Mohammad Asif took three wickets in a dramatic burst either side of tea as Australia finished on 229 for nine when bad light forced an early close on the first day of the first Test against Pakistan at Lord’s here on Tuesday.


Asif took three wickets for no runs in seven balls on his way to a return of three for 53 in 17 overs.

Meanwhile teenage left-arm quick Mohammad Aamer, his new ball-partner, made the early inroads on his way to a haul of three for 66 in 18 overs.

Australia’s batsmen all struggled after Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi won the toss and elected to field in overcast, seam-bowler friendly, conditions.

Only left-handed opener Simon Katich, who made 80 but might have been lbw for two, had so far got past fifty although Michael Hussey was 39 not out, with Doug Bollinger unbeaten on nought, at stumps.

Asif struck with the last ball before tea when he had Clarke lbw for 47 to end a third-wicket stand worth 120 with Katich.

And nine balls after the break, Katich pushed uncertainly outside off-stump against Asif and was caught behind by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal for 80.

Katich, who has scored fifty in each of his last nine Tests, faced 138 balls with nine fours in more than three hours at the crease.

By contrast, three balls later, Marcus North, also a left-hander, was clean bowled between bat and pad by an Asif inswinger for nought.

Hussey pulled Kaneria for six to bring up the 200.

But Australia were 208 for seven after Test debutants Tim Paine (seven) and Steven Smith (one) fell cheaply to Umar Gul and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria respectively.

Young Aemer on form

Pakistan, bidding for their first Test win over Australia in 15 years, saw Aamer, who starred in last week’s back-to-back wins over the Aussies at Edgbaston, strike first when he dismissed opener Shane Watson for four to leave Australia eight for one.

The 18-year-old had already had one close lbw decision against Katich, then on two, rejected when he rapped Watson, playing no stroke, on the pad.

English umpire Ian Gould turned down that appeal but next ball Watson again, curiously, padded up.

Gould was in the process of giving him out lbw when the ball trickled onto the stumps and dislodged a bail, meaning Watson was out bowled.

Watson’s exit brought Australia captain and star batsman Ricky Ponting to the crease in what could be the 35-year-old’s last Test at Lord’s.

Ponting, along with India’s Sachin Tendulkar and the West Indies’ now retired Brian Lara, the other two outstanding batsmen of the last decade, had yet to make a Test century at the ‘home of cricket’.

He had made 26 when he clipped Aamer firmly off his pads only for debutant Umar Amin to take an excellent catch at short-leg.

Aemer collides with Ponting

A jubilant Aamer collided with Ponting as he celebrated, just as he’d done when dismissing Clarke in the second Twenty20.

But whereas Clarke patted Aamer on the back, Ponting reacted angrily.

The Aamer/Amin combination almost accounted for Clarke, then on four, when the short-leg failed to hold a tough chance.

This is the first of a two-Test series being played in England because international cricket was suspended in Pakistan following the armed attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in March last year.

This match was also the first time a ‘neutral’ Test had been played in England since the 1912 triangular tournament where Australia and South Africa, along with England, made up the competing teams.

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A group of 27 Chinese advertising agencies have sent Google a letter calling for talks over compensation for possible business losses if the Internet giant pulls out of the country.


The letter, confirmed Wednesday by Google and one of the agencies, complained that the US firm had kept them in the dark about whether it plans to make good on a threat to leave China over censorship and cyberattacks.

The 27 advertising resellers complained Google has had no consultations with them since it said in January it was considering pulling the plug on, its Chinese search engine.

A copy of the letter was posted on the website of state-run China Central Television (CCTV).

“The only thing we can do is to wait — in unbearable agony and anxiety,” the agencies said in the letter.

“If Google tells us now that we, our clients, employees and investors have to bear the commercial risks of their business move… we absolutely cannot accept it!” they said.

An official with one of the companies listed on the letter told AFP on condition of anonymity that the firm had signed the letter.

The letter was sent this week to John Liu, a Google vice president who oversees sales and business development in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Google China spokeswoman Marsha Wang confirmed to AFP the company had received the letter.

“We are reviewing it,” she told AFP, declining to provide further details.

The firms called on Google to open “immediate negotiations” with them to discuss possible compensation to clients, employees and investors.

Google has threatened to leave China over what it said were cyberattacks aimed at its source code and the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

In the interim, the company has continued to filter results on, but said it would stop eventually.

Beijing tightly controls online content in a vast system dubbed the “Great Firewall of China”, removing information it deems harmful — including pornography and violence, but also politically sensitive material.

