Aus romp to victory with Hauritz fifer

Nathan Hauritz couldn’t have given it back to his critics with more authority. The off-spinner, who has regularly drawn flak for his unimpressive last innings bowling, spun Australia to an emphatic 170-run victory in the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan.

The 28-year Queenslander ripped through Pakistan batting on final day of the Test to bring up his maiden five-wicket haul in first-class cricket and along with the fiery Mitchell Johnson, bundle out Pakistan for 251.

It was a Test of various firsts. Apart from Hauritz’s fifer in the last innings, Mohammad Aamer’s brilliant five for 79 and Shane Watson’s maiden Test ton were the highlights of the MCG Test.

However, it was Watson’s consistency with the bat that set up the mammoth victory for the hosts. The young all-rounder top-scored in both innings, with 93 and undefeated 120 respectively and indeed deserved the player of the match award.

Resuming from their overnight score of 170 for three, Pakistan began day-five in the most horrible fashion possible. Johnson wrecked havoc in the first over of the day when he sent Umar Akmal (27) and Misbah-ul-Haq (0) back into the hut in two consecutive deliveries.

With a teasing line and a perfect length, the pacer lured both batsmen forward to drive, found the outside edge of their willows and helped wicketkeeper Brad Haddin add two more catches to his tally. Johnson finished with mean figures of three for 36 with 10 out of his 22 overs not producing a run.

The stage was set for Hauritz with Pakistan wobbling at 171 for five, still 251 runs adrift of the target. And the off-spinner didn’t waste any time in plummeting the visitors further.

He produced two beautifully flighted deliveries in as many balls to get rid of Kamran Akmal (30) and Mohammad Aamer (0).

The elder of the Akmal brothers tried to delay the inevitable with his resilience but got beaten by the guile of Hauritz and watched from outside his crease as Haddin dislodged the bails behind him.

Hauritz’s next delivery turned out to be too good for the Pakistani pace sensation Aamer, who was completely deceived by the extra bounce and had to walk bat to the pavilion after being caught at forward short-leg.

When Doug Bollinger sneaked in with the wicket of Abdul Rauf (5), it was only a matter of time before the hosts wrapped up the match.

While all the madness was taking place, there was one man watching from the other end, shaking his head in despair. Pakistan skipper Mohammad Yousuf held one end up helplessly as he muscled his way to a patient half-century. He prodded and nudged, left most of the balls outside off alone, ducked the bouncers and punished the rare bad ball to the fence.

But Hauritz was in the zone. He soon got the better of Yousuf’s patience and got him caught at the short-leg. He drove him forward, induced a hesitant push and rejoiced as the ball popped in the air and settled into the hands of Simon Katich.

Yousuf was Hauritz’s fourth scalp and Pakistan were nine down. It was the off-spinner’s golden chance to get the first ever fifer in his first-class career and he wouldn’t blow it away or even wait till the next over.

In the last ball of the over, he tossed one up to Saeed Ajmal on the off-side. The number 10 batsman went for an ambitious lofted on-drive and provided a comfortable catch to Watson at mid-wicket. Hauritz finished with five for 101 and Australia earned a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

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