| Ricky Ponting fails to duck under a Mohammed Sami bouncer on the first day of the third Test in Sharjah Saturday. Ponting was slightly injured but went on to make an unbeaten 142. (Reuters)
Sharjah, Oct. 19 (AFP): Ricky Ponting hit an unbeaten 142 and Matthew Hayden scored 89 to lift Australia to an imposing total in the third Test against Pakistan on Saturday.
Australia, looking for a 3-0 series sweep, overcame the fifth ball dismissal of Justin Langer to pile up 298 for three by close on Day I at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Captain Steve Waugh, on 33, was the other batsman at the crease, having added 65 runs for the fourth wicket so far with Ponting.
But there was no joy for beleaguered twin Mark Waugh, who hit five imperious boundaries in his 23 before being caught behind off Saqlain Mushtaq.
Ponting and Hayden shared a second-wicket stand of 184 after Langer was bowled by Pakistani captain Waqar Younis.
It was Ponting’s 12th Test century in 59 matches and the second in the series following his 141 in the first Test played in Sri Lanka earlier this month.
Left-handed Hayden, who hit 119 in the second Test, missed a second successive three-figure knock when he flicked Saqlain to Faisal Iqbal at short leg.
After Steve Waugh elected to take first strike, Langer played over a swinging ball from Waqar to give Pakistan an encouraging start.
But the slow wicket posed no terror for the batsmen and Hayden and Ponting settled in to tame the injury-hit Pakistani attack.
Saqlain toiled hard under the hot sun, sending down 33 overs to claim two wickets at the cost of 125 runs. Leg spinner Danish Kaneria conceded 82 runs from 23 overs, leaving Pakistan rueing the absence of a fifth bowler.
Both teams wore black arm-bands and observed a minute’s silence before play in memory of those killed in the bomb attack in Bali.
Cheering the runs were officers and crew of the Australian warship, HMS Arunta, docked in nearby Port Rashid.
Ponting, who was hurt on the jaw by a delivery from seamer Mohammad Sami which did not rise as expected, has so far hit 13 boundaries and three sixes.
On 86 when Hayden was dismissed soon after tea, Ponting reached his century lofting Saqlain over the long-on fence for his third six.
Pakistan made three changes from the side that lost the second Test inside two days.
Imran Farhat came in for opener Imran Nazir, while middle-order batsman Hasan Raza and Sami replaced the injured Abdul Razzaq and Shoaib Akhtar. The Australian team remained unchanged.
Even though conditions were not as stifling as in the previous game, Match Referee Clive Lloyd allowed players to return to the dressing room during the drinks breaks taken every 45 minutes.