Sunday, January 31, 2010

Status Update

I'll be back in a couple days, I think. More news then.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An Oral History of Pakistan in Four Minutes

Ameen to that.

Ps: If anyone is willing to transcribe and translate all that, I will post it up.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Joy in Pakistan

I have lived in London for a large part of my life, as a child, as a student and now as a young adult trying to build a career. I’ve always held the desire to remain in Pakistan, or to return were I to leave it, with a view to ultimately living out my life within it.

I would sometimes express this view to elders within my immediate circle, usually following the “So Beta, what do you want to be?” question. Given that there was a real enough prospect of becoming an expatriate, the earnest desire to remain in Pakistan would usually draw one of two responses, namely:
  1. a raised eyebrow in mild surprise (pleasant or otherwise), or;
  2. a cynical “We’ll see how you feel in a few years”. A bit like how one might dismiss a five-year boy old when he express his complete disdain for girls, citing pink as an unambiguous example of lameness.
Common to both responses was the underlying notion, that in objective terms, a life overseas was more promising in terms of prosperity, security and comfort, compared to a life in Pakistan.

Considering the question dispassionately, it is hard to argue otherwise. By every measure that is actually measured in developmental terms, Pakistan lags behind. The average Pakistani is less educated and poorer, less safe in terms of crime, less secure in his (and especially her) political and economic rights. Our access to energy is intermittent, our supply of water is tenuous and our healthcare system is overburdened and sometimes prohibitively expensive. Our justice system can be described as selectively functional at best, or generally dysfunctional at worst.

Those are the somewhat measurable commodities. But within the (admittedly flawed) juxtaposition of Pakistan vs ‘The Expatriate Existence (entailing the far east, the middle east, or the West depending upon your good fortune), I would argue that there is a discernable advantage to living in Pakistan, as part of Pakistani society. For the purposes of this post though, I will keep my comparison between the UK and Pakistan as I am familiar with both countries.

Hiding Truth in Bullshit

I do notice that when people start to make the point im about to make, they tend to focus on really superficial, sometimes untrue caricatures like:

  • “Yaar, on the Tube, no one talks to each other” (True but superficial)
  • “Yaar if you fall down on the street people don’t help you up” (This of course is complete bullshit, in London people help you on the street no questions asked)
  • “Yaar, in the UK or US, you will always be a second class citizen” Once again, a statement that strives to be a truism, whilst actually being complete Uppercase Shite. Of course you can be treated like a 2nd class citizen in the UK, but there are a hell of a lot of people in Pakistan who are treated like 2nd class citizens all-the-friggin-time. When was the last time you heard of servants eating from the same cutlery as their sahibs or begum-sahibs? Or the driver coming inside the restaurants to share a meal with his Sahib’s family? Let us at least concede that such instances are rare.
Bullshit notwithstanding, there is a genuine point lurking in the motivation behind some of the dumbass examples listed above. Pakistanis have a sense of wider community that is substantially less pronounced in the UK. We not only have larger and tighter knit nuclear families, we tend to live amongst our extended families and socialise within an extended circle of inter-married, inter related people.

Conversely, that familiar rant against materialism, wherein the objects in our lives replace the people in our lives, has a grain of truth to it, at least from my experience of London. In the UK, the life plan of the average mid-20s man tends to follow a different structure from what you might expect from the average comparable desi.


To illustrate what I mean, watch the following video and see whether the narrative fits neatly with the priorities of the average Pakistani of that age, or even the un-average Pakistani who is fortunate enough to choose whether or not to be an expat.

Sure, it’s not representative of English people. Given that it’s a monologue from a herionchi in a Danny Boyle flick, I’m hardly going to argue otherwise. But it is reflective, of something. It struck some nerve in the UK, didn’t it?

The Pakistani version of that speech might have read as follows:

Choose high grades and an education because of your family. Choose law or medicine or banking because of your family. Choose a girl or boy, from a good family, that fits with your family. Choose to live at home, with your parents (initially anyway). Choose to contribute to the household income. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home on rent. Choose your friends from childhood and a few new ones. Choose cotton Shalwar Kamizes and Shaadi Khana. Choose arguing with your parents and siblings on the weekends, every weekend, until you move out and when they move back in to yours. Choose mindless numbers of weddings, occasional ganas. Choose living life amidst your large, growing, consistently bickering, co-dependant and genuinely loving family. Choose less choice, more stress, more love.
Some Qualifications and Caveats for those already disagreeing

For those already disagreeing, let me say this: I know what you are thinking,and yes you are right.

There are therefore two important qualifications to my argument that anyone posting comments should endeavour to read and understand:

Qualification One: I appreciate that most of our readers are expatriates who are settled abroad (no doubt very happily, with families and communities of their own). Similarly, I accept that my own knowledge of either the UK or Pakistan is limited and specific to me. In that regard, the view I have presented is both a personal opinion and an argument in favour of a proposition. In other words, I would like to hear from people who have had a different experience or who generally disagree for their own reasons because that would help inform me.

Qualification Two: There is a second, more important qualification, namely that it is more often our commitment to our families that compels us to become expatriates in the first place, so the choice between ‘Desi community’ and ‘western independence’ is both an unaffordable luxury and a false choice. There are countless immigrants who hate living away from home, but who do it to earn for their families and provide them with better lives than they could possibly ever have had in Pakistan. I accept that this is true.

In that respect, it is not for me to argue against the benefits of living overseas (as I stressed in paragraph 5, they are undeniable). My point was to argue in favour of a positive aspect of Pakistan that I feel is not given its due weight in such decisions, and which could in many cases be a factor to tip the scales back in Pakistan’s favour, if duly considered.

Trading Up, not Down

Perhaps relationships matters more in Pakistan because things are so uncertain so often. In the absence of any welfare net, we create our own ‘social’ ‘security’ through our networks of family and friends and by continuously maintaining and building upon the bonds between us. But our ‘social safety nets’ aren’t just that. The strength and support they provide is less crucial than the sense of meaning that communities imbue life with. They therefore improve day-to-day quality of our lives in a way that is both real and hard to measure.

To say this is not to devalue independence. There are likely to be few families in Pakistan that manage to strike an ideal balance between individualism and community. But my point is that Pakistan strikes a better balance, that it works in a way that something is not working in the UK, that we are more fulfilled as people because of it. To some degeree, there is more warmth, and colour in our lives and in the lives of our elders and children, because we are perpetually surrounded in each other’s light.

Like everything, that comes with a price, and this post would be incomplete if it did not address the cost of Pakistan’s family values. ‘Community’ means that many of us feel overwhelmed by the total interference of our families in our personal affairs and the lack of respect for our personal space. To take another poor but somewhat reflective example, compare a queue at a ticket counter in London with a queue at a ticket counter in Karachi; sometimes it feels as though every trivial to important personal decision made in Pakistan is that crowded, that hassled. In that respect, community and societal opinion weighs down hard upon us. Very often it is both intellectually and emotionally stifling, and the weight of those pressures can stunt the personal growth of those who have been unable to wrest themselves from under it.

Community in that sense imposes a real burden. But I feel the ‘independence’ I encounter in Londoners entails a measure of isolation, an ultimately unhappy exchange of communal intimacy for privacy. And whilst there is an obvious balance to be maintained between the two, I know which I personally accord greater value to.

As an aside, community has also has a value in personal religious terms. And I speak of religion not in a mundane sawab-gunnah sort of way, but in terms of spiritual satisfaction, particularly if one of the primary objects of faith is to self-forget (and I would argue strongly that this is the case). Take Islam:

  • When you pray you remember Allah (and forget yourself)
  • When you perform Hajj you join the stream of like clad pilgrims (and forget yourself) and focus your mind towards God (and forget yourself further)
  • When you give charity and fast to empathise with the poverty and hunger of the poor (you forget yourself)
In all of that, in all those activities, save for a substantial portion of prayer, our transcendence involves community. We cannot escape ourselves unless we are able to enter the hearts of our mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters.

