March 9, 2002

Pakistan face defeat against Sri Lanka: Hat trick by pacer Sami

Mohammad Sami became the third Pakistan bowler to record a Test hat trick but the home team was looking at heavens to save them from humiliation against Sri Lanka in the Asian Test Championship final at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Sami, who also grabbed up a hat trick in the second one-day international against the West Indies last month, dismissed tailenders Bhuddika Fernando, Nuwan Zoya and Muttiah Muralitharan on successive deliveries on either side of an extended first session to join Wasim Akram (2) and Abdul Razzaq who achieved similar distinctions against Sri Lanka in 1999 and 2000.

Interestingly, it was the third hat trick in the second edition of the tournament. But the youngster, playing ahead of veteran Wasim, adjusted to the conditions too late as Sri Lanka amassed 528 after having resumed this morning at 447 for five.

The reigning champions, trailing by 294 runs on first innings, then plunged into depths of despair when they finished the third day's play precariously placed at 193 for five as irresponsible batting once again leading to their plight.

Pakistan need another 101 to make Sri Lanka bat again on a venue on which the visitor won the 1996 World Cup. Meteorological department had predicted rain for Friday. Pakistan played 46 overs under lights, not a single drop of rain fell. But similar is the forecast for Saturday.

Sami finished with four for 120 and immediately said he was fortunate to get a hat trick. "I think the last ball didn't deserve a wicket. But then I must thank Muralitharan who dragged a wide ball onto his stumps," he said.

Sami was not the only bowler who went for century runs after bowling all over the place. Waqar Younis conceded 123 runs for one wicket while Shoaib Akhtar was lucky to grab two at the cost of 114 runs.

The best of the lot remained Razzaq who bowled within his limitations to end up with three for 82 off 29 overs. Shoaib Malik, playing ahead of Saqlain Mushtaq, bowled only 14 overs in Sri Lanka's 139.5-over innings spanning 653 minutes.

Sami trapped Fernando in front of the wicket in the last over before lunch and then returned to pin Zoysa against in front of the three sticks. He completed his hat trick when Muralitharan threw caution to the wind and dragged a wide delivery onto his stumps.

Sri Lanka's healthy 294-run first innings lead was always likely to play in the minds of the Pakistanis who traditionally cave in when put under pressure, This time too, it was no exception.

Shahid Afridi, who stroked a fluent 118-ball 70 with nine fours and a six, and Yousuf Youhana threw their wickets playing atrocious strokes. Afridi, who was hitting the bowlers at will, was foxed by Muralitharan and was stumped when he danced down the track to play a defensive shot.

Youhana, from whom a lot was expected, holed out to Marvan Atapattu at mid-on off Muralitharan who ended up with three for 39 to take his tally of wickets to seven in the match. Earlier Taufiq Umer lost his off stump playing a lazy defensive stroke off Chaminda Vaas while Younis Khan was brilliantly caught by Thilan Samaraweera at square-leg as he flicked Nuwan Zoyasa.

Abdul Razzaq too failed for the second time for the second time in the match when he was adjudged leg before off Muralitharan.

When stumps were drawn with seven overs still to be played, Inzamam-ul-Haq was batting on 38 while Shoaib Malik, dropped by Samaraweera off his own bowling when three, was six.