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Australia in command at MCG

A disappointed Watson walks off after falling just short of his century.
A disappointed Watson walks off after falling just short of his century.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Australia in command against Pakistan on 305 for three wickets on opening day of first Test at MCG
  • Openers Shane Watson and Simon Katich both fall agonisingly short of centuries
  • Captain Ricky Ponting out for 57 near the end of day's play
RELATED TOPICS
  • Australia
  • Cricket
  • Sports

(CNN) -- Australia were in command after the first day of the traditional Boxing Day Test against Pakistan at the MCG, but both their openers agonisingly missed out on centuries.

Simon Katich and Shane Watson put the Aussies on top in Melbourne with an opening stand of 182, but Watson is still waiting for his maiden Test ton after being run out for 93 in bizarre circumstances shortly after the tea break.

Katich went for 98 in the last hour before stumps with home captain Ricky Ponting, a doubt before the start through injury, also going for 57 in the final session.

It left Michael Hussey on 37 not out and nightwatchman Nathan Hauritz on five as Australia closed on 305 for three.

Watson had been dropped on 43, but was heading serenely to his first Test century and was seven short when Katich called him for a sharp run.

But after a mix-up, both men ended at the same end with the third umpire needed to decide who had got back to the crease first.

It was the unlucky Watson who was adjusdged out after his sixth half-century in 11 innings as an opener.

"It's just one of those things, there wasn't too much communication that went on there unfortunately," Watson told reporters at the close of play.

"I definitely knew it must have been me that was out because we both ended up the same spot and he came from that end. It wasn't destined to be today.

It's just one of those things, there wasn't too much communication that went on there unfortunately
--Shane Watson

"It took me a little while to calm down but you see the big picture, I'd definitely take 93 at the start of the day in my first Boxing Day Test."

Katich was just two short of his century when he cut a ball from Mohammad Asif (two for 69) straight to Salman Butt at backward point.

Ponting, who sustained an elbow injury in the final Test win over the West Indies in Perth last week, showed he had recovered with an attacking innings, lasting just 60 balls with seven boundaries.

But just as he looked set for a big score, the persistent Asif had him edging to Misbah-ul-Haq at second slip.

The catch was in contrast to Pakistan's poor fielding for much of the day with several opportunities put down.

With a weakened attack, missing late withdrawal Danish Kaneria, Pakistan also named tall paceman Abdur Rauf for just his third Test to replace Umar Gul who was forced out with illness.

Peter Siddle was recalled by the home side in place of fellow Victorian paceman Clint McKay after missing out against the West Indies with a hamstring injury.

Hauritz returned after a groin complaint.