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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Steely Ponting leads Australia fightback

Steely Ponting leads Australia fightback

Last updated on: July 22, 2010 23:51 IST

- Scorecard

Shane WatsonCaptain Ricky Ponting led a gritty Australian fightback on the second day of the second Test against Pakistan on Thursday.

Ponting steered his team to 136 for two at the close, just 34 runs behind Pakistan who bowled out the Australians for 88 on the first day at Headingley.

Ponting, who scored his first Test century on the same ground, made an unbeaten 61 and shared a stand of 81 with Michael Clarke (32 not out) after swing bowler Shane Watson had checked Pakistan's progress with test-best figures of six for 33.

Australia did not lose a wicket in a final session, curtailed by bad light, to revive hopes of registering an eighth straight Test victory and Ponting became the second man to reach 12,000 Test runs with a boundary to third man off Mohammad Aamer.

He acknowledged warm applause from a sparse crowd which had gradually increased throughout the day by raising his arm in the air and then his bat to all parts of the stadium.

The appreciative reception was a far cry from boos he received in last year's Ashes series when he was treated like a pantomime villain.

Pakistan were still in with a chance of a first Test victory over Australia for 15 years but Ponting's side will not have forgotten how they won in Sydney in January after conceding a first-innings deficit of 206 runs to the Pakistanis.

Pakistan resumed on 148 for three after the start was delayed by 45 minutes because of rain.

FREAK WICKET

They lost their fourth wicket freakishly when Umar Amin ducked under a bouncer from Ben Hilfenhaus only for the ball to strike the back of his bat and fly to Marcus North at square leg.

The main damage was caused after lunch when Watson took four wickets for seven runs in 13 balls, buoyed by the overcast conditions that assisted his out-swing.

Just as Australia sniffed the chance of a comeback, the spectators were stirred by an entertaining last-wicket partnership of 24 between Danish Kaneria (15) and Asif (nine not out).

Asif's on-drive for four off Watson and Kaneria's pull to the boundary off Mitchell Johnson caused much cheer before Kaneria was run out in chaotic circumstances.

Asif's chip fell short of mid-off and Kaneria fell over as he scrambled back to the crease.

As the umpire called for a third umpire decision, the batsmen ran again and Kaneria staggered into his crease before being given out for the first incident.

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