And that for these reasons, despite everything, I would argue that in objective terms, the Pakistani experience is, in key ways, better and more fulfilling than the expatriate experience.

And commenters, before you proceed to completely rip me to shreds, please remember the caveats!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Imran Khan, Wrong On The Taliban War Again

Imran Khan is at it again. In a talk in London, he advocates the end of military operations in the tribal areas, and the resumption of talks.

“The solution is to hold a dialogue with the militants,” he told an audience at the Chatham House foreign policy thinktank in London.

“The solution is to win them onto our side, not to bomb them with airstrikes.” Otherwise, he warned: “If we continue with this military operation we are facing a catastrophe.”

The militants operating in the tribal areas did not share the beliefs of the Afghan Taliban, who wanted to create an Islamist state, he said.

“In my opinion, they are political Taliban, they are not religious Taliban."

“They will fade away as soon as the Pakistan army moves back and dialogue is held,” he added.

This is nonsense. The Pakistani state -- whether under military governments or civilian -- has held talks with the Taliban. The government has granted local Taliban and their affiliates exactly what they want on at least three different occasions (between 2006 and 2009) and withdrawn forces. Each time, the Taliban and their local affiliates have not observed the terms of the treaty, and extended their political control with intimidation and wiping out local elites (tribal maliks, politicians from the ANP, targeting the police, etc).

Let me say this again: deals have been made in the past. They have failed in the past. If you are arguing for deals in the present and future, you must have a theory of why the future will not be different from the past. Failure to acknowledge this simple fact ensures that I treat such opinions without any seriousness. In other words, when you say "they will fade away as soon as the Pakistan army moves back and dialogue is held" I know you are either lying or ignorant or stupid or all of the above. Does Imran Khan not remember how the military operations actually got underway last May? The Taliban broke the Swat peace deal, and ended up in Buner, and kickstarted a political and military response from the country.

Let me also say for the record: dialogue and negotiations are an inherent part of any war. There cannot be any other way. Military, diplomatic, political, economic, and legal mechanisms must be employed in this war, indeed in all wars. In what combination, and in what order, are tactical questions that only leaders and military commanders can answer. Occasionally, the answers to such tactical questions will be wrong. But they are worth trying in conjunction with all other methods, because war is ugly and exerts a tremendous human toll for locals, and any tactics that can minimize the loss of innocent human life have to be tried. But to assert, contrary to easily verifiable recent history, that the Taliban and their local allies will sit quietly and be satisfied with the concessions you grant them is just wrong.


Readers of this post may like a post I wrote almost two years ago, perhaps-too-provocatively titled "Why doesn't Imran Khan just shut up and go away?"

Spare A Thought, And Some Money, For Haiti

There's few countries in the world that have had fortunes as wretched as Haiti. And now this.

New York Times slideshow here, BBC slideshow here. And honestly, these pictures pale in comparison to the ones I'm watching on CNN right now. Just heart-breaking stuff.

If you are in the U.S., you can easily donate $10 by simply texting "Haiti" to 90999. There are plenty of other ways to donate and help; here are your options if you want to donate through Oxfam, here is the link if you want to go through Unicef, and here's the link to go through the International Red Cross.

Give a little, give a lot, give whatever you can, but make sure that you give.

Tequila Minsky/New York Times

Photo Of The Day

When trying to catch the ball (or staying out of your teammates' way), it might help to keep your eyes open.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What Does It Say About Me...

...that I first read this headline as "Zardari chairs high level, low order sitting"?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Excerpt Of The Day

This is from Hew Strachan's European Armies and the Conduct of War. This passage is about the dichotomy between military technology in the eighteenth century on the one hand, which didn't really allow for total war, and the desires and objectives of military commanders on the other.
The desire to force the issue was reinforced by the economic pressures which demanded a short war. The means were not limited if they were consonant with the objectives. In these circumstances, the arguments of Grotius and Vattel for moderation in war's conduct held little sway. In 1704 Marlborough burnt farms in order to bring the Elector of Bavaria to terms. In 1760, at the siege of Breslau, the Austrians demanded its surrender or, they said, they would pluck the babies from their mothers' wombs. The Prussian commander replied, 'I am not pregnant, nor are my soldiers.'


Yemen On Lather, Rinse, Repeat Cycle

The security-policymaking community in the U.S. works in very predictable ways. Any time a country no one in the U.S. is really familiar with comes up in the news due to some plausible connection to organized terrorism, the following things happen:

1. There is indignation and disgust directed at the government du jour. Government du jour, you see, has been concentrating on Country X With Lots Of Brown People for the longest time, but what it has missed is that Country Y -- which, incidentally, also has Lots Of Brown People -- is also crucial to the war on terrorism.

2. People who have no idea about Country Y With Lots Of Brown People suddenly feel the need to opine on it. This, by the way, is the most entertaining step -- as long as you're not from Country Y With Lots Of Brown People. Nothing is funnier than watching an entire industry of pundits, writers, op-edders, think tankers, cable news invitees, foreign policy "experts" and bloggers pretend to know what the fuck they're talking about.

Of course, if you happen to be from Country Y With Lots Of Brown People, you begin to get worried, because any time the American punditocracy starts talking about you, only bad things happen. This is why I cried myself hoarse during the Pakistan hysteria in the middle of last year, and why I am thoroughly enjoying the Yemen hysteria now.

3. Suddenly, a split emerges, not so much between the right and left, but between the "Wait, hang on a minute, what're we talking about again"ists and the "Bombs away!"ists. The "Bombs away!"ists have never seen a problem that American military action can't solve. Afghanistan? Send it back to the stone age. Saddam Hussein? Invade. Iran? Nuke it. Pakistan? Drone and special ops it to death. Yemen? Hell, we don't know, but do something!

Sometimes their "policy prescriptions" are heeded and sometimes they are not, but remember that the first rule of membership to the "Bombs away"ists crowd is that some form of military action -- really, anything will do -- will help solve the problem. The second rule for them is that not using military action will make the problem so much worse in the future that countless millions of lives in America will be tragically lost. Act now, or run the risk of being forever in regret.

4. People in power have to respond to step 3, which has shifted the contours of the debate significantly toward crazyland. It makes the new "moderate" position anything but, because "moderate" becomes defined by the split between the two extremes in the debate when it should actually be defined in terms of actual conditions on the ground. As an example, consider being on the edge of a cliff, and having two advisers. One tells you to jump. The other tells you to jump, but to untie your shoelaces. Do you know what the moderate position becomes?

Your death. With one shoe untied.

5. The "moderate" position, because it includes some form of intervention, is advanced in policy circles as sensible and wise. It mostly makes things worse, but the important thing to realize, you silly goose, is how much worse things would've been had Moderate Position MP not been advanced in Country Y With Lots Of Brown People. Everyone is patted on the back, until...

6. Country Z With Lots Of Brown People is in the news, because something bad happened there.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Three TV Thoughts

First, President Obama is postponing his first State of the Union speech because of...the season premiere of "Lost". I think I now have all the evidence I need that the U.S. is a truly batshit country.

