Butt leads Pakistan rally against Australia
LONDON: Salman Butt scored his second fifty of the match and remained unbeaten at the close of the third day here on Wednesday to give Pakistan hope of a record-breaking win in the first Test against Australia at Lord's.
Butt was 58 not out and Test debutant Azhar Ali 28 not out at the close with Pakistan needing a further 326 runs to reach their imposing goal of 440.
That would surpass the highest total ever scored in a fourth innings to win a Test of 418 for seven made by the West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2002/03.
Pakistan's equivalent best is the 315 for nine they made against Australia at Karachi in 1994 while the Lord's landmark was set by the West Indies when compiling 344 for one against England in 1984.
However, conditions were transformed on Thursday as previously overcast, swing-bowler friendly skies, gave way to bright sunshine, with the pitch still a good one on which to bat.
It would still be a remarkable victory but at least Pakistan were putting up a fight after being dismissed for just 148 in their first innings.
Left-handed opener Butt, whose 63 was the top score in that meagre total, struck three fours in five balls off one Doug Bollinger over on Thursday, twice carving the fast bowler through cover-point and then guiding him past gully for another boundary.
But a first-wicket stand worth exactly 50 was broken when Imran Farhat, miscued a pull off a Steven Smith long-hop to Shane Watson at mid-wicket to give the jubilant debutant his first Test wicket.
However, Pakistan vice-captain Butt, playing pace and spin with equal assurance, scored nine boundaries in his 86-ball fifty.
Ali survived a huge lbw appeal from Ben Hilfenhaus off the last ball of the day, with veteran South African umpire Rudi Koertzen ruling in the batsman's favour although replays suggested the ball might have hit leg stump.
But, with no review system in place, Australia were unable to challenge Koertzen's decision.
Australia, bowled out for 334 in their second innings, set Pakistan a formidable target thanks to a second score in the 80s from Simon Katich, also a left-handed opener and tailender Hilfenhaus's Test-best 56 not out.
Debutant wicketkeeper Tim Paine (47) also made his highest score at this level and shared a ninth-wicket stand of 74 with fellow Tasmanian Hilfenhaus.
No 11 Bollinger also chipped in with a Test-best 21 before he was bowled by leg-spinner Danish Kaneria to end a last-wicket partnership worth 52.
Australia saw their lunch score of 188 for five become 188 for seven as Katich and fellow left-hander Marcus North were both caught behind off Umar Gul and Mohammad Asif respectively.
Katich though had made 83, to add to his valuable first innings 80, after four hours at the crease.
Paine and Hilfenhaus kept the runs coming before the keeper was bowled by the leg-spin of Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi.
The seamer, whose previous best was 20 against England at Edgbaston last year, reached fifty in 81 balls with a six, struck high over extra-cover off Asif, and six fours.
Australia, after 15 wickets fell on Wednesday, resumed on 100 for four - a lead of 205.
Katich was 49 not out and nightwatchman Mitchell Johnson, who went on to make a brisk 30, unbeaten on two after medium-pacer Shane Watson had taken a Test-best five for 40.
This two-Test series is being played in England because of security concerns in Pakistan.