Perth: Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting scored half centuries to leave Australia in the driving seat at the end of an absorbing first day in the third and final test against Pakistan at the Waca today.
Displaying the same fighting qualities that enabled Australia to post a remarkable victory in the second test in Hobart, the pair shared an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 117 to steer their side to 171 for four after Pakistan had been dismissed for 155. Langer, whose second innings century earned him the man-of-the-match award in Hobart as Australia successfully chased 369 for victory, continued where he left off there.
He reached 63 by stumps while Ponting, coming off three successive ducks, rediscovered his touch to score 62. Australia, who already hold a 2-0 lead in the three-match series, had looked to be in total control after ripping through Pakistan's batsman in less than four hours. But the touring team struck back in the final session.
Pakistan captain Wasim Akram trapped Australian opener Michael Slater leg before with the second ball of the innings to join England's Ian Botham on 383 wickets as equal fourth most successful bowler in test history. Mohammad Akram, who was called into the side after Waqar Younis was dropped, then followed his captain's lead by taking three quick wickets.
He dismissed Greg Blewett for 11, Mark Waugh for a duck then claimed the vital wicket of Australian captain Steve Waugh for five as the home side slumped to 54 for four. Langer and Ponting then came to the rescue with their century stand.