Second, check out this scathing piece in Slate on NBC's decision to revamp its late night schedule five months after it last changed it. Quick summary: a few years ago, NBC made plans to phase out Jay Leno of the Tonight Show in the coveted 11:30 p.m. slot, and give it to Conan. But instead of retiring Leno, they tried to have it both ways, by moving
him up one hour too -- to 10pm, when he'd be against regular shows, rather than late night talk shows. NBC hoped to have the best of both worlds: have Conan be competitive against Letterman at 11:30, and have Leno be a cheaper and more profitable show relative to the competition at 10.

Well, that's how it worked out, except exactly the opposite. Conan is losing to Letterman, and Leno is proving highly unpopular at the new slot (getting beaten by reruns of CSI:Miami for the love of God), so much so that local NBC affiliates are complaining that he provides sucky lead-in ratings for their news shows. So now NBC is taking yet more half-measures: moving Leno
back to 11:30, but only for a half-hour show, and having Conan move to midnight. Conan, for obvious reason, is pissed: he was promised the Tonight Show, and now appears that he will have the show, just not at the time he thought it would be. As Bill Simmons said in a tweet, "If I were Conan O'Brien, I would have the Masturbating Bear as my only guest for an hour every night until NBC fired me."

Third, I just watched a re-run of an old South Park episode. I had forgotten about this clip, but it's pure genius. As is Cartman. An evil genius to be sure, but a genius nonetheless.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Younis Khan Won The Australia-Pakistan Test Series

I have a post on Dawn's website on the debacle at Sydney. Go check it out.

Headline Of The Day

From Dawn:
Pak warns against foreign meddling in Afghan affairs

Come on, now. Irrespective of your ideological or strategic or political views on what's happened in Central Asia over the last thirty years, you have to admit that's pretty funny.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

It's Nice To See This Whole "Aman Ki Asha" Thing Lasted All Of Five Minutes

Because it was four minutes longer than I expected.

Some quick background. "Aman ki Asha" was a program launched on January 1st jointly by two massive media conglomerates: the Jang Group in Pakistan and the Times of India Group in India. It was aimed at promoting peace and love and all the rest of it on the subcontinent. Worthy goals, to be sure. And we will leave aside the irony of the fact that two news organizations that tend to take the more jingoistic view of things in South Asia are collaborating in this venture; I'm not one to be a wet blanket with these things. If they want to herald a new dawn in relations between India and Pakistan, I'm firmly behind them.

Here's the problem though: it doesn't really matter who is behind them. When you have militant violence in Kashmir flaring up, and Indian generals blustering about taking on China and Pakistan in a war and finishing it in 96 hours in the same week as this initiative, it basically tells you all you need to know.

The problems in South Asia are structural: India is a big country, getting more powerful, with an eye on regional hegemony. Pakistan is a smaller country, perennially insecure, and as a consequence meddling in the internal affairs of countries on both its eastern and western borders. There is a long history of each damaging the other country whenever possible. Until these structural elements of the Indo-Pak relationship are reconciled by the leadership in each country -- Pakistan must understand that parity with India is a fool's errand and therefore must be abandoned as a national objective, and India must understand that Pakistan has real substantive concerns which the former has done nothing to assuage -- relations will be fraught. It's really not that complicated. And while I applaud the Jang and Times of India Groups for Aman ki Asha, I suspect even they know there is little point to the enterprise.

UPDATE: I hope people don't read the heading of this post and think the entire thing has been scrapped already. I was being sort of facetious.

Monday, January 04, 2010

What Do Brit Hume And Mohammad Yousuf Have In Common?

Well, it's certainly not a sweet cover drive, though in all fairness, I've never seen ol' Brit play cricket.

No, I'm referring to their proclivity to evangelize when the situation really, really does not call for it. Here's Brit Hume telling Tiger Woods to convert to Christianity because, you know, he cheated on his wife and stuff, and he needs to find a redemptive faith (no, seriously).

And this is what Yousuf was up to last month in New Zealand:
Yousuf told people there that he tries to preach Islam on his cricket tours abroad, saying that he invited top cricketers like West Indian great Brian Lara and New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori in a bid to provide them with a better understanding of Islam.

“We had a session with Brian Lara when he came to Pakistan and told him things about Islam he didn’t know,” said the Pakistan captain, who began his cicketing career as a Christian but converted to Islam in 2005 changing his name from Yousuf Youhana to Mohammad Yousuf.

“When we were in New Zealand last month, I invited Vettori for a similar session,” he said.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

Liveblogging Pakistan Vs. Australia 2nd Test Day 2

1:04 a.m. And that's the end of the day's play. Australia will have one wicket to get tomorrow morning. Our lead is 204, a pretty sizable one, due mainly to the gritty effort of the openers, and a couple of sparkling 40s from Yousuf and Umar. It could've been a lot more but we shouldn't get too greedy I suppose. That's it from me for this test, the work week is here which means I won't be live-blogging any of the remaining days. Let's hope our bowlers can do at least half as good a job as they did in the first innings tomorrow. Thanks for following and bye.

1:03 a.m. All sorts of problems with my feed here. Feed guy has really let me down today.

1:02 a.m. That crazy shot, mind you, was four balls before the close.

1:00 a.m. Hahaha. Sami swings wildly against Watson, and nicks it through to Haddin. Another crazy shot, but I guess that's understandable from a tail-ender. He too did a fair job, Sami. Our lead is 204, and Asif is in.

12:58 a.m. Don't know what happened there, but Dani gets a single to third man. 330/8, lead of 203.

12:57 a.m. More problems with my feed.

12:55 a.m. What a shot by Sami! He just lent into one from Johnson and it sped through the covers for four. Pushes the lead past 200, we're 329/8.

12:53 a.m. Well I should definitely make a note of appreciation for our performance today. Could we have played better, particularly after tea? Hell yes. But overall, we've done really well. The openers did their job, and the middle order -- while not carrying on from starts -- at least ensured we always had handy little 40-60 run partnerships until the collapse after tea.

12:52 a.m. Sami gets a single off the last ball to keep the strike.

12:50 a.m. And he's gone. That was on the cards, to be honest. Gullee plays his golf shot to midwicket, it goes straight to Bollinger at midwicket, and that's that. Eight down now for 323. A nice little partnership there. Can Dani hang around a little bit and push this lead past 200?

12:49 a.m. He's getting real adventurous, Gullee. Gives himself room and tries to swat it through the off side. Swings and misses.

12:48 a.m. Anyway Watson to bowl to Gullee.

12:46 a.m. The commies are having a real laugh at Sami's expense, as HotSpot shows that exactly where that ball hit poor Sami.

12:45 a.m. Hahahahaha. Sami gets hits in the nuts and Warney has the line of the day: "Don't rub 'em, count 'em." Classic.

12:42 a.m. Gullee edges Johnson, but it's too wide for Haddin and too short for North at first slip. They get a single for their troubles.

12:40 a.m. Johnson replaces Bollinger, who got some cheap wickets there.

12:39 a.m. Hahaha. Sami charges and swings across the line like a baseball player. He edges it of course (who the hell would middle a shot like that?) and it goes over the slips for four. 322/7, the lead is 195. Handy little partnership here of about 30 odd.

12:38 a.m. Gullee batting like a top-order player here, taking the single to deep point by just tapping it. Play him as an all-rounder?

12:36 a.m. And now Sami into the act! He smacks the newly introduced Watson over the covers for three.

12:35 a.m. Good over for us. 314/7, a lead of 187. If these guys sand Dani (I have no hope for Asif with the bat) somehow, some way can get us to above 350, they would've done their job and more.

12:34 a.m. Four more! Replay of the ball two balls ago. Going round the wicket, Bollinger has conceded 13 runs in two legal deliveries.

12:33 a.m. And Bollinger loses it temporarily, giving Gullee a bouncer that was well down the leg side. Haddin had no chance. Five wides. 310/7.

