Australia in command after early collapse in 2nd innings

MELBOURNE: Australia are in commanding position gaining a lead of 307 runs over Pakistan after an early collapse in their second innings on the third day of the first Test match here at the MCG on Monday.

They were 111 for three when the third day’s play ended with opener Shane Watson (64) and Michael Clarke (21) at the crease.

When Australia started their second innings with a lead of 196 runs, Pakistan fast bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif struck early blows by dismissing three top order batsmen opener Simon Katich (2), captain Rickey Ponting (12) and Michael Hussey (4) for only 40 runs on the board.

Then, Clarke joined Watson to rescue and both gradually took out their team out of trouble. They have so far added 70 runs for their fourth wicket unbeaten partnership.

Earlier, Pakistan resumed at 109-4 this morning and were all out for 258 in reply to Australia’s 454 for five declared in the first innings.

The tourists lost five wickets in the afternoon session after going into lunch at 190 for five, and were in danger of not passing the follow-on mark when the lower order slumped to 220 for nine.

However, they succeeded in avoiding the follow-on, thanks to Misbah-ul-Haq’s fighting unbeaten innings of 65.

Teenage batting sensation Umar Akmal (51) looked like the only person who could breathe life into the day, smashing 19 runs from one Peter Siddle over.

He brought up his half century when Johnson replaced Siddle, but then lost his head and his wicket slashing a wide ball straight to Ricky Ponting at slip.

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