Steve's gamble pays off against Pak

Published: Thursday, November 18, 1999, 5:30 [IST]
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Hobart: Australia were in a commanding position after the first day of the second cricket test against Pakistan at Bellerive oval today. Already leading 1-0 in the best-of-three series, Australia continued to stamp their authority on the Pakistanis and restricted the tourists to a modest first innings total of 222.

Australia then put on 29 without loss by the close of play. "If we have a good day tomorrow I think we can win the series,'' Australian captain Steve Waugh said. ''If we get a good first innings lead we should win the test.'' Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne and paceman Scott Muller bagged three wickets each while Glenn McGrath and Damien Fleming collected two apiece in Pakistan's innings.

Pakistani opener Mohammad Wasim played a lone, defiant hand, scoring 91 to prop up the innings as his team mates fell by the wayside. Just two of his countrymen, Azhar Mahmood and Wasim Akram, managed to make it past 20. Australia's first-day performance was a triumph for Waugh, whose leadership skills are maturing by the day. He defied conventional wisdom by going into the match with three pace bowlers on a Bellerive oval wicket which traditionally favours spin and seam bowling, picking the inexperienced Muller ahead of local all-rounder Colin Miller.

Waugh also gambled by sending the Pakistanis in to bat after winning the toss for the second time in the series, even though the visitors' batsmen had been in great form in their warm-up game against state side South Australia. ''I think it was the right decision. There was a bit in the wicket, it was pretty moist underneath the surface,'' Waugh said.

''We probably didn't bowl as well as we should have but we're happy with 222.'' Waugh's decisions paid off quickly as McGrath rocked the Pakistan top order by taking two wickets in his first six overs to join Dennis Lillee, Shane Warne and Craig McDermott as the only Australians to take at least 250 test wickets.

The lanky strike bowler dismissed first test century maker Saeed Anwar for a duck in the third over of the day, caught by Warne at first slip, then claimed Ijaz Ahmed for six when he fended a short delivery to Michael Slater at gully. His only indiscretion was to drop a difficult catch when Mohammad was on 49, spilling the chance at mid-on and allowing the Pakistani opener to scramble through for his third test 50.


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