Third Test Match

Pakistan v Bangladesh

Utpal Shuvro


At Multan, September 3, 4, 5, 6, 2003. Pakistan won by one wicket. Toss: Bangladesh. First-class debut: Yasir Ali. Test debuts: Farhan Adil, Salman Butt.

Inzamam-ul-Haq played one of the innings of his life to save Pakistan from humiliation and break Bangladeshi hearts. On the third afternoon, Bangladesh's first Test win, so desperately longed for during three years of demoralising defeat, was within touching distance. On a pitch helping seamers, Pakistan were 132 for six - still 129 short of victory.

But Inzamam stood firm for five hours 17 minutes, and his unbeaten 138 guided Pakistan home. It was only the tenth one-wicket win in Test history, and Inzamam had now been at the crease for two of them. While the 1994-95 victory over Mark Taylor's Australians came at Karachi, this triumph was in front of his home crowd, who showered him in rose petals as he left the field.

It was cruel for Bangladesh. They dominated from the word go, and despite Inzamam's heroics might still have won, given a bit more luck. But things went against them on the fourth morning. First, Hannan Sarkar at second slip dropped Shabbir Ahmed on nought. It was perhaps the most costly miss in Bangladesh's short Test history: Shabbir and Inzamam went on to add 41 for the eighth wicket.

Later, with 49 now needed, eight wickets down and Inzamam farming the strike, the No. 10 Umar Gul survived a run-out despite being beaten by a direct hit. The crestfallen bowler, Mohammad Rafiq, had brushed the stumps and dislodged the bails before the ball struck. In the same over, Rafiq sportingly chose not to run out Gul when he was backing up too far. By the time Gul was finally run out, after a bad call from Inzamam, they had added 52. Gul's contribution was five.

Four runs were now needed, five balls remained in the over and the No. 11 coming to the striker's end was Yasir Ali - a 17-year-old on first-class debut, with only a handful of junior games and a hurried lunchtime batting lesson from Javed Miandad, the Pakistan coach, behind him. But Yasir kept out three balls and then tickled a single into the leg side. Off the last delivery of the over, Inzamam flicked the winning boundary. Ramiz Raja, the former Test batsman, now chief executive of the PCB, called it "one of the best Test innings of modern times". That might have been a little overblown, but Inzamam's concentration had been steely and his hitting authoritative. Supporters rushed on to the field to hug their local hero.

For this final Test, Pakistan had made five changes, three of them enforced: Shoaib Akhtar had returned to Durham, while Shoaib Malik and Taufeeq Umar were injured. But the decision to rest Yousuf Youhana and Danish Kaneria, and to include three debutants, raised a few eyebrows. Pakistan nearly paid the price.

After two placid wickets in Karachi and Peshawar, the Multan pitch had a hint of grass, and the pace bowlers found considerable movement. Given the conditions, Bangladesh's batsmen did very well to reach 281, after Khaled Mahmud made the brave decision to bat first. Habibul Bashar hit 72 - his fourth innings of fifty-plus in the series - and again led the way. However, Shabbir Ahmed took three wickets in six balls to mop up the tail rapidly.

The Bangladeshi bowlers did even better than their batsmen. Pakistan were restricted to 175: Mahmud, whose form had been lousy, seamed the ball around and took the first four wickets to fall. After that, Mohammad Rafiq, with another five-wicket haul, took over. Just before tea on the second day, Bangladesh had a lead of 106 runs - and every right to start dreaming of victory.

But Pakistan fought back, dismissing them for 154 in a second innings twice delayed by sand storms. However, the biggest tumult involved Pakistan's captain and wicketkeeper, Rashid Latif. After diving to catch an edge from Alok Kapali, Latif claimed a catch. The umpires, who were unsighted as Latif rolled over on landing, gave it out. But TV replays clearly showed the ball briefly dropping out of Latif's gloves and on to the ground as he tumbled. The Bangladesh team management lodged a complaint to match referee Mike Procter, and Latif was later banned for five one-day internationals.

His temporary replacement was - almost inevitably - Inzamam. Having begun the series battling for a place in the side, he ended it with his career revived.

Man of the Match: Inzamam-ul-Haq.

© John Wisden & Co