Pakistan smells victory

Published: Sunday, November 21, 1999, 5:30 [IST]
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Hobart: All-rounder Azhar Mahmood seized two wickets in two balls as Pakistan enhanced their prospects of a series-levelling victory over Australia in the second test today. Mahmood dispatched Greg Blewett and Mark Waugh with his double strike to start a slump in which Australia, needing 369 to win, went from 81 for one to 126 for five.

Justin Langer, with an unbeaten 52, and wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist, who hit 45 not out from 55 deliveries, kept the home side in with an outside chance as they shared an unbroken stand of 62. Australia were 188 for five, still requiring a further 181 for victory, when play on the fourth day at Hobart's Bellerive Oval ended early because of bad light.

The Australians face a demanding task as only two sides have scored more runs in the fourth innings to win a test. India scored 406 for four in the fourth innings to beat West Indies in 1975-76 while Don Bradman's 1948 Australians made 404 to beat England at Leeds. Australia may yet salvage a draw, with heavy rain forecast for the final day's play. Pakistan, whose hopes of winning the test looked near to impossible after Australia dominated the first day and a half, moved to within sight of a remarkable victory after taking four quick wickets either side of tea.

Mahmood had Blewett caught behind by wicketkeeper Moin Khan for 29, then trapped Mark Waugh leg before with his next delivery. Off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, who began Pakistan's fightback with six for 46 in Australia's first innings, then claimed the vital wicket of Australian captain Steve Waugh for 28 when he held a difficult return catch after tea.

Pakistan captain Wasim Akram chipped in by capturing his 379th test victim when he trapped the out-of-form Ricky Ponting LBW for a duck -- his third in a row this series. Slater had been the first man out for 27 when paceman Shoaib Akhtar found the edge of his bat with a delivery which was clocked at 153 kph on the speed gun.


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