SYDENY: Pakistan are on course for their first Test victory against Australia since 1995 after the hosts closed the third day of the second Test 80 ahead at 286-8 today.
Australia took the last Pakistan wicket for the loss of only two more runs. Beginning their second innings 206 runs behind, openers Shane Watson and Phil Hughes shared 105 but then eight fell for 152, Danish Kaneria claiming 4-117. Australia, who lead the three-match series 1-0, will be hugely reliant on Mike Hussey, who is unbeaten on 73.
The Australians were comfortably placed at 86-0 at lunch. Hughes departed to a superb one-handed return catch by Kaneria, bringing in skipper Ricky Ponting, who was faced with the prospect of a third successive golden duck at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He survived that but his disappointing match continued when he was out for 11, edging Umar Gul to Faisal Iqbal at second slip.
Watson, who finally ended his quest for a Test century in the previous match, was dropped by Kaneria at fine-leg when on 18, but he departed for the third time in the 90s when he gloved a lifting one from Gul to second slip. Hussey was dropped three times en route to his 20th Test fifty and the Australians will be hoping his luck continues and he can eclipse his highest score of 182.
The only concern for Pakistan is the fitness of Kaneria, who was helped off the field late in the day suffering from cramp. Kaneria had taken the wickets of Marcus North (two), Brad Haddin (15) and Mitchell Johnson (three) after tea, as Australia lost five wickets for 87 runs in the final session.
Pakistan have won only 11 of their 54 Tests against Australia, only four coming down under. They have never won an away series against the Australians and their last success in a three-match campaign against them came in 1994. The final Test begins in Hobart on January 13.