Hobart: Steve Waugh's Australians earned comparisons with Don Bradman's mighty 1948 invincibles after their astonishing four-wicket win over Pakistan in the second cricket test today. Chasing an improbable 369 for victory, Australia reached their target with four wickets to spare after Adam Gilchrist (149 not out) and man of the match Justin Langer (127) shared a record sixth- wicket partnership of 238.
Their victory earned the home side a winning 2-0 lead in the three-match series. The only other teams to have scored more to win a test in the fourth innings were India, who made 406-4 to beat west Indies in 1975-76, and Don Bradman's 1948 invincibles, who made 404-3 to beat England at Leeds. That celebrated touring side won four of five tests, drawing the fifth and dismissing England for 52 at the oval, still the lowest home score against the Australians.
Waugh said today's chase was the best he had ever seen in test match cricket. ''To win it so convincingly against such a good bowling team in the fourth innings was really a credit to the players for the way they played today.'' Official one-day world champions, Australia are also widely recognised as the world's best test team even though they have had trouble chasing small totals in recent seasons.
They collapsed to be all out for 111 chasing 117 for victory against south Africa four years ago and lost to England at the oval in 1997 when only 124 was required. They also slumped to a 12-run loss to England in last year's fourth Ashes test in Melbourne when only 175 was needed. Waugh said today's win at Bellerive Oval had proven his team could score runs under pressure. ''This is the sort of win we've been looking for, for quite a while,'' Waugh said.
''To come from behind and do the really hard work on the last day was a tremendous team effort. Pakistan captain Wasim Akram said Australia had batted magnificently. ''We tried our best, every bowler just worked very hard, but it was definitely their day,'' Akram said. Pakistan, who lost the first test in Brisbane by 10 wickets, looked set to level the series ahead of the final match in Perth starting on Friday when they staged a magnificent fightback with a second innings of 392.
Australia were in deep trouble at 126-5 on the fourth day before Gilchrist and Langer began their epic partnership. The two left-handers complemented each other as they smashed Bob Cowper and Tom Veivers' 35-year-old record for the highest sixth-wicket stand against Pakistan by 99 runs. Langer had scored just 96 runs in his previous five tests and was content to play the anchorman role.
'We never took it for granted, we just played it one ball at a time,'' Langer said. The swashbuckling Gilchrist brought up his first test