Perth: Ricky Ponting and Justin Langer shared a record partnership of 327 runs to put Australia on course for a big victory over Pakistan in the third and final test at the Waca today. Ponting made a career-high 197 and Langer 144 as Australia piled on 451 in their first innings in reply to Pakistan's miserable total of 155.
Pakistan, already 2-0 down in the three-match series, then slumped to 40 for two by the close on the second day, still needing a further 256 to make Australia bat again, never mind avoiding a series clean sweep.
Ponting and Langer's partnership was the highest ever stand by an Australian pair against Pakistan, eclipsing Langer and Mark Taylor's 279-run partnership in Peshawar last year. It was also the fourth highest fifth-wicket stand by Australia against all countries.
The two batsmen had come together on Friday afternoon with Australia in deep trouble at 54-4 against a hostile Pakistani attack. But they guided Australia through to 171-4 by the close before throwing themselves at the Pakistan bowlers on the second day, adding a further 210 before Langer departed after tea.
Ponting, who had made three successive ducks in this series, responded with a glorious attacking innings only to miss out on a first test double-century by just three runs. Starting the day on 62, the Tasmanian brought up his fifth test hundred before lunch when he drove Azhar Mahmood to mid-on for three then passed his highest test score of 127, which he made against England on the 1997 ashes tour, to go to tea on 179.
Langer had also posted his fifth century before lunch, taking a sharp single off Mahmood, but was far more restrained than Ponting, reaching 132 by tea. Like Ponting, the left-handed Langer had been struggling early on in the series before returning to form in the second test in Hobart.
He was under pressure to keep his place in the team before the second test in Hobart until producing a man of the match performance. The 29-year-old made 59 in the first innings before compiling a patient 127 in the second innings to guide Australia to a remarkable series clinching victory.
He continued where he left off in Hobart to register his second successive century, belting 17 fours before he top edged a catch to wicket-keeper Moin Khan off Shoaib Akhtar after tea.