Nathan Hauritz is confident his troublesome groin will not restrict his bowling despite admitting to running at only 60 per cent during in what he called a "lucky" half-century in the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan at the MCG yesterday. The 28-year-old made a career-best 75 as Australia declared their first innings on 454 for five. The off-spinner then rounded off a fine individual personal performance by taking the wicket of Faisal Iqbal as Pakistan closed on 109 for four.
Hauritz will be an important part of captain Ricky Ponting's plans over the next few days, with the hope the Melbourne wicket will eventually start to assist spin. "It's just an ongoing thing," Hauritz said of the problem. "I think that the thing that hurt the most when I batted was just the plantar fasciitis [heel inflammation] that's been there for seven months. "Every now and again it just tears some fibres of my heel so, after it warms up, it's a lot better than what it is but, with the groin, I think you saw me run at about 60 per cent. But it's not going to affect my bowling at all."
Hauritz hit the second half century of his career in his role as nightwatchman but it could so easily have been a very different story. He rode his luck to in the first two sessions, surviving numerous close shaves. The most peculiar one came six balls after lunch when he cross-batted a Saeed Ajmal delivery down the ground and was caught by Mohammad Aamer. But, unfortunately for Pakistan, the young quick, who made up a lot of ground to take the catch, was unable to put on the brakes and his momentum saw him run over the rope to hand Hauritz a six.
Hauritz feels it will be a challenge to win the match with the pitch still favouring the bat. But the dismissal of Pakistan captain Mohammad Yousuf, with the penultimate ball of the day, was a major boost for the hosts. "The wicket's still very good, it's only day two obviously," Hauritz added. "I think it's just a matter of being extremely disciplined in our areas and probably getting that last wicket was very crucial."
* With agencies Australia v Pakistan, Day 3, 3.30am start, Showsports 2