Australia's 1998 tour of Pakistan: 'It was one of our finest achievements to beat them'
Mark Taylor's side is one of only two Australian teams to have won a Test series in the country
Andrew McGlashan and Tristan Lavalette
Heading into the tour of Pakistan in 1998, Australia had not won there since 1959. That tour back then had been decided by a one-wicket defeat in Karachi. Adding to the challenge for Mark Taylor's team was that they were without the injured Shane Warne whose shoulder had finally given in after the tour of India earlier in the year. There was also the backdrop of the Qayyum match-fixing hearings which stemmed from Australia's previous visit in 1994.
1st Test, RawalpindiAustralia 513 (S Waugh 157, Slater 108, Lehmann 98, Healy 92) beat Pakistan 269 (Anwar 145, MacGill 5-66) and 145 (Malik 52*, MacGill 4-47) by an innings and 99 runs
There might have been concerns when Aamer Sohail, Pakistan's captain, won the toss and was able to bat first but Australia's attack were soon among the wickets. Glenn McGrath and Damien Fleming, playing together in a Test for the first time, took out the first three then there was a maiden Test wicket for Colin Miller, making his debut at the age of 34, when he removed Saleem Malik. "He was caught at second slip, low to Mark Waugh's side. Was nearly a wide, Saleem had to reach to hit it," Miller recalled to ESPNcricinfo.
Stuart MacGill, taking the legspin duties in the absence of the injured Warne and playing just his second Test, went through the middle and lower order to leave Pakistan 147 for 8. However, Australia were then held up by a 120-run stand for the ninth wicket between Saeed Anwar, who made a masterful century, and Mushtaq Ahmed who faced 136 balls at No. 10.
When Australia slipped to 28 for 3 in reply - Justin Langer and Mark Waugh collecting ducks - things looked dicey but from there the visitors dominated. Michael Slater and Steve Waugh added 198 for the fourth wicket then Waugh and Darren Lehmann built a lead with a stand of 126. When Waugh fell for 157, Lehmann got to within touch distance of a maiden century only to miss a sweep against Mohammad Hussain but Ian Healy's 92 swelled the advantage to 244.
Pakistan crumbled in their second innings. Fleming, who had taken a hat-trick on debut during the previous tour in 1994, trapped Mohammad Wasim and Inzamam-ul-Haq lbw for ducks while MacGill again did damage to finish with nine in the match. There was a landmark for Healy, too, when he claimed a world record 355th dismissal against Wasim Akram from the bowling of Miller.
"I had been bowling around the wicket for lbws, I was no chance to get them," Miller said. "Peter Willey was the umpire and told me to go over the wicket. I got one to turn and bounce and Healy took a really good catch. I have the photo of his catch in my office, which is signed by Heals.
"It was really important to stamp our authority in the first Test. I remember after the match we were going to sing the song but I didn't know the words. Heals wrote them down on a piece of paper."
2nd Test, PeshawarAustralia 599 for 4 dec (Taylor 334*, Langer 116, Ponting 76*) and 289 for 5 (Taylor 92) drew with Pakistan 580 for 9 dec (Ijaz 155, Anwar 126, Inzamam 97)
This was Mark Taylor's Test. After coming through an initially hostile spell from Shoaib Akhtar he went on to equal Don Bradman's 334 as the then highest score by an Australian in Test cricket - only denying himself the chance of setting a new benchmark by declaring before the start of the third day's play to put the team before his personal achievements.
"It was hot and humid, he was exhausted," Miller remembered. "We had to douse him in cold towels during the breaks. You have to be there to experience that type of innings in those conditions. He could have batted for another two days because no one looked like getting him out. He was in the zone. He wanted to declare and do it for the team as it was the best chance of a victory. I was hoping he would break the record for Australia."
In a column for Nine newspapers this week, Taylor wrote: "I did consider grinding Pakistan into the dirt by batting another 20 minutes in a seventh session. That's when the significance of Bradman's 334 at Headingley in 1930 hit me. I thought people may think if I didn't declare, it was to deliberately go past Bradman's score.
"I never played the game for individual records. You always play for enjoyment. Word filtered through our team, while Pakistan captain Aamer Sohail was surprised when I told him 30 minutes before play. A lot of others were, too. People thought I'd go for Brian Lara's world record of 375 but, truthfully, that didn't cross my mind.
"I think it's one of the best things I did, and I still have people ask me about it. I didn't stop on Bradman's score deliberately. That was a quirk of fate, but I'm delighted I did what I did because I think it does hopefully set an example of how sport should be played."
Taylor went on to add 92 in the second innings as the match drifted to a draw on a docile surface after Anwar and Ijaz Ahmed had plundered hundreds of their own. It gave him a match tally of 426 runs which remains the second highest in a Test behind Graham Gooch's 456 against India in 1990.
3rd Test, KarachiAustralia 280 (Slater 96, Afridi 5-52) and 390 (M Waugh 117, Taylor 68, Langer 51, Shakil 4-91) drew with Pakistan 252 (Sohail 133, McGrath 5-66) and 262 for 5 (Ijaz 120*, Moin 75)
The series concluded at a ground where Pakistan had not lost in 33 previous Tests. Both teams went with three frontline spinners (although Miller's versatility as a seamer gave Australia balance) and the ball held sway over the first two innings. Slater played with great restraint in making 96 off 257 balls - the second slowest of his Test scores over 50 - but Healy's 47 was the next best as debutant Shahid Afridi claimed 5 for 52.
However, Australia's 280 proved very competitive and a big lead was in the offing when Pakistan crashed to 69 for 5. Sohail found support from the lower order and complied a brilliant century but McGrath's 5 for 66 kept Australia ahead in the game.
Taylor laid the platform for what became a series-clinching second innings with 68 then Mark Waugh's century took Australia into an impregnable position alongside Gavin Robertson's useful 45 at No. 8 as they opted to bat out the fourth day rather than declare.
A target of 419 was never within the realms for Pakistan and Miller's burst early on the final day left them 35 for 3 with Australia sensing the chance to take the series 2-0. But Ijaz held firm, adding 153 for the fifth wicket with Moin Khan although Australia were more than content with the outcome.
"That Pakistan team was really strong with so many superstars," Miller said. "It was one of our finest achievements to beat them over there."