12:33 a.m. Bang! Gullee smacks a Bollinger pitched up delivery through the covers for four. Man do we need these runs.

12:31 a.m. Well left, Gullee.

12:30 a.m. Maiden over, score remains at 301/7, lead of 174. I have to wake up in six and a half hours, by the way. Good times.

12:28 a.m. Sami showing more discipline here than Misbah and Kamran combined. It's just a shame that (a) none of the top five, all of whom got decent scores, went big, and (b) neither of six and seven sized up the situation and realized we need to be batting tomorrow. Pity.

12:27 a.m. More drama here. Sami walks across his stumps, gets hit in front, looks a touch high, but the Aussies go up. Ashoka says no, Ponting chooses to review, and sure enough, it's high. Sami survives for now.

12:24 a.m. Now he gets two to square leg with a thick inside edge, raising our 300. 301/7, a lead of 174. This has been their session, no question. Their first of the match.

12:24 a.m. Haha. Gullee ducks into a Bollinger bouncer, and it flies to fine leg for four leg byes.

12:22 a.m. This has been so frustrating to watch. We've thrown away a chance to bat them out of the game. At 200-2, we would have legitimately ended up with 450 or something, a lead of 325. Now? They'll be feeling pretty okay, Australia.

12:20 a.m. Lead or no lead, this collapse has been embarrassing. We've lost 7 for 90.

12:19 a.m. Haha. And now it will be 2 out of 15. Bollinger pitches well outside off, and Kamran chases it, and smacks it straight down the throat of deep point. Another really stupid shot. I mean, what are these guys thinking? Do they think we have enough? Are they that stupid?

12:18 a.m. 295/6, a lead of 168. It really is amazing the extent to which we struggle to get to 350 in a test innings. Remember the number is 2 out of the last 14.

12:17 a.m. Kamran looking good here, working a single to that man at deep cover. Brings Sami to face Siddle.

12:15 a.m. Replay off the last over, as Kamran steers Siddle for four through the slips. The commies don't really know why there's not a third man, but a deep point. They have a point there. Haha. See what I did there?

12:13 a.m. Sami solidly behind that one. He needs to support Kamran here, who in turn needs to keep his head. Australia are very much in this game -- we do not want to be chasing anything more than 150 in the fourth innings. Not with our proclivity to collapse in a giant heap.

12:11 a.m. Four leg byes off Sami's first ball. They all count. We need to get to 375. We're at 290 right now. Will Kamran and the tail be able to get us there?

12:10 a.m. We've really thrown it away this session. Yousuf and Misbah played bad shots. Umar, fine, that was a decentish ball. But we've let them back into it, no doubt about it.

12:08 a.m. We needed to bat until tomorrow, but with Misbah's inane shot, that is not less likely. The silver lining is that another failure from Misbah means Younis will be more likely to return for the third test. The fool made 11 by the way.

12:07 a.m. Gone! Misbah's gone playing the worst shot of the day. Bollinger bowled a bouncer across Misbah, who decided that this is a particularly good time to play the first hook of his career. He edges it to Haddin, who's had a good game behind the stumps, taking that safely. That was really stupid, because it now leaves Kamran with just the tail. God, we're a daft team.

12:06 a.m. And now playing for the inswing, Siddle gets one to holds its line, and beats Kamran's outside edge. It's been action packed since lunch basically -- lots of runs, lots of wickets, and lots of stuff happening. Our lead is 159 now.

12:06 a.m. Oooh. Siddle seams one in. Kamran left it, but it jagged back in and went over the stumps almost.

12:03 a.m. Four more for Kamran, as he works Siddle through the third slip region. No third man.

12:01 a.m. Bollinger charging in here, beating Misbah.The lead is 152. A hundred more, kids. A hundred more.

12:00 a.m. Hahahaha. That's the third or fourth time in the last two months that I've seen Kamran get off the mark with a four first ball. He smacks Bollinger through extra cover for a boundary.

11:59 p.m. A lot of starts from us. Imran, Butt, Yousuf, and Umar all got out between 45 and 75. No one's gone on. How much will that hurt us on days 3 and 4 when Australia look to fight back?

11:58 p.m. And the review looks like he's out. Wow, what a huge wicket. Umar gone for 49, just as we were putting the foot on their throat. Every time we look like we're about to get away, they get a wicket. Anyway, Umar goes for a sparkling 49 off 48 balls, and is replaced by his brother.

11:56 p.m. I missed some action here, but I just got back in time for an LBW appeal from Bollinger against Umar. Doctrove says no, but it's been reviewed.

11:55 p.m. And we're back. Nothing really happened I guess, since we added just two runs. The partnership is 35.

11:52 p.m. Buffering. Goddamn this feed guy has pissed me off today.

11:50 p.m. Misbah has a job to do here. He can't get bogged down and hog the strike by not taking singles. When someone's on fire like Umar, you've got to feed him.

11:48 p.m. He's got the commentators so intrigued, does Umar. There's just something about him -- he has a presence, and oomph, an aura. And he's nineteen.

11:46 p.m. A single off the last ball, keeps the strike, Umar. Lead is 141.

11:45 p.m. And again. This time cutting in a touch.

11:45 p.m. And now Siddle beats him. Umar is on 41 off 32 balls. Crazy.

11:43 p.m. It's all happening. First Siddle drops it short and wide, Umar tries to hammer it, but chops it down on the ground and lets out a scream. Then he gets hit on the pads, it's a half shout, takes off for a single, and is sent back by Misbah. Action-packed stuff, this.

11:41 p.m. Anyway, Bollinger took the new ball here. Misbah playing very cautiously, which is fine. It's 267/4. We're now at $1.41 to win, Australia are at $6.20 and the draw is at $5.

11:40 p.m. Umar's somehow on 41. What a guy.

11:38 p.m. How do we have a lead of 139? Let me check Cricinfo real quick -- I missed about fifteen minutes of action there.

11:38 p.m. Holy shit, what happened? How are we 266/4?

11:20 p.m. Buffering. Crap.

11:18 p.m. Misbah's first runs, as he glances Johnson for two. Good running. Our running has really improved with Butt's dismissal.

11:17 p.m. It whizzes past Misbah's throat. He's going to get out soon, isn't he?

11:15 p.m. Johnson to Umar. Good fielding at deep square keeps them down to one. Misbah to face.

11:13 p.m. Two for Umar off Hauritz into the leg-side. Single to follow. He looks in command, does Umar. Let's hope Misbah doesn't fuck it up for him.

11:11 p.m. That really was a terrible shot. I mean he was completely in control. He just fended at that one. He flashed, but didn't flash hard. Haddin took a fantastic catch, no doubt, but man -- that was heart-breaking.

11:09 p.m. Gone! Yousuf's gone! Against the run of play, that. He tries to guide Johnson over the slips, it was really a nothing shot, the type he used to play from 2000-2004. Throws his wicket away, and he's angry with himself, no doubt. Goes for 45, and suddenly OZ are very much in this game. They get another here, and they can keep the lead to well within reasonable proportions.

11:08 p.m. Umar edges (but with soft hands, so all along the ground) Johnson through the slips for three.

11:08 p.m. Well left by Umar. Don't chase Johnson outside off.

11:07 p.m. And a single into the off-side for Yousuf. Great running from both of 'em.

11:06 p.m. A single into the leg-side for Umar.

11:04 p.m. Yousuf pushes through the covers for two. Our lead is 105.

11:04 p.m. Hauritz is scared now, pitching it well outside off.

11:03 p.m. Yousuf into the act, moving across his stumps, and smacking Hauritz to square leg for four. The lead is above 100, 230/3.

