Pakistan On The Brink Of Ending 15-Year Wait
Australia 88 & 349 (Clarke 77, Smith 77, Ponting 66) v
Pakistan 258 (Watson 6-33) & 140-3 (Imran Farhat 67)
Second Test, day three, Headingley
Pakistan will begin the fourth day of the second and final Test against Australia at Headingley requiring just 40 runs, with seven second-innings wickets in hand, to claim a series-levelling win.
They have not beaten Australia in a Test since 1995 - a run that has seen 13 straight defeats - and were looking well set for victory after being set 180 to win after another intriguing day's play.
Fine half-centuries from Michael Clarke and Steve Smith, who both made 77, enabled Australia to push their second-innings score up to 349 before Imran Farhat's 67 and an unbeaten 47 from Azhar Ali put Pakistan on the brink.
At the start of the day, Pakistan needed early breakthroughs to stay on top of the game and they got them when Mohammad Amir had Ricky Ponting caught by Kamran Akmal as he drove at a wide ball for 66, Michael Hussey well caught at slip by Umar Akmal and Marcus North bowled via an inside edge without scoring.
Clarke's classy 147-ball innings was ended when he edged Mohammad Asif to Kamran Akmal but there was more drama to come as Australia's lower order kept the runs flowing.
Tim Paine made a doughty 33 before managing to slap the ball to Azhar Ali at cover off the bowling of leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and after Mitchell Johnson (12) was trapped in front by Amir, Smith expanded his game to hammer nine fours and two sixes in a fine maiden Test half-century.
Ben Hilfenhaus blasted four fours before edging Kaneria to Umar Akmal for 17 and although number ten Doug Bollinger failed to score, he hung around long enough for Smith to add another 29 runs before Umar Gul got one through Smith's defences to bowl him.
Amir returned four for 86, Asif two for 83 and Kaneria two for 74.
Pakistan then tore out of the blocks, perhaps mindful of avoiding a repeat of the Sydney Test earlier this year, when they fell short having been set 176 to win.
Salman Butt made 13 before he edged Hilfenhaus to Clarke at slip but Australia were made to pay after Watson dropped Farhat off Bollinger early on.
The left-hander went on to hit nine fours in a controlled 95-ball innings before he was bowled by Bollinger, who then struck in his next over to have Umar Amin caught behind for nought.
Farhat and Azhar had put on 110 for the second wicket to almost put the game beyond Australia but the two late wickets left the match slightly in the balance and with Australia sensing a way back into the game, it was no real surprise when Pakistan opted not to take the extra half hour and instead opted to come back for a fourth day.
Azhar faced 103 balls for his 47 while unbeaten and yet to score alongside him was Umar Akmal.
Australia lead the series 1-0 following a 150-run win at Lord's.
© Cricket World 2010