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Aussies are left shocked by Salman Butt

Until this week, Salman Butt was a journeyman Test cricketer. As a well-ordered, under-achieving left-handed batsman, he was sometimes in the Pakistan team, sometimes not. In and out, like his batting. Yesterday, he became a miracle-worker.

In 33.1 overs of mayhem on the first day of the Second Test, Pakistan's new captain supervised the destruction of Australia. Barely had the luncheon tables been cleared than Australia were all out for 88, their lowest Test match score for more than a quarter of a century.

The downfall was engineered by a combination of vivid swing bowling, in which Pakistan's trio of accomplished practitioners all played a part, and leaden footed batting which did not know what had hit it on a sporting, though far from demonic pitch.

Pakistan's bowlers were sublime. The initial breakthrough was made by the 18-year-old Mohammad Amir who pinned the troublesome Simon Katich on off stump as the batsman did his customary waltz across (might he be whistling Blue Danube to himself as he executes the movement?).

In the next over, Mohammad Asif removed Shane Watson, beating the drive with some sharp late movement and Umar Gul then had a fretful Michael Clarke playing round a full-length ball. Ricky Ponting was also leg before as the ball shot back at him, as was Mike Hussey, dumbfounded by Gul.

To demonstrate that Butt could do no wrong he introduced the gentle seam of Umar Amin for his first bowl in Test cricket and was rewarded with a wicket from his 11th ball.

Marcus North pushed forward and edged behind. The cream of Australia's batting had been removed for 40 runs in 15 overs.

There was to be no reprieve. With the first ball after lunch, Amir bowled Steve Smith with an inswinger which the batsman was intending to hit to the leg side.

With the second he bowled Mitchell Johnson who could do nothing about the withering swing.

A run out going for a third run, of all things, as if in a desperate chase in a crucial one-dayer, did for Ben Hilfenhaus and Asif formally ended the innings by having Tim Paine soundly held by Karan Akmal, wafting behind.

Pakistan lost Butt, who played crisply for his 45, hitting a series of well-timed strokes off his legs, and two more wickets to the improbable figure of Watson.

They lead, it was their day but they will need plenty more yet before they can relax.

Belfast Telegraph