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Page last updated at 07:26 GMT, Saturday, 26 December 2009

Openers put Australia in command against Pakistan

First Test, Melbourne, day one:
Australia 305-3 v Pakistan
Match scorecard

Shane Watson and Simon Katich
Watson (left) was closing on his century when he was run out

Australia's openers both narrowly missed out on centuries but gave their side a strong start in the first Test against Pakistan in Melbourne.

Shane Watson and Simon Katich took Australia to 117-0 at tea in the Boxing Day Test, before Watson was run out on 93 in bizarre circumstances.

Katich then went for 98, caught at backward point by Salman Butt off the bowling of Mohammad Asif.

Australia ended the day in excellent shape on 305-3 at the MCG.

Ricky Ponting made 57 before he was caught by Misbah-ul-Haq. The Australian captain had been a doubt before the match with an elbow injury but hit seven boundaries in 60 balls before nicking an outside edge to second slip.

Michael Hussey (38) and night-watchman Nathan Hauritz (5) were the men still standing at stumps.

It took me a little while to calm down but you see the big picture, I'd definitely take 93 at the start of the day in my first Boxing Day Test

Shane Watson

Australia will no doubt be disappointed to have lost two batsmen so close to centuries, but their regret is likely to be nothing compared to that felt by the visitors.

The Australians' score suggests bat dominated all day, but Pakistan missed several chances to make early inroads.

Katich was almost run out while on three and then survived shortly afterwards when Umar Akmal dropped an easy chance at gully.

And Watson enjoyed his own slice of good fortune when Misbah dropped him off spinner Saeed Ajmal when on 43.

After that, it was a hard slog on a flat wicket for the bowlers, until Watson and Katich contrived to gift Pakistan an opening.

Having fallen just short of a maiden Test century in his last two Tests, Watson responded to Katich setting off on a run, but failed to notice his partner change his mind and both batsmen ended up at the striker's end; Watson out having grounded his foot fractionally after his partner.

Watson's dismissal continued a run that had seen Australia fail to convert 17 half centuries during the summer. Incredibly, Katich soon upped that total to 18.

The left-hander had looked comfortable against an inexperienced attack until nearing the mark. Having seen a leading edge drop just wide of the slips, he cut a Mohammad Asif (2-69) delivery straight to Salman Butt at backward point.


Australia's openers had already posted scores of 92, 96, 80, 89 and 99 in the Tests against West Indies before Christmas - and despite agonisingly missing so many centuries Watson and Katich are developing as an extremely consistent pairing.

Ponting looked to counter-attack in the final period of play, reaching his half-century at almost a run a ball, but a loose drive at a ball pitched up by Asif was taken by Misbah.

Hauritz then came in to protect the remaining batsmen, though Hussey continued to attack, closing on 38 from just 43 deliveries.

Asked about his run-out, Watson said: "It's just one of those things, there wasn't too much communication that went on there unfortunately.

"I definitely knew it must have been me that was out because we both ended up the same spot and he came from that end. It wasn't destined to be today.

"It took me a little while to calm down but you see the big picture, I'd definitely take 93 at the start of the day in my first Boxing Day Test."

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see also
Ponting wants improved behaviour
21 Dec 09 |  Australia
Australia wrap up series victory
20 Dec 09 |  Cricket
Benn suspended after altercation
18 Dec 09 |  West Indies
Rain thwarts Kiwis as series tied
15 Dec 09 |  Cricket
Pakistan in Australia 2009-10
05 Feb 10 |  Cricket

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