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No cricket tour to New Zealand in recent years had attracted as much controversy as that of Moin Khan's Pakistanis. From the start it was overshadowed by allegations that Shoaib Akhtar, their young fast bowler, was throwing; it ended with the sacking of their coach, Javed Miandad, who was then reported as saying the one-day series had been fixed. It was later announced that Miandad had in fact demanded an inquiry into the team's poor performance "for purely cricketing reasons".
Pakistan's performances oscillated wildly from game to game; they possessed many fine players but, as a team, showed a predilection for the unexpected. New Zealand came from behind to take the one-day series 3-2. They were then crushed by 299 runs - their heaviest defeat by runs - in the First Test, only to square the series by recording their biggest win, by an innings and 185 runs, in the Third.
Moin missed that match through injury, which gave the Pakistan board an excuse to install Waqar Younis as captain for the ensuing one-day tournament in Sharjah; by the time Moin had recovered, he had been dropped from the tour of England. New Zealand's unflappable captain, Stephen Fleming, could be more confident about the future, although he too would be working with a new coach, the steady David Trist having already announced that he would be stepping down in June. Their often-criticised side ended a trying, injury-plagued season with a record of three wins, three losses and three draws from nine Tests. An appalling run of injuries - which at various times deprived them of Chris Cairns, Dion Nash and Daniel Vettori, among others - put pressure on their remaining mainstays, Fleming, Craig McMillan and Nathan Astle, to perform.
Pakistan were also ravaged by injury, and might still have won the one-day series and the Tests had Wasim Akram and Shoaib been available for every game. Shoaib blew New Zealand's lower order away in the first one-day international in Auckland, taking five for 19 to set up a six-wicket win. He then injured his right thigh in the next match, and in the series decider reached speeds of 151 kph (93 mph) before limping off again. Meanwhile, his action was questioned in the official report of umpires Steve Dunne and Doug Cowie. As Shoaib returned home to attempt to prove that it was legal, Pakistan officials said that his lack of fitness would have ended his tour anyway. Wasim also left after the one-day games, with a side strain; the experienced opening batsman, Saeed Anwar, injured an ankle and missed the Tests; and all-rounders Abdur Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood also cut short their tours. Star spinner Saqlain Mushtaq was reported to be on the verge of being sent home after one awful spell in the fourth one-day international but remained on the insistence of Miandad and Moin.
Saqlain was still the tourists' most successful bowler in the Tests, with 11 wickets, combining with debutant pace bowler Mohammad Sami to trigger a collapse of eight wickets for ten runs at Auckland. But they lagged some way behind the New Zealand fast bowler, Daryl Tuffey, who took 16 including seven in a match twice. Mathew Sinclair was the series' leading scorer, with 325 at 108.33, thanks to his second Test double-hundred, while the patient Mark Richardson demonstrated that he was a Test batsman of quality, forming a highly successful partnership with Matthew Bell; they averaged 88.80 over five opening stands. Yousuf Youhana also compiled a double-century, and the gifted Younis Khan, added to the party for the Tests, rescued Pakistan from disaster time after time. Collectively, however, their team's erratic form made it too easy for a now suspicious world to ask questions.
Match reports for
Tour Match: New Zealand A v Pakistanis at Lincoln, Mar 3-5, 2001
Tour Match: Wellington v Pakistanis at Wellington, Mar 22-24, 2001