At P. Saravanamuttu Stadium, Colombo, October 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 2002. Australia won by 41 runs. Toss: Australia.

A marvellous contest fell Australia's way on the last day after a feisty young Pakistan team almost conjured a miracle. The Australians had dominated until, in their second innings, a breathtaking spell of five wickets in 15 balls by Shoaib Akhtar turned the tide. Set a difficult 316 to win on the final two days, Pakistan were in striking distance at 187 for three. But against unremitting bowling they fell short.

The Australians had shown a touch of paranoia over the pitch after Waqar Younis said he hoped it would be prepared to suit Pakistan. Steve Waugh insisted this was disgraceful - he would never ask for a certain type of surface, let alone admit to it in public. But there were no demons in it, anyway.

Batting first after winning the toss, Australia piled on a formidable 467 after an inspired, chanceless 141 from Ponting, who enjoyed the relative anonymity of merely batting at first-drop after his stint as captain in the preceding Champions Trophy. Only Shoaib's characteristic old-ball assault prevented a score well above 500; under the blowtorch of reverse swing at nearly 100mph, the last five wickets fell for ten runs.

In reply, the inexperienced openers did not contribute a single run and, with Warne showing the benefits of his new fitness regime, Pakistan only just avoided the follow-on. Faisal Iqbal danced down the wicket to carve Warne through the off side on his way to a run-a-ball 83, which went some way to vindicating Pakistan's youth policy. Rashid Latif backed him up with 66, but Warne, indefatigable, wheeled away in the heat to take seven for 94.

The third day belonged to a very different bowler. At one point Australia had reached 61 without loss, and seemingly had the match in hand. But the charismatic Shoaib returned to bowl an unplayable second spell. He ripped the heart out of the innings, grabbing three prize wickets in four balls - Ponting and the Waughs - and in his next over a yorker from round the wicket smashed Gilchrist's stumps before he could complete his stroke. The contest was re-ignited. With Saqlain Mushtaq spinning his way to four for 46, Australia were humbled for 127. Of Shoaib's memorable five for 21, three were bowled, two trapped lbw. It was one of Test cricket's greatest short spells.

By tea on the fourth day - before the last session was lost to rain - Pakistan needed only 137 more for a famous victory. Their left-handed opener Taufeeq Umar, a young player unfamiliar to the Australians, had hammered 88 with a string of delightful drives and pulls, while Australia suffered a fit of uncharacteristically error-riddled fielding. They would spill seven catches in the match, and even the lithe Mark Waugh could not handle relatively simple slip chances. The lapses added to the growing pressure on him, though his first-innings 55 had made him the 11th batsman to pass 8,000 Test runs. But Australia called on their renowned toughness. At 230 for four, needing just 86, Pakistan were within a breath of triumph. However, their opponents simply piled on the pressure until the dam wall burst. The pivotal moment was Warne's dismissal of Younis Khan for an elegant 51. Five wickets then tumbled for 26 to McGrath and Gillespie with the new ball. Though Gillespie broke down with a calf strain, a few balls later Faisal spooned a catch to Ponting at backward point and it was all over. Once again, Australia's old firm of Warne, who took 11 wickets in total, and McGrath had performed heroically when it mattered most.

Man of the Match: S. K. Warne.

Close of play: First day, Australia 330-5 (Martyn 6, Gilchrist 1); Second day, Pakistan 210-5 (Faisal Iqbal 78, Rashid Latif 30); Third day, Australia 127; Fourth day, Pakistan 179-3 (Younis Khan 32, Misbah-ul-Haq 4).