11:02 p.m. Well apparently Umar got Johnson away for four somehow. He's up to 20.

11:02 p.m. Argh, for fuck's sake. Still buffering.

11:00 p.m. Oh no, don't buffer on me now. Not while Umar's at the crease. Come on, feed guy. Come on.

10:58 p.m. Johnson replacing Siddle. Strange decision, I have to say. Siddle's been the best bowler all day, he just got a wicket...and he's taken off.

10:56 p.m. Same shot, but flatter. Four more. I've said all series that Hauritz does not want any part of Umar Akmal. He's going to eat him alive if he keeps bowling. Anyway, 16 off the over, and Umar Akmal, it is safe to say, has arrived at the crease. Fucking hell, this guy gives me goosebumps. 221/3, and the lead is 94.

10:55 p.m. Hahaha this guy is something else. Hauritz tosses it up, and Umar smacks it to cow corner. Probably went too high rather than too far, so it's only four, not six. Lead is up to 90.

10:54 p.m. That's 8 in 2, this time cutting Hauritz for four more.

10:54 p.m. Hahahahaha. Umar smacks Hauritz through the covers for four first ball. Haddin's expression was priceless.

10:53 p.m. Faisal made 27 by the way.

10:52 p.m. And now Siddle beats Yousuf's prod outside off stump. This is the partnership where it all comes together. If it's less than fifty, OZ will be very much in it. If they bat on, well, I don't know. But suffice it to say, I'd like them to bat on.

10:50 p.m. Hahaha. What a way to go. Faisal slices a full delivery from Siddle, it goes to deep cover, where there was a man sort of half way back. Watson had to backtrack, and took it over his head. Great catch, very strange dismissal, solid partnership, and in comes the prodigal son: Umar Akmal.

10:47 p.m. You remember all those comments about "you get one on this pitch, and you can get two or three"? Our partnerships today: 109, 35, 60. Credit to each of our players for sticking it out even when they looked all over the place (Farhat and Faisal).

10:45 p.m. A no-ball followed by a delightful cut by Yousuf for four to the cover fence. He's on to 37, Pakistan move to 203/2. The fifty partnership was also brought up by the last boundary, so the milestones are coming thick and fast.

10:45 p.m. Again charges, and this time he lofts Hauritz over wide mid on for four. He's played very positively, Yousuf.

10:44 p.m. Worked for two behind to short third.

10:43 p.m. Yousuf charges, but yorks himself. Yeah, I figured he'd go after him.

10:42 p.m. And another maiden. Just settling in, we are. I do think that one of these guys will go after Hauritz soon, if he keeps bowling.

10:41 p.m. Yousuf misses a slash outside off. He needs to be careful here. We need him to be batting tomorrow.

10:39 p.m. Ooh, Siddle gets one to jump away from Yousuf. He's been their best bowler today, but strangely under-used by Ponting.

10:38 p.m. And a maiden to Faisal. I think he still can't believe that nothing happened in that last over.

10:36 p.m. Anyway, Hauritz from the other end.

10:35 p.m. Unbelievable. I can't get over that. Anyway, there was a single in the over, and it's 191/2. Lead of 64.

10:33 p.m. I can't believe they didn't appeal. I never thought that in this day and age, what with review systems and what not, a batsman can get away with a nick that huge. Hahaha. The look on Faisal's face is priceless. He's such a little rascal, Faisal. There's so much Karachi in him, it's not funny.

10:32 p.m. And we're back, and almost immediately Faisal nicks Siddle through to the keeper. In fact, it IS a nick, but only Bill Lawry appealed. They didn't appeal! The Aussies didn't appeal! There's a clear nick. Wow.

10:10 p.m. And Faisal works Hauritz behind square for a single off the last ball of the session, giving us a lead of 63 with eight wickets in hand. Yousuf is playing like he means business. 190/2 then, and I'll be back in 20.

10:09 p.m. Hauritz bowling the last over before tea.

10:07 p.m. Aha. Siddle over-pitches, and Yousuf spanks him through the covers for four. 189/2, lead is suddenly ballooned to 62. We've scored 36 runs in the last five overs, and it's all due to Yousuf playing and running positively.

10:06 p.m. Three more, but I can't tell you how because I lost pictures. Both batsmen on 23.

10:05 p.m. Nice, very nice. Faisal leans forward and drives Siddle for four through the covers. His best shot of the day, which isn't saying much I know, but still.

10:04 p.m. Straight away has Faisal feeling for one outside off.

10:03 p.m. And like I said, Siddle getting into the attack, replacing the ineffective Bollinger. Probably his only over before the break, Siddle. Faisal to face.

10:02 p.m. Yousuf paddle sweeps a Hauritz full toss for four down to fine leg. He's raced to 23, easily overtaking Faisal's 16. 178/2, and the lead moves above 50.

10:01 p.m. Faisal playing cautiously. You get the feeling he really wants a go at Hauritz, but getting out to him twice at Melbourne is probably holding him back.

9:59 p.m. Hauritz replaces Watson 10 minutes before tea.

9:58 p.m. Shot of the day. Bollinger over pitches, and Yousuf just lent into that, to long off for four. Just so good to watch, Yousuf. Like I said, Bollinger's not moving it at all, and with the angle, he's just allowing Yousuf to size him up. We've moved to 173/2, lead of 46.

9:57 p.m. Buffering.

9:56 p.m. Oooh, first false stroke from Yousuf. Bollinger drops it short, Yousuf tries to pull, gets a bottom edge, and it goes behind the wicket for four.

9:55 p.m. Really positive running from Yousuf, working it backward of square on the leg side, and he gets two easily. He's come out with intent, no doubt about it.

9:54 p.m. Yousuf pushes Bollinger between gully and point for two more. Bollinger's not really doing anything other than going across, and Yousuf is just able to line up shots through the off-side. I'd bring Siddle on for a couple overs before tea if I was Ponting. He might hurry one of these two.

9:52 p.m. Just the boundary then. 160/2, lead of 33.

9:50 p.m. Full, wide, four. Faisal smacks it over the infield over backward point, perfectly safe.

9:48 p.m. End of Bollinger's over. Not to jinx him or anything, but Yousuf looks pretty comfortable out there -- certainly more so than Faisal, who's been there for an hour longer. 156/2. Lead of 29.

9:46 p.m. And now two behind square, as Yousuf works Bollinger off his hips. Classic Yousuf shot, that.

9:45 p.m. Better, much better. Faisal drops it in front, and Yousuf calls him through for a quick single. Where has that been all day?

9:43 p.m. Beautiful. Watson drops it short, and Yousuf -- well, to say he pulled it would be too strong a word. More accurate to say he pivoted and just helped it on its way to the square leg fence. So languid, is Yousuf. It's 153/2. Lead of 26. Remember, kids. We get through to tea without any further wickets, and we have a real chance.

9:42 p.m. Drama here. Watson gets one to jag back, it hits something, and the Aussies go up. Ashoka says no, the Aussies ask for a review, and it's nowhere close to Yousuf's bat or gloves. That's a review wasted then.

9:39 p.m. Oooh. Yousuf drives Watson, gets the outside half of the bat, and it goes through gully for two. Dangerous, that.

9:38 p.m. Good single, a tap and run from Yousuf. Clark was in there in a hurry, but I think we would've been safe it it had hit. 147/2.

9:37 p.m. Good leave. That's how Johnson gets all his wickets, pitching it on the stumps and just angling it away. Have to know where your off stump is.

9:37 p.m. Nicely driven, but straight to mid-off.

9:35 p.m. Back and across, solidly into the covers.

9:35 p.m. Faisal gets a single off Johnson into the legside. Johnson to Yousuf is the key battle.

