Second Test Match


At Hobart, November 17, 18, 19, 20. Australia won by 155 runs. Toss: Australia.

Australian fears that they were over-reliant upon Warne's leg-spin were eased at the Bellerive Oval. Warne broke a toe on the first evening - always a possibility against Waqar Younis's inswinging yorker - leaving Australia with only three specialist bowlers, all seamers. Even so, they achieved their second win inside four days. Taylor resourcefully bowled McGrath, Reiffel and McDermott downwind as much as possible, to conserve their energy, while using bit-part bowlers into the jabbing Tasmanian squalls. The bleak weather also ensured that three seamers would be sufficient. Even if the snow forecast for the third day never quite materialised, the Pakistanis could hardly have imagined more inhospitable conditions.

Australia's batsmen also struggled. Their first-innings 267 owed much to Mark Waugh, who failed to add to his record of eight centuries in 50 Tests, but undoubtedly deserved to. His first fifty was blessed with his usual grace and freedom of expression, despite shooting pains in his right leg. The regular fall of wickets drew a more cautious approach, but Healy astutely lofted Mushtaq Ahmed into the leg-side gaps. Mushtaq had his revenge on both, with Waugh falling when Ramiz Raja unexpectedly conjured up an excellent running catch over his shoulder at mid wicket.

Pakistan mustered 198 in reply as Reiffel and McGrath maintained a consistent length on a rain-touched pitch. Ramiz emerged with more credit, even if his persistent fifty mixed misjudgments with buoyant drives and pulls, and he was unfortunate to chip back a return catch as Reiffel made one pop.

A lead of 69 would not been secure if Australia had stumbled on the second evening. But Taylor and Slater batted brilliantly, their positive outlook in mind-numbing cold reaping 107 in 24 overs. In that brief period, the outcome was settled; next day, Taylor made certain by proceeding to 123. But otherwise it was Australia's turn to flounder against leg-spin. Mushtaq Ahmed finished with nine for 198 in the match, bowling with a childlike sense of fun and, in his appealing, occasionally a childlike absence of logic.

A target of 376 to win a Test had been achieved only twice. But once Sohail, who had retired overnight when McDermott struck him on the thigh, resumed, his captivating off-side driving helped Pakistan make a decent start at 132 for two. Then their last eight fell for 88, a sequence beginning with Blewett's first Test wicket. At the betting booth on the ground. Blewett had been offered at 500 to 1 (odds with enormous resonance for Australian cricket since Headingley 1981) to take the next wicket. An ice-cream seller, spotting him loosening up, could not resist this. So when Sohail chipped his third ball, delivered at innocuous medium-pace, to mid wicket, it was debatable whether the bookmaker or the batsman was the more peeved. Sohail rehearsed the shot with such vehemence as he strode off that he dropped the bat, an incident he paid for heavily when referee Raman Subba Row fined him half his fee and added a two-match suspended sentence. Pakistan's final downfall was engineered by McGrath, who had Wasim Akram athletically caught by Blewett at mid-on before making quick work of the tail with the new ball.

Man of the Match: M. A. Taylor. Attendance: 18,068.

Close of play: First day, Pakistan 33-2 (Aamir Sohail 15*, Ramiz Raja 4*); Second day, Australia 107-0 (M. A. Taylor 42*, M. J. Slater 62*); Third day, Pakistan 15-0 (Salim Elahi 7*, Ramiz Raja 6*).

© John Wisden & Co