Pakistan are closing in on their first Test victory over Australia in 14 years after restricting the hosts to a slender 80-run lead in the second Test with just two wickets in hand. The hosts went to stumps at 286 for eight on day three at the SCG, with Mike Hussey unbeaten on 73 alongside Peter Siddle on 10.
The pair put on 29 for the ninth wicket to give Ricky Ponting's men a glimmer of hope as they look to avoid their first loss to Pakistan since the 1994-95 series.
The experienced leg spinner Danish Kaneria (four for 117) did most of the damage, removing Marcus North (two), Brad Haddin (15) and Mitchell Johnson (three) after tea as Australia lost five wickets for 87 runs in the final session of the day.
Worryingly for Pakistan, Kaneria had to be helped off the field late in the day with severe cramp in his left leg. Kaneria warned his team-mates that this Test was not over yet: “Australians play hard cricket and positive cricket,” he
“Tomorrow's a new day and let's see how it goes. No matter if they get 120 or 130 we need to chase it down. We have a whole day and I am and our team is very confident of our batting line-up. We will come and play very hard cricket tomorrow.”
Shane Watson did not rule out a miraculous Australian win, saying: “I definitely think we're still in it.
It's obviously not the day that we were hoping for - it would have been nice to get at least 200 in front - but while Hussey and Siddle are there we still have a chance. Best case scenario I reckon 150 would be a target, and if everything goes well and we bowl well there's a chance we could give ourselves an opportunity to win the game.”
If the visitors complete their day-four run chase successfully they will level the series at 1-1 heading into the third and final Test in Hobart, which starts on 14 January.