9:34 p.m. Solidly behind that one, Yousuf. Need a big innings from him here. He needs to bat a long time.

9:33 p.m. Well bowled. A nice bouncer, which Yousuf lets go safely.

9:32 p.m. Yousuf's first ball then, Watson to bowl.

9:32 p.m. Faisal needs to tighten up here. No more fucking around.

9:30 p.m. We need to get to tea without further loss. It's 40 minutes from now. No. More. Wickets.

9:28 p.m. Gone! Johnson with a huge wicket, as he gets Butt driving and nicking through to Haddin. That was an excellent delivery, moving away late after being angled in. Butt goes for 71, and you have to say, he deserved a hundred, but that's the way it goes sometimes. He's done his job, and now it's up to Yousuf and (later) Umar from here. Captain's innings, right now. Come on Yousuf.

9:25 p.m. Faisal is looking so scratchy here, I can't tell you. Another edge towards the slips, but it goes for one.

9:23 p.m. Just the single off the over then. 143/1. Mark Taylor is confused how we played so much worse on a more Pakistani like pitch at Melbourne. Listen, dude, there's no point in trying to find the logic in our play.

9:21 p.m. There we go. That wasn't hard, was it, Faisal? Tap, place, and run.

9:20 p.m. 142/1, lead of 15. As I said earlier, Butt needs to carry on. A hundred at a minimum, a big hundred would be nice. He deserves it too, he's played really well.

9:19 p.m. Butt's last fifty runs have come in basically fifty balls, or something close to it.

9:18 p.m. Phoof. Ian Chappell almost commentator curses Butt, who slashes Johnson just over the slips for four. Hey man, we'll take 'em.

9:17 p.m. Johnson continuing to Butt.

9:13 p.m. Well, if he was going to get a boundary, it would be an edge through the vacant third slip region. He moves on to a torturous seven, our lead to 11, and drinks on the field.

9:12 p.m. Again, Faisal stuck. This is so frustrating. There's no concept of thinking about the game, of its nuances, of using strategy to play around iffy form. It's just block, block, block, and then wait to get out. Very disappointing.

9:09 p.m. 134/1. "A serious lead is needed here," intones Mark Nicholas. Yes. Yes it is.

9:08 p.m. Faisal finally gets a single away. He's playing and missing like it's nobody's business. "Well, at least he's off two," jokes Slats.

9:06 p.m. Butt flays Johnson for four behind point with an upper cut. He's played well, Butt. The man goes back, so he pushes a one off the next ball. He's got to 67 in no time.

9:05 p.m. Oooh, close. Faisal almost inside edges Watson on to his stumps. Again, he's worked himself into a lather. I keep repeating myself, but I mean, I don't know what else to say: you will get yourself out if you don't look for singles at every point in your innings -- even early on.

9:05 p.m. Daaaammmn.

9:04 p.m. Faisal's stuck in mud here, no question about it. He just can't get it away.

9:04 p.m. And that bye gives us a lead of one run.

9:03 p.m. Someone should tell the Aussie commies that Tony Greig is actually pronouncing "Akmal" incorrectly, so there's no need to be impressed by him.

9:01 p.m. Faisal's on 2 off 28 by the way.

9:00 p.m. Holy shit, that was a great ball. How that missed both Faisal's outside edge and the off stump I'll never know. Johnson with a beauty.

8:59 p.m. Well, pictures come back at an important time: scores are level. 127/1.

8:58 p.m. My guess, by the way, for the last time we had a first innings lead on OZ has to be Hobart, 1999.

8:56 p.m. Sigh. Buffering. I'm about to throw something.

8:54 p.m. Again the inability to get a single. That was fairly short and fairly wide, but Faisal tried to hit it through the field, rather than tap it in a gap and run.

8:53 p.m. Ponting ringing the changes from the other end. Johnson quickly gave way to Bollinger who's had a short spell to be replaced by Watson.

8:52 p.m. 122/1 then. Inching our way to a lead. God, I can't even remember the last time Pakistan had a first innings lead on Australia. Can someone look that up for me please?

8:50 p.m. He's really getting Faisal to stretch outside off to play away from the body.

8:50 p.m. Hauritz to Faisal. Come on, Faisal.

8:47 p.m. Cliche alert: if you're going to flash, flash hard. Bollinger drops short, and Butt gives it everything and it flies over the slips. Four more. Deficit is down to six.

8:46 p.m. Yeah, I spoke too soon. Disappeared again.

8:45 p.m. Crossed fingers, but it appears we're back. 117/1. Butt facing Bollinger.

8:44 p.m. This is uber-annoying.

8:38 p.m. In between paused pictures, I gathered that Butt got to his fifty.

8:34 p.m. This feed is really pissing me off. I'm getting very annoyed.

8:34 p.m. Buffering.

8:32 p.m. Nice cover drive from Butt. He's pushing harder though, making it more likely he gets an edge that carries. Gets three and moves to 49.

8:30 p.m. Bollinger replaces Johnson.

8:29 p.m. Bloody hell. Hauritz beats Faisal twice in a row. No harm done though. Wicket maiden, it's 109/1. Butt really needs to carry on here. He's the guy in form, he's the guy with the big hundred in the side game and two starts at Melbourne. Really needs to go on and get a real score.

8:28 p.m. Solidly behind the first one from Hauritz.

8:26 p.m. So much for catching your breath. Of course, Imran Farhat had to get carried away. He tries to sweep Hauritz, he edges it straight up, and Haddin takes an easy catch. So in his 4 innings, Farhat made 53. This is a key moment, we have to stay solid. The commies have been talking all day about this being a "get one, and you get a couple" type pitch. It's up to Faisal to prove them wrong. 109/1.

8:25 p.m. Phew, catch-you-breath time. We've fairly raced to 109/0.

8:24 p.m. Four more! A full pitched delivery outside off, and Butt squeezes it through the slip cordon, almost chopping it down. He moves on to 46; he's scored more runs these last fifteen minutes than he did in his previous three hours at the crease.

8:23 p.m. More runs, as Johnson strays, and Butt clips him for two through square leg.

8:22 p.m. Four more, with Butt opening the face, getting it through gully for a boundary. Hundred partnership, and someone has clearly got to these guys to be more positive in this session.

8:21 p.m. And now Farhat into the act, squeezing Johnson off the outside half of his bat for three through gully. A good throw would've had Butt in trouble, but he's safe. Good to see us ticking now. 99/0.

8:19 p.m. Beautifully played cut by Butt. This was all along the ground, and had to pierce a thicker off side field that Ponting had set after the last cut. Four more, and he moves on to 36. Farhat, by the way, reached his fifty at some point -- probably while I was being buffered.

8:18 p.m. 92/0, kids. Luck or no luck, lazy running or no lazy running, this has been an incredible opening stand. By Pakistani standards? This is positively Greenidge/Haynesque.

8:18 p.m. As a result of the previous shot, Hauritz drops short, and Butt smacks him through the covers for four.

8:17 p.m. Butt lofts Hauritz over mid off for two. Didn't hit the middle, but that's a safe shot with the field up. I'm okay with that.

8:15 p.m. I really hope someone -- presumably Waqar, since Inti doesn't have a brain -- told these two to look for singles in the inner ring. It's the easiest way to get frustrated, playing dot ball after dot ball. It keeps some momentum going, it makes you feel good about yourself, it pisses the hell out of opposing captains and bowlers, and most of all, YOU SCORE RUNS.

8:14 p.m. Okay, we have pictures. I think Hauritz bowled the first over for two. Johnson in from the other end to Farhat.

8:11 p.m. Buffering. My least favorite word in the English language.

