Third Test


At Lahore, November 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Drawn. Toss: Pakistan. Test debut: P. A. Emery.

Again, Salim Malik led from the front to extricate Pakistan from the mire while Australia won everywhere but on the scoreboard. And they had no-one but themselves to blame after dropping another five catches, four of them in the first innings after Malik chose to bat on a pitch which was soft on top and slower than expected. Malik's choice was effectively made for him when Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis withdrew at the last minute, officially after failing fitness tests but prompting speculation of dressing-room conflict. This left the attack in the hands of Aqib Javed and Mohsin Kamal - playing his second Test after a seven-year gap. The Australians also had their troubles - Healy had fractured his left thumb and Steve Waugh damaged his shoulder in the triangular one-day tournament. Phil Emery flew out to make his debut, but he too had his thumb badly bruised.

Given their delight at beating Pakistan in the limited-overs final two days earlier, the Australians made an untidy and unconvincing start to their bid to square the series and never recovered from the lapses on the first two days. Inzamam-ul-Haq, missed on one, finished with 66, Ijaz Ahmed, controversially recalled after some limited-overs successes, was also reprieved on on his way to 48, while Moin Khan, replacing the injured Rashid Latif, was put down on 51 and 70. He eventually scored his first Test century - an undefeated 115 with 13 fours and three sixes as Pakistan reached a healthy 373. Nevertheless, Australia still managed their third solid first-innings lead of the series - this time 82, through half-centuries from Slater, Mark Waugh, the remarkably consistent Bevan and - despite having played so little cricket on the tour - Langer.

A rejuvenated McGrath then cut a swathe through Pakistan's brittle top order to provide Australia with another chance of a famous victory. Indeed, Pakistan entered the final day only 55 ahead with five wickets standing. But again the belligerent Malik matched his wits with the bowlers, for a further three hours and ten minutes - after two hours' stubborn resistance on the fourth day - and scored another hundred. Along the way he cajoled Sohail into forgetting the stiff neck which forced him to wear a brace the previous afternoon, so persuasively that Sohail completed a century at No. 7, adding 196 in 215 minutes with Malik to dash Australian hopes. Not even Warne could break through, although he battled manfully for three for 104 and match figures of nine for 240, from a colossal 71.5 overs; fears were expressed for his right shoulder under such a heavy workload.

Man of the Match: Salim Malik

Men of the Series: Pakistan - Salim Malik; Australia - S. K. Warne.

Close of play: First day, Pakistan 255-5 (Ijaz Ahmed 35*, Moin Khan 39*) Second day, Australia 107-2 (M. J. Slater 60*, P. A. Emery 0*); Third day, Australia 344-5 (J. L. Langer 38*, S. K. Warne 7*); Fourth day, Pakistan 137-5 (Salim Malik 59*, Aamir Sohail 4*).

© John Wisden & Co