Shane Watson put his recent improved form with the bat down to a tougher mental attitude after registering his maiden Test century against Pakistan at the MCG yesterday. Following a run of six half-centuries in 11 innings, Watson's luck finally turned in Melbourne as he brought up three figures for the first time. "It has been a long time coming, it's a massive relief," said Watson. His knock of 120 looks set to pave the way for an Australia victory this morning, with Pakistan on 170 for three needing an improbable 442 to win. Watson is a strong candidate for man-of-the-match after scoring a combined total of 213 in the match and that would make up for the terrible time the strapping 28-year-old has had with injuries. A series of back, shoulder and leg problems limited him to just a handful of one-day appearances and caused him to miss successful campaigns in the 2003 World Cup and 2006-07 Ashes. Now fully fit, Watson is finally starting to justify the faith Australia's selectors have shown in him. "I was in a really good place today, I felt like I didn't let the situation throughout the 90s ... I was trying to clear my mind," he said. "I suppose I learned from Adelaide and from Perth to try to clear my mind and not worry about the score too much. Considering what it meant to me, I cleared my mind really well. It's one of those things where you do need a little bit of luck to go your way and I definitely had my luck today.
"I know I've been batting well throughout the last couple of Tests. It's been a big learning curve to continue to try and develop the mental side of things, to try to clear my mind as much as I can and not get caught up in the situation or caught up in my score. "That's something I'm continuing to develop and I felt like I was able to get through it much better today." Watson spent 67 minutes stuck in the 90s yesterday and then rode his luck on 99 with a full-blooded drive to backward point, where Abdur Rauf spilled a relatively simple catch. But the all-rounder managed a wry smile as he scampered through for a single before raising his arms in triumph to the delight of his parents in the stands. "It took me a long while to get through the 90s," he added. "It didn't help my cause scoring freely with the Pakistanis bowling the line they did, it worked nicely for them, stopped my scoring. "It was also nice to see the ball drop out of Mr Rauf's hands. I actually didn't get much of a chance to think about it because I hit it really well, before I knew it, it was straight at him. "It hit the ground, I didn't have much of a chance to see it. Lucky enough he dropped it for me." * With agencies Australia v Pakistan, Day Five, 3.30am start, Showsports 2
Australia 434-5 decl & (second innings, overnight 117-3): Shane Watson batting 120 Simon Katich c K Akmal b Asif 2 Ricky Ponting c Butt b Aamer 12 Michael Hussey lbw b Aamer 4 Michael Clarke c K Akmal b Aamer 37 Michael North b Aamer 8 Brad Haddin c K Akmal b Aamer 0 Michael Johnson run out (Asif/Ajmal) 22 Nathan Hauritz st K Akmal b Ajmal 8 Extras: (2w, 8nb, 2lb) 12 Total: (73.1 overs, 8 wickets decl.) 225 Fall of wickets: 1-15 (Katich, 2-32 (Ponting), 3-40 (Hussey), 4-143 (Clarke), 5-161 (North), 6-161 (Haddin), 7-198 (Johnson), 8-225 (Hauritz) Bowling: Mohammad Asif 16-3-38-1 Mohammad Aamer 24-6-79-5 Saeed Ajmal 23.1-1-73-1 Abdur Rauf 10-3-33-0 Pakistan 258 & (second innings): Imran Farhat lbw b Bollinger 12 Salman Butt lbw b Johnson 33 Faisal Iqbal b Hauritz 48 Mohammad Yousuf batting 45 Umar Akmal batting 27 Extras: (1w, 2nb, 1lb, 1b) 5 Total: (45 overs, 3 wickets) 170 Fall of wickets: 1-18 (Farhat), 2-80 (Butt), 3-116 (Iqbal) Bowling: Bollinger 10-3-31-1 Siddle 8-3-26-0 Hauritz 15-2-62-1 Johnson 10-2-36-1