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Ponting leads Australian revival

CRICKET / Completes 12,000 Test runs; Watson scalps six

LEEDS (England): Ricky Ponting led Australia's recovery in the second and final cricket Test against Pakistan at Headingley here on Thursday.

Australia was 136 for two in its second innings, just 34 behind, when bad light forced an early close on the second day. Ponting, the Australia captain, was 61 not out — the first fifty of the match on either side — and Michael Clarke 32 not out following a wicketk-less final session.

Their stand was worth 81 — almost as many as Australia made when dismissed for just 88 in a dramatic first innings collapse.

Australia had been 170 behind on first innings after Pakistan made 258.

All-rounder Shane Watson took six wickets for 33 runs in 11 overs — the second time in as many matches he'd taken Test-best figures — as Pakistan failed to bat Australia out of the game.

Australia has won its last 13 Tests against Pakistan and in January triumphed by 36 runs at Sydney despite a first innings deficit of 206.

Ponting's innings saw him get the 40 runs he needed to join India great Sachin Tendulkar as the only other batsman to have scored 12,000 Test runs. An edged four to third man off left-arm quick Mohammad Aamer took Ponting to the milestone on a ground where he made his first Test hundred back in 1997.

Mohammad Asif's figures of none for 42 off 13 overs were harsh on the seamer, who saw a number of close calls against both Ponting and Clarke go in the batsmen's favour.

And when he did err, Ponting pounced to force Asif through cover point and pull him for well-struck fours in nearly three hours at the crease.

Australia was 62 for two, still 108 behind, at tea.

Ponting had survived several leg-before appeals while padding up to be 18 not out and Clarke was unbeaten on two. Watson helped Ponting add 40 for the second wicket.

But the opener, on 24, fell to occasional medium-pacer Umar Amin when he played on trying to cut and Australia was 55 for two.

Australia's second innings, like its first, began under grey skies.

And when opener Simon Katich was bowled round his legs, after shuffling across the crease in trademark fashion, by Aamer, Australia was 15 for one and in danger of a fresh collapse.

Aamer might have had Ponting leg before for nought when the star batsman played no stroke to an inswinger.Earlier, Watson, who took two wickets on Wednesday, produced a post-lunch burst of four wickets for seven runs in 13 balls as Pakistan was dismissed for 258. Medium-pacer Watson, who curiously had to wait 15 overs to bowl on Thursday, produced a post-lunch burst of four wickets for seven runs in 13 balls.

The all-rounder's return saw Watson surpass his previous best of five for 40 achieved in Australia's 150-run series-opening win at Lord's last week.Pakistan, 218 for five at lunch, was 222 for seven in the space of two Watson balls. Kamran Akmal (15) was well caught low down at first slip by Marcus North and next ball Aamer was leg before, playing no stroke.

Danish Kaneria and Asif added 24 at a run-a-ball for the last wicket before a comical mix-up saw Kaneria run out after Pakistan had started a rain delayed second day on 148 for three. — AFP

Australia —1st innings: 88

Pakistan — 1st innings: I. Farhat lbw b Watson 43, S. Butt b Hilfenhaus 45, Azhar Ali c Paine b Watson 30, U. Amin c North b Hilfenhaus 25, U. Akmal c Paine b Johnson 21, S. Malik c Paine b Watson 26, K. Akmal c North b Watson 15, M. Aamer lbw b Watson 0, U. Gul b Watson 0, D. Kaneria (run out) 15, M. Asif (not out) 9, Extras: (b-11, lb-9, nb-9) 29, Total: (in 64.5 overs) 258.

Fall of wickets: 1-80, 2-133, 3-140, 4-171, 5-195, 6-222, 7-222, 8-224, 9-234.

Australia bowling: Bollinger 17-4-50-0, Hilfenhaus 20.5-3-77-2, Watson 11-3-33-6, Johnson 15-0-71-1, Smith 1-0-7-0.

Australia 2nd innings: S. Watson b Amin 24, S. Katich b Aamer 11, R. Ponting (batting) 61, M. Clarke (batting) 32, Extras (b-4, w-2, nb-2): 8; Total (for two wkts. in 41 overs): 136.

Pakistan bowling: Aamer 9-2-19-1, Asif 13-1-42-0, Gul 5-0-36-0, Amin 6-1-12-1, Kaneria 8-0-23-0 .

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