LAHORE-Pakistan inflicted a most comprehensive defeat on New Zealand, by an innings and 324 runs in the last over of the third day - the fifth largest win by any team. Outplayed thoroughly, the Black Caps were shot out for 73 and 246 to hurtle to their biggest defeat, which incidentally was Pakistan's greatest victory.
Devoid of its most potent weapon, the pace ace Shoaib Akhtar resting his swollen left ankle, the Pakistan attack still had enough firepower to bowl out the Black Caps. Following on 570 runs behind on the first innings, after being bowled out for 73, only three more than their lowest against Pakistan at Dacca in 1955-56, the Kiwis were given no respite. There never was any doubt about Pakistan's victory, just how soon and how big were the questions. Akhtar's absence only delayed the inevitable, and perhaps reduced the margin.
In the absence of Akhtar, leg-spinner Danish Kaneria rose to the occasion, helping himself to a five-wicket haul to spell doom on the Kiwis.
Inzamam-ul-Haq, whose 329 was the cornerstone of Pakistan's imposing total of 643, was named Man of the Match.
Skipper Stephen Fleming made a valiant 66 (124 balls, 199 minutes, 9 fours), and in a stand of 85 for the fourth wicket with Chris Harris (43, 91 deliveries, 4 fours) stalled Pakistan's victory charge for a while. But once Abdul Razzaq trapped Harris lbw - after he had lived a charmed life surviving a catch, a stumping and a dead sure leg before appeal by Waqar Younis - seven wickets fell in a bunch for just 60 runs to make it all over for the Kiwis.
In the second innings too, disaster struck early. Horne trying to paddle Younis' rising one on the leg side was caught of an inside edge by Rashid Latif. The Kiwis recovered from this blow, at least partially, with a stand of 66 between Mark Richardson and Lou Vincent. The two benefited from aggressive field placements by skipper Younis, with all fielders with the exception of deep square leg, inside the circle to pick up some easy boundaries, 10 between the two of them. This partial recovery was not to last, as Saqlain got Richardson playing a silly stroke, with Rashid catching the miscued skier.
Kaneria got Lou Vincent with a delivery that spun off his legs to take the outside edge, with Rashid Latif taking his third catch of the innings. So identical was his dismissal to the one in the first innings that one could have mistaken it for an action replay.
In the post-tea session, Younis bowled a superb, aggressive spell, reverse swinging the ball. He would have had Harris had Steve Bucknor upheld the appeal; the ball was going nowhere but straight to the middle stump. To the utter dismay of Kaneria, Rashid made two rare mistakes, missing a catch and then a stumping of Harris, at 30 and 33 respectively.
But once Razzaq had Harris, things turned around in dramatic fashion. Kaneria got into his act with a double blow in one over, his googly getting Craig McMillan leg before, with Hart completely missing him to get clean bowled. Three wickets in the space of seven deliveries and the chances of Pakistan wrapping it up before the evening had brightened considerably.
Vettori perished trying to turn Razzaq to square leg uppishly, with substitute Shoaib Malik taking the catch.
Next to go was Fleming, Mohammad Sami at short mid-on accepting the catch with unconcealed glee. At 8 for 227, only the last rites remained. And though it went to the last over of the day, but Kaneria and Saqlain made sure that they didn't have to turn up for duty on day four. Tuffey was done in by a spinning delivery as Younis took the catch at first slip to give Kaneria his five-wicket haul for 110, and Martin got himself a pair on the same day by giving Saqlain his second wicket.
The Black Caps tormentor-in-chief in the first innings, Shoaib Akhtar bowled only 8 deliveries on day three, took two wickets for no runs for a return of 6 for 11, his career-best figures, improving on his 5 for 24 a couple of months ago against the West Indies at Sharjah. The injury that he sustained tripping in his follow-through on the second day, made him unavailable, though it wasn't anything more than a swollen ankle.
Akhtar didn't show up as the play commenced in the morning, but only limped in looking for his five-for after Daniel Vettori was dismissed trying to slam Saqlain over long-on, only succeeding in holing out to Younis, who in the very next over got Robbie Hart leg before. Younis straightaway lobbed the ball to Akhtar, and having bowled an over to loosen up, he got Brooke Walker leg before first ball to get his fifth victim and brought the innings to a close on his next delivery, sending Chris Martin's middle stump cartwheeling with an inswinging yorker.
The four remaining Black Caps wickets had been fallen in just 10.2 overs, within the first hour. Akhtar's 6 for 11 was as hostile a display of pace bowling as any. He was bang on target throughout, five of his victims clean bowled, with three middle stumps, while the sixth was leg before. Akhtar was always fast, but it is this new-found accuracy which makes him such a dangerous customer, the one who well and truly inspires chill in the hearts of batsmen.