First Test Match


At Brisbane, November 9, 10, 11, 13. Australia won by an innings and 126 runs. Toss: Australia. Test debut: Salim Elahi.

After Warne's match-rigging allegations against Salim Malik, dramatic necessity dictated that the pair should confront each other at the Gabba. Warne dismissed Malik for nought, fourth ball, which was as satisfying in itself for Australia as the entire lop-sided result, achieved with more than five sessions to spare. On the first day Malik had made a splendid diving catch at mid wicket to dismiss Australia's captain Taylor, and had needed six stitches in split webbing on his left hand. By the time he walked out to bat at No. 8 in Pakistan's second innings, to sporadic abuse, with overwhelming defeat beckoning and his hand heavily strapped, all Australia had cast Warne in the role of avenging angel. Malik offered a hesitant leading edge against a slightly turning top-spinner and McDermott plunged to hold a low catch at mid-off.

The fielders' temperate reaction was testimony to Taylor's positive influence, but Warne, understandably, could not resist commenting after the match. "It showed that there is justice in the game," he said. Warne's match figures of 44-19-77-11 took his record in three Tests at the Gabba, a traditional haven for seam bowling, to 30 wickets at 10.40. Brisbane's extra bounce enabled him to make full use of flight and dip as well as turn. At times, by his own high standards, he did not bowl uncommonly well, but he did not need to, such was his psychological hold over the batsmen.

Australia spent the best part of two days making 463. Their batsmen were not at their smoothest and Pakistan bowled assiduously in enervating heat, none more so than the two youngsters, Mohammad Akram, a rangy out-swing bowler, and the 18-year-old off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq. Wasim Akram, as ever, bowled with great craft and Waqar Younis showed signs of rediscovering his in-swinger, even if, as one Australian batsman said, it was two yards slower, Steve Waugh scored an unbeaten six-hours 112, characterised by his singular method against short balls, jumping up and nudging where others would prefer to hook or avoid. He himself called it an ugly innings and he was missed twice in the eighties off Aamir Sohail's left-arm spin.

Pakistan, 40 for three on the second evening, capitulated to 97 all out, with Warne's morning's work amounting to six for 16 in 12.1 overs. Though temporarily denied Malik, his dominance was otherwise complete. Sohail - the only one to reach 20 - was stumped trying to sweep; Basit Ali was deceived by flight, Wasim by bounce; Moin misguidedly heaved to leg. The greatest culprit was Inzamam, who seemed more settled than most, but scooped suicidally to short mid wicket as he sought to lift Warne out of the ground.

Sohail's indignation fuelled a dynamic 99 when Pakistan followed on, and they had regained some respect at 217 for three on the fourth morning. Then Mark Waugh, brought on simply to allow Warne to switch ends, tempted Inzamam to spoon him to mid-off, and Pakistan's last seven wickets - Malik among them - duly fell for 23, with Australia securing victory after only 88 minutes cricket.

Man of the Match: S. K. Warne. Attendance: 23,639.

Close of play: First day, Australia 262-4 (S. R. Waugh 24*, G. S. Blewett 0*); Second day, Pakistan 40-3 (Aamir Sohail 17*); Third day, Pakistan 197-3 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 56*, Basit Ali 11*).

© John Wisden & Co