|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
At Hobart, November 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. Australia won by four wickets. Toss: Australia.
Australia achieved an extraordinary victory to secure the series, registering the third-highest fourth-innings total to win a Test match. They had been on the ropes at 126 for five, but Langer and Gilchrist put on 238 in 59 overs, a sixth-wicket record by any country against Pakistan, to take their side to within five runs of their goal.
The win was not without controversy. Umpire Parker's refusal to judge Langer caught at the wicket in the first hour of the final morning left Wasim Akram, Pakistan's captain and also the unlucky bowler, almost incandescent with rage. A breakthrough then would have made Pakistan strong favourites. Unfortunately, it was already public knowledge that Parker had apologised to Langer the previous day for giving him out wrongly in the first innings, and in Pakistani minds it all added up to a suspicion that they were not getting a fair rub of the green. Certainly, neither the situation nor the umpire was helped by the fact that, as in Brisbane, the "snickometer" reading was played over and over on the ground television screen and appeared to indicate some contact. Replays of debatable decisions were shown much too frequently. After this latest incident, series referee Reid concluded that they were undermining the umpires and took action to limit their use. Before the final Test the ACB drew the line at one slow-motion replay and one at normal speed.
Waugh again put Pakistan in, declaring that the days when captains won the toss and almost always batted were over. He looked to have got it right when Pakistan were all out for 222, an hour after tea on the first day. McGrath, always hostile and accurate, claimed his 250th Test wicket to leave Pakistan 18 for two, and only Mohammad Wasim, severe on Warne early on, successfully carried the fight to the Australian bowlers, hitting 12 fours.
Slater and Blewett again set up Australia, having survived a torrid late-afternoon start against Wasim and Shoaib Akhtar. But it was guile rather than brute pace that effected a remarkable transition on the second day. Australia had reached 191 for one with Slater, dropped three times, three runs away from centuries in successive Tests when he pulled Saqlain Mushtaq high to mid-wicket. It was Slater's seventh dismissal in the 90s in Tests and opened the way to a remarkable spell of spin bowling. With his "wrong 'un" causing mayhem, Saqlain - fit again and preferred to Mushtaq Ahmed - took six for 17 in eight overs. Fleming narrowly averted a hat-trick in a three-wicket over, and Australia lost nine for 55, their lead restricted to 24. Saqlain's six for 46 were his best Test figures, while Gilchrist provided him with his 100th wicket in his 23rd Test. Waqar Younis contributed two wickets and brought memories flooding back when Ponting shouldered arms to a trademark in-swinger timed at 90mph.
Warne produced something special himself on the third day, pitching in the rough outside the left-handed Saeed Anwar's off stump and hitting leg. By then, though, Anwar had given Pakistan a good start, and Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam-ul-Haq improved on it with 134 runs in 34 overs. Inzamam's century belied his reputation for plodding between the wickets: more than a stone lighter thanks to a new training regime, he ran and ran and ran. His unbeaten 116 at the close contained nine threes as well as 12 fours, but next morning he added only two runs before Mark Waugh took an astounding catch at slip, holding on to a fierce top edge as the ball passed him.
It took Australia almost until lunch to capture the last two wickets, leaving them just over five sessions in which to score 369. Shoaib had Slater caught at slip early in the afternoon off a ball measured at 95mph, the fastest legitimate delivery of the series. The full toss that jammed Langer's index finger against his bat handle was quicker but a no-ball. Azhar Mahmood's double strike just before tea put him on a hat-trick, and by the close Australia still needed 181 with their last recognised batsmen at the wicket. The bookmakers were offering 9-1 against them winning. Ponting, on his home ground, had been dismissed for his third nought in a row.
Wasim's curiously negative approach to the first hour's play on the final day allowed Langer and Gilchrist to gain the ascendancy. Saqlain could not repeat his feats of the first innings, and Waqar appeared handicapped by ankle trouble. Gilchrist's attitude to batting was so relaxed that his captain said of him, "He could be playing in his own back yard." His unbeaten 149 came off only 163 balls in four and a half hours, with a six and 13 fours. Langer, on the other hand, took more than seven hours (295 balls, 12 fours) for his 127. When it was all over, Waugh described the Test as one of the "great wins" of his career. Wasim was so distraught that he could not face the press and sent a messenger to say he was feeling unwell.
Man of the Match: J. L. Langer. Attendance: 20,754.