reducing the Australian second innings to 40 for three, Shane Watson’s seventh half-century in 12 innings as opener kept the home side in control.

Umar Akmal’s 51 and Misbah-ul-Haq’s unbeaten 65 were the highlights of Pakistan’s innings. 19-year-old Umar, during his brief stint on Sunday, showed he was the most proactive of the touring side’s batsmen. During the first hour of play on Monday he batted with uncommon skill and daring.

Having been struck on the helmet by Peter Siddle, Umar decided to attack the bowler. He dispatched a delivery of fuller length over mid-on, and when the length was shortened, he swatted Siddle to the long-on boundary.

Steady support

He then struck the bowler over the long-on rope. Aamer, the night-watchman, gave Umar steady support during the 50-run stand for the fifth wicket.

After Umar’s dismissal, Aamer helped Misbah put on 44, but Australia took four wickets for only 20 runs, leaving Pakistan on 220 for nine, with a further 35 needed to avoid the follow-on.

Clever batting

Misbah batted cleverly with Saeed Ajmal, shielding the number eleven after he had been subjected to a bouncer barrage by Siddle, to help Pakistan avert the follow-on. Mitchell Johnson bowled Ajmal to finish with three for 36. The persevering Doug Bollinger had figures of three for 50.

Asif and Aamer began well, the former displaying great accuracy, the latter bowling at high pace. Asif got Simon Katich to edge a catch to the diving Kamran Akmal before Aamer struck twice.

The 17-year-old left-armer had Ricky Ponting caught in the deep when the Australian captain failed to place his pull stroke as desired. Aamer then found Michael Hussey in front of his stumps with a sharp in-ducker.

Aamer then attacked Watson, stirring the Melbourne crowd. The Australian all-rounder, who had driven elegantly in the early stages of his innings, was forced to defend and jump out of the way of a series of short-pitched deliveries clocked around the 150 kmph mark. But Watson survived to steady Australia’s second innings.

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