It was one of those inexplicable, inexcusable and ignominious batting displays by Pakistan again. For the second time in the match, they were skittled out for their lowest-ever total, tamely handing the match and the series to Australia by a whopping margin of an innings and 198 runs.
This not only makes it one of the most one-sided Test matches in history, but also the first-ever in which Pakistan folded inside two days. It is also the fourth lowest-ever match aggregate, and the lowest in the last 57 years.
No other team has plumbed such depths in half a century and more, and this display of spineless batting on a wicket which, as the Australians had amply demonstrated, held no demons. Pakistan's second innings, which ended for a new low of 53, hard on the heels of their 59 in the first innings, lasted a mere 24.5 overs, 121 minutes. By comparison, man-of-the-match Matthew Hayden alone had spent 433 minutes at the crease!
Trailing by a massive 251 runs after the first innings, Pakistan again got off to a horrendous start, losing their first wicket without a run on the board for the third time in the series. Taufeeq Umar was run out in a terrible mix-up with Imran Nazir, and it set off a tide which was not to be stemmed till the rout was complete.
After punching a short ball from Brett Lee for four through point, Abdul Razzaq was hit on the arm. He was rushed to hospital, where radiology tests revealed a fracture in the wrist which forces him out for six weeks.
Younis Khan was leg before to Glenn McGrath, and then three wickets - Nazir, Misbah-ul-Haq and Rashid Latif - fell for four runs in the space of 18 balls to open up the tail. Once Shane Warne had Faisal Iqbal caught low down by Mark Waugh, who had already taken a superb diving catch to dispose of Latif, it was all over bar the shouting.
Warne took another two wickets, Shoaib Akhtar caught heaving on the off-side and an lbw verdict against Waqar Younis to spell curtains after catching Saqlain off Lee. The entire Aussie attack had the measure of Pakistan batting, but none more so than Warne, who took four for 13 to take his tally to 19 in the series so far.
Shoaib Akhtar neither produced an inspired spell nor took wickets in a bunch, promises he had made on the eve of the match, though he did account for Adam Gilchrist. It was left to the less glamourous figures of Saqlain Mushtaq (4 for 83 in 34 overs) and Abdul Razzaq (3 for 22 in 10.1 overs) to take the remaining five wickets and bowl out Australia for 310.
Hayden (119, 255 balls, 433 minutes, 9 fours, 1 six) made his ninth hundred in his 32nd Test, a chancy innings in a defensive mould but it served the Australian cause well, providing the anchor role which shut Pakistan out of the game.
Australia - who take pride in scoring at a fast clip even in Tests - started the day slowly enough to make a snail appear to be speeding dangerously on a highway. The first 16 overs produced only 24 runs, and when a boundary was finally scored in the second part of the session - Hayden guiding Razzaq to third man fence - it had come after 146 balls and 111 minutes. Although there was a flurry of boundaries in the second hour, only 70 runs came off 28 overs.
The strategy was obviously to break Pakistan in body and spirit, making them toil in the searing heat. Razzaq got his first wicket when Damien Martyn played an outswinger away from his body and guided the ball to Taufeeq, who deputised for Rashid behind the stumps throughout. Gilchrist was his usual aggressive self, pulling Kaneria for four and six before Akhtar came back for a second spell and had him caught behind off a wild slash. Hayden reached his hundred by lofting Kaneria over long-on for six.
From 261 for six at lunch, the Aussies lost four wickets in nearly an hour and a half in the middle session for the addition of only 49 runs. Hayden tried to hoik Saqlain against the spin, and Imran Nazir took a nice running catch off a top-edge. McGrath lasted just one delivery, as Razzaq trapped him leg before for his third wicket to bring the innings to a close.
Razzaq and Saqlain evenly shared the four wickets in the post-lunch session. Saqlain was the first to strike, having Shane Warne (19, 40 balls, 2 fours) caught at slip by Younis Khan after a couple of fumbles, while Razzaq got rid of Lee leg before. But the Aussies were in an impregnable position by then.