8:08 p.m. And we're back. Frigging streaming issues. Ugh.

7:30 p.m. Yes. 84/0 then. Our session absolutely, but man it could've been different. The last hour, in particular, saw a bunch of lucky escapes. Be back in 40 then.

7:30 p.m. A couple of nice drives in this over from Butt, but straight to the fielder. Can he survive the last ball?

7:28 p.m. Siddle bowling perhaps the last over before lunch. Nothing stupid now, guys.

7:26 p.m. Hauritz of all people is ripping it. I tell you what, however we bat, Dani will have a massive role to play in their second innings. He better be up for it. Couple singles off that over by the way. 84/0.

7:22 p.m. Another over gone. 82/0.

7:18 p.m. You know what the crazy thing is? Farhat is somehow on 47.

7:17 p.m. Farhat now goes for a paddle sweep from about 17 feet outside off. He gets away with it, edging it for three. It was a no-ball too, so we get to 81/0. This last half hour or 45 minutes has been unbelievable.

7:15 p.m. Yup. Tries a huge drive, slices it, but it evades the point fielder for two.

7:14 p.m. Hauritz replaces Bollinger, who had a very short spell. I see Farhat doing something truly insane here.

7:13 p.m. Play and a miss from Butt. I'm shaking my head as I type this. How we're none down I will never know. 75/0.

7:12 p.m. And now Butt trying an over ambitious pull against Siddle. I see a wicket or two before lunch.

7:11 p.m. God we're living dangerously.

7:10 p.m. Wow. That was an easy run made to look suicidal by Imran Farhat. Butt knocks it into the offside, sets off, and because Farhat is so slow and lazy, was halfway down by the time Johnson threw it in.

7:08 p.m. A Shoaib Malim sighting. "You need a big hall for those gatherings of former Pakistani captains," Chappell says dryly.

7:06 p.m. Yeah, Ian Chappell is on the same point: that these guys don't maneuver the ball at all.

7:05 p.m. That graphic confirms the strangle: 23 runs in the last 15 overs. They've bowled well, but not that well. You need to be able to knock it around for singles.

7:04 p.m. Anyway, after all that drama, it's 73/0. I just wish someone would tell these guys that you can actually score off singles as well. They still count, you know.

7:03 p.m. And now Butt losing it, going for the big booming drive. These guys need to calm down. There's half an hour to lunch. The way to release the pressure is to knock it around and get singles. They haven't been nearly aggressive enough in their running and placement of the ball. That's why they end up trying crazy shots.

7:00 p.m. That's weird. After Watson had Farhat losing his shit, Ponting takes him off for Siddle.

6:58 p.m. I'm still shocked at those two balls last over. How this guy is still batting is completely beyond me.

6:54 p.m. Hahahahah. And now he charges and tries a cross-bat slog. Unbelievable. What's more, he could've been "stumped" because Haddin threw the ball back at the stumps, and he never bothered getting back in the crease. "How bad was that?" asks Bill Lawry. Very bad. Imran Farhat bad.

6:53 p.m. Hahaha. With his luck, Farhat should really take up residence in Vegas. He drives Watson, nicks it, but it falls just short of a diving Ponting at second slip. Everyone else's edges carry and get caught. Not Farhat.

6:51 p.m. Ooh, good finish from Bollinger, as Salman inside edges an attempted drive on to his pads. Good over. 70/0 still.

6:50 p.m. That's better. I'd like to see some more singles here. Our openers really struggle to score unless they get the ball through the field. I can recall only one tap and run all morning.

6:50 p.m. Argh, that's loose. Butt's cover drive somehow ends up to mid on. Feet not going anywhere.

6:47 p.m. One left arm quick replaces another. Bollinger in for Johnson.

6:46 p.m. Farhat's luck continues, though to be fair, that was soft hands. He edges it all along the ground for four through the slips. 70/0.

6:43 p.m. Watson switching to round the wicket for Farhat.

6:42 p.m. Ooooh, just as I say that, Butt drives uppishly. Gets to point on the bounce. Safe enough though, it's 66/0.

6:39 p.m. Butt pushes Johnson down the ground for two. Again, not trying to hit it hard. He's looked much better than Farhat, despite having fewer runs (36 vs. 23).

6:37 p.m. Watson keeping it in the channel, just outside off. I feel something giving here soon. Farhat does not have that much patience. Anyway, it's 64/0. Deficit is 63.

6:34 p.m. Oooh, it's all happening. Butt tries to turn a shortish ball from Johnson, gets a leading edge, and it goes past short leg. Have to say, luck is favoring us this morning. But then again, they had plenty of near misses yesterday too, we just don't remember them because ten wickets fell around those near-misses. But no doubt about it, things have tightened up here with Watson and Johnson settling in. We need to get through this period.

6:33 p.m. Oooh, smart. As soon as I type that, the leg gully goes to mid on, allowing a fuller length, which Johnson duly delivers, draws Butt into a drive away from his body, and he's beaten. Very nice thinking from the Aussies, just keeping them on their toes.

6:32 p.m. Johnson changing it up here, with short bowling to Butt. There's a short leg and a leg gully, and no one saving runs in front of square except for mid-off.

6:30 p.m. How does Jackie Chan always conveniently find something to throw at people chasing after him? Can someone please figure this out for me?

6:27 p.m. Well, there's definitely less chirp from the Aussies in this game. There's not a sweeter sound in cricket than silence from the Aussies.

6:27 p.m. On the move, Farhat, and is beaten. Watson keeping it steady here.

6:26 p.m. Farhat's wrist is still clearly bothering him, as the physio is out giving him another tape job.

6:25 p.m. Well played, Salman. Just a really solid defensive stroke. Bat and pad right next to each other, head over the ball, front knee bent, full face of the bat. No run, but does it matter? 62/0.

6:22 p.m. We're scoring at about two and a half in this session, which is just fine. Remember, today is an extra long day with lots of time to be added. If we bat solidly, the runs will come. If we somehow bat into the third session, my guess is runs will come a lot easier. We just have to bat and bat and bat.

6:20 p.m. Seem to have pictures back, touch wood. Watson bowling to Butt.

6:17 p.m. Well, I can tell you that we're 59/0. Deficit is 68.

6:16 p.m. This is really pissing off. What am I paying 14 dollars for 3 tests, 5 ODIs and a T20 for?

6:13 p.m. Sorry guys, streaming issues.

6:10 p.m. He got hit on the finger yesterday too, Farhat. Ended the day's play, if I recall correctly.

6:08 p.m. Oooh, that must've hurt. Watson gets one to bounce off a length to Farhat, and it hits him on the wrist and forearm. Some medical attention to Farhat here, and he looks like he might've lost feeling a little bit. A good time for a drinks break.

6:06 p.m. Nice, very nice from Butt. Tucked a good length ball from Watson on middle behind square for three. Shot of the day for me. Very well controlled. I don't want to jinx us, but we're doing well here, just ticking it over solidly and taking advantage of anything off line. Like I said, they need to not worry about anything like the score or the pitch or anything else -- just keep batting.

6:04 p.m. 55/0 then. Deficit is down to 72.

6:03 p.m. And another drive down the ground for four from Farhat, this time from a Johnson full toss.

6:01 p.m. "Pakistan with a huge opportunity." Shut up, Slats. Stop trying to jinx us.

5:59 p.m. And that's Farhat's first boundary of the day, as he drives solidly down the ground. Again, the key was that he didn't try to hit it hard. And the fifty is up, 50/0. Despite a few hairy moments, this first hour has been ours. How will OZ respond?

5:57 p.m. Farhat tries to glance Watson, it hits the thigh pad, and the Aussies go up. Ashoka shakes his head, but you never know with him.