The Financial Times reported at the weekend that Google was “99.9 percent” certain to move forward with plans to abandon, citing an unnamed source.

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Barcelona plans to be the first large city in Spain to ban the use of the full-face Islamic veil in public buildings, its mayor announced.


Jordi Hereu said he will sign a decree which will apply in all public spaces such as the city hall and municipal covered markets and creches.

“It should not be possible that someone enters into a place without being identified,” the Socialist mayor said.

He said the measure is not aimed at “any particular religious group” and would also apply to people wearing crash helmets and balaclavas.

Two other towns in the northeastern region of Catalonia, Lerida and El Venrell, have recently imposed bans on the use of the Islamic veil in public buildings.

Two more, Tarragona and Gerona, are considering similar measures, as is Coin in the southern region of Andalucia.

Spain’s conservative opposition Popular Party has said it plans to present a proposal in Catalonia’s regional parliament to ban the full-face veil in public places throughout the region.

Authorities in 11 mosques in Catalonia have vowed to challenge the bans in Spain’s Constitutional Court.

Immigration from Muslim countries has grown dramatically in Spain since the 1990s, with Catalonia in particular being home to a large community of Pakistani origin.

There are now about one million Muslims among Spain’s population of 47 million.

Last month, lawmakers in Belgium approved a draft law to ban the wearing of the Muslim full-face veil in public places, including streets — creating a controversial first for Europe, although it is still subject to a senate vote.

Debate is raging in France as well, where the cabinet has approved a draft law to ban the Muslim full-face veil from public spaces, opening the way for the text to go before parliament in July.

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The United States Wednesday voiced concern at the new criminal conviction and sentencing of a jailed Azerbaijani journalist and said the ex-Soviet republic had made a misstep.


“The United States is concerned by (Tuesday’s) court ruling” in Baku that sentenced Eynullah Fatullayev to a further two-and-a-half years in prison on criminal drug possession charges, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.

Echoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s concerns over freedom of speech in Azerbaijan during a visit to Baku on Sunday, Toner said Fatullayev’s conviction “is not a step in the right direction.”

Already serving an 11.5-year prison sentence since 2007 for allegedly writing about a massacre of Armenians by Azerbaijani soldiers during the war in Nagorny Karabakh in the early 1990s, Fatullayev was given an additional 2.5 years on Tuesday for drug possession.

Toner said the new charges were described by an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) representative as “highly improbable.”

The United States, he said, joined the OSCE representative “and others in calling for (Fatullayev’s) release.”

Toner urged Azerbaijan’s government to “fully respect press freedoms, including the right of reporters to investigate and freely publish…”

“As a partner,” he added, “the United States stands ready to assist the people and government of Azerbaijan in making the necessary reforms for democratic and economic progress.

“The conviction of Eynullah Fatullayev is not a step in the right direction.”

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An Australian schoolgirl attempting to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world said she “copped a pounding” during a fierce storm in which her yacht was repeatedly knocked under water.


Sixteen-year-old Jessica Watson faced the toughest conditions to date on her non-stop, unassisted circumnavigation when she endured hurricane-force winds and waves up to 10 metres (33 feet) high on the Atlantic Ocean on Friday.

“We certainly copped a pounding out here, but we came through it all OK,” Watson said in comments posted on her website on Saturday.

“It’s times like this when you realise why good preparation of the boat is so important. She handled it well.”

The storm came as American Abby Sunderland, who is five months younger than Watson, set sail from the US to try and break the same record. Sunderland congratulated Watson in comments posted on her blog as Watson rounded Cape Horn.

Watson left Sydney in her bright pink yacht “Ella’s Pink Lady” more than three months ago and during the storm passed the 11,000 nautical mile mark on her voyage.

The tempest was the first time the schoolgirl had experienced a “knockdown” — when the mast goes below horizontal and dives into the sea. The boat was knocked down four times during the eight-hour storm and sustained minor damage.

Watson, who was strapped into a seat throughout the ordeal, reported that the winds had abated by Saturday, the swell had dropped to a more comfortable three metres and dolphins were swimming beside her boat.

The Queensland schoolgirl’s supporters believe her 23,000 nautical mile journey, which she hopes to complete in eight months to break the record set by fellow Australian Jesse Martin, then aged 18, in 1999, is the maritime equivalent of conquering Mount Everest.

When Watson left Australia on October 18, controversy raged over whether she was too young and inexperienced to undertake the challenge after she smashed into a massive coal freighter during a test sail in September.

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