Third Test Match


At Lahore, March 19, 20, 21, 23, 24. Drawn. A fine and fluctuating match, marred by acres of almost empty terraces at the huge Gaddafi Stadium, finished in a draw through inept batting by Pakistan's middle order in the final innings. Needing 243 to win, Pakistan were carried to a position from which victory was nearly a formality by a perfectly paced partnership between Mohsin and Shoaib: when Shoaib fell to Cowans in the sixth of the final twenty overs, the target had shrunk to 70 at 5 runs an over. But impetuous batting came to England's rescue. When, in the twelfth of the last twenty overs, Zaheer, Mohsin, and Wasim got themselves out to Cowans, six wickets had been cast away in threequarters of an hour; and with 44 still wanted, Sarfraz and Ramiz turned their attention to the draw that clinched the series. Credit was due to England for exploiting to the full a swiftly changing picture: far less so for their earlier blatant time-wasting to make sure their opponents received no more than their statutory 59 overs. At one stage, with Gower, Gatting and Cook constantly conferring over changes in the field, Cook and Marks, the spinners, shared seven overs in more than half-an-hour. Had England won, as it briefly seemed they might, the victory would have been more than they deserved.

There were few indications in the early stages that the match would go the distance. Though the pitch was true and slow throughout, England, after being asked to bat (there had been rain two days earlier), were indebted to a sixth-wicket stand of 120 between Fowler and Marks. In reply, Pakistan reached 99 for two. Indeterminate batting then cost them the initiative, so that by the third morning they were in danger at 181 for eight of a lengthy deficit. But the pitch was at last shown in its true colours by Zaheer and Sarfraz in a ninth-wicket stand of 161. Zaheer, batting with a runner (Shoaib) as a result of a thigh injury while fielding, showed that a player of outstanding ability can be almost as effective on one sound leg as most others can on two. Sarfraz, surviving a confident appeal for a catch at the wicket at 208, played with increasing confidence and vigour to reach (by 45) his highest score in Tests.

Gatting and Gower cleared England's arrears during a third-wicket stand of 137. But with Gatting run out and Qadir taking the wickets of Lamb and Randall in an over, Pakistan were on the scent of victory at 189 for five. Gower, however, helped by Marks, swung the match again, first shoring up the innings, then accelerating towards a declaration. In difficulties only occasionally against the googlies of Wasim and Qadir, Gower batted six and threequarter hours for his second hundred in successive Tests.

Shoaib had the satisfaction of helping Mohsin beat Pakistan's first-wicket record of 122 against England, shared by his father, Hanif, and Alim-ud-Din. But when he drove Cowans to mid-on, their brilliant start was wasted. Mohsin, fifth out driving Cowans to long-on, batted four hours twenty minutes for his seventh hundred in three years of Test cricket.

© John Wisden & Co