5:56 p.m. Hahaha. This Johnson guy is so hard to figure out. To Farhat, he sprays it well down the leg side, missing leg stump by three feet, Haddin can't get to it, and they scamper a bye. The next ball to Butt is pitched back of a length just outside off, nips away, and Butt is lucky to still be there. Anyway, Watson is replacing Siddle, who had an excellent spell this morning.

5:51 p.m.The commies have a bemused tone talking about Younis' absence. Slats in particular can't figure it out. You're not the only one, Slats. 45/0. Deficit is 82.

5:49 p.m. Nice shot from Farhat, as Siddle gets too straight, and he flicks it through midwicket for three. Walked across his stumps though.

5:47 p.m. Just as the commies are talking about how Johnson's loose deliveries facilitate his wicket-taking, he drops one wide and Butt chases it. Come on, guys. Sensible. It's 42/0. Deficit is 85.

5:44 p.m. Johnson into the attack. His first over on the fifth day completely killed us. What'll he do here?

5:43 p.m. Steaming issues. Shit.

5:39 p.m. Nice shot from Farhat for two through the covers off Siddle. Big difference there was that he didn't try to smack it, he just lent into it.

5:38 p.m. We've inched to 38/0.

5:37 p.m. Farhat sets off for an absolutely suicidal run. He hits it straight to cover and starts running. Butt was gone by yards if it had hit.

5:34 p.m. Another over survived. And isn't it wonderful that batsmen have to really work to survive. Isn't this what test cricket is meant to be like?

5:33 p.m. Siddle's bowling beautifully here. He's beating Farhat and Butt for fun.

5:30 p.m. Ah, that's good to see. Butt just drops and runs. We don't do that nearly enough. The Pakistani who's the best at that is sitting in Karachi right now, playing for Habib Bank.

5:29 p.m. 35/0. Deficit is 92.

5:28 p.m. Farhat works Bollinger for two behind point. With an open face. Sigh. Even his runs make me nervous, Farhat.

5:26 p.m. What the fuck is Farhat doing? He's flashing outside off stump like this is Sharjah circa 1998.

5:25 p.m. Which is pushed into the covers for none. Nice batting there. If a guy is bowling well, you can't do anything but give him the respect he deserves, and tighten up. 33/0.

5:24 p.m. Siddle gets it too straight, and Butt taps him for two into the leg side. Just one more ball, come on.

5:23 p.m. Beats him again, as Butt is stuck on the crease. He needs to get through this over, Butt.

5:22 p.m. And now a hint of movement in. He's suddenly zeroed in, Siddle.

5:22 p.m. Peach. Siddle beats Salman outside off with one that just carries on with the angle. Can't do anything against those, except hope to miss 'em.

5:20 p.m. Bollinger, looking for that LBW, gets it too straight, and Farhat flicks him to midwicket for four. Uppish but safe. 31/0. The deficit is now under 100.

5:19 p.m. Farhat's looking very iffy here, moving well across his stumps and nudging it. How many times can a guy get LBW in the same series? I think we're about to find out.

5:18 p.m. You know, the Aussies have almost dropped as many as Pakistan in this series. I think it's about 6-3 or something, give or take a drop here or there. Anyway, the lead is exactly 100 right now, 27/0.

5:16 p.m. Dropped! Unbelievable! Siddle gets Farhat driving, it's a big nick to first slip where North puts it down. He dropped one at Melbourne too, didn't he? Haddin moved a little bit to his left, and he might've put North off, but you've got to take those. It was a nice height, and nice pace. "Pakistan-like" says Tony Greig, and he's right. Fortunately for them, Farhat is not good enough to make them pay, and will be getting out shortly.

5:15 p.m. The Aussies haven't found their lines and lenghts yet. How long before Johnson is brought into the attack?

5:12 p.m. Rush Hour 2 is on TV. God, Chris Tucker is unfunny.

5:09 p.m. Bollinger is getting some nip here, but the direction is currently lacking. Butt is leaving whatever he can.

5:08 p.m. And Salman works into the legside for a single. That's the over bowled, it's 24/0. OZ lead by 103.

5:06 p.m. Bang! Siddle drops it short, and Salman smacks it over the covers. Two keys today. One, will the Aussies try too hard, and thus bowl bad balls? And two, will our players be aggressive to punish those bad balls? On this pitch, you can get an unplayable ball at any time. You have to cash in while you're in.

5:05 p.m. Butt solidly forward.

5:05 p.m. And Butt leaves one outside the off stump, that swung more when it passed him than before.

5:03 p.m. It'll be Siddle from the other end.

5:03 p.m. Ok, I have no idea how, but somehow we've quickly moved on to 19/0. Did someone hit a boundary? Who knows? Farhat's on strike now.

5:01 p.m. God damn, my stream is already giving me issues. I do know there was a no ball there though.

4:59 p.m. And it's a good ball on the stumps that Butt taps into short leg. And the sun has made an appearance.

4:58 p.m. Anyway, it's Butt to face Bollinger first up. Alright, here we go.

4:57 p.m. I've got to say, Channel 9's production -- the intro music, the commentary, the replays, the set-up -- is all bloody awesome.

4:55 p.m. If you haven't read it already, check out Osman's excellent column on Asif.

4:54 p.m. I've disabled word verification for the comments today, to make it easier for the people following.

4:51 p.m. They say it's supposed to be sunnier today, but the pictures show a fair cloud cover. Our batting will be challenged. And think about this: if we couldn't cross 300 at Melbourne, which was about 14 times flatter than this, what are they going to do here? We can only hope for the best.

4:47 p.m. We're scheduled to get underway in about twelve minutes; it's an early start to make up for lost time yesterday due to rain. Pakistan's job today is to just bat. Don't worry about anything else -- the conditions, the score, the bowlers, the lead, the anything. Just bat.

4:45 p.m. In my humble opinion, yesterday was the best single day for Pakistan cricket since day 4 of the third test against India in 2006 at Karachi. Some may say the T20 World Cup was great, and I would agree, but test cricket is more important, and to skittle the Aussies out -- in Australia -- for 127 was just awesome. Of course, we could mess it all up today, but that won't take away from yesterday's performance. And yes, Mohammad Sami, I'm sorry for being mean.

Hello and welcome to Rs.5's coverage of the second day's play in the second test between Australia and Pakistan. As always, all times are local (i.e. Chicago).

Friday, January 01, 2010

Sydney Selections Sagas (Updated Below With News Of Aamer's Injury)

On to lighter things. I have a blog post on Dawn's website on our selection issues for Sydney: who comes in for Rauf, whether to play two spinners, and the whole Younis fiasco. Also, make sure to check the comments for the guy who calls me a jerk for being mean to Rauf. Come on, man. The dude looked positively amateurish and completely out of his league. It's not my fault he sucks.

UPDATE: Well, there you go. Aamer is out with a groin injury. The positives:

1. The test will be over quicker, so all of us will be more productive.
2. We were going to lose this test anyway because of our batting, at least Aamer will now be saved from having to endure another loss.
3. A heavy defeat may mean the return of Younis Khan for the third test.
4. We get to watch Sami again which, let's face it, can be a real treat.

Good times.

Welcome To 2010

Over 3000 people died in Pakistan in terrorist attacks in 2009. This happened on the first day of 2010.

AFP/Akbar Marwat

Dawn is reporting the
death toll to be 61, BBC is putting the number at 75. The target was a volleyball match, the cause being that the locals had organized a lashkar to turn back the heavy militant presence in the area.

Here's a short video from the BBC on the aftermath. Welcome to 2010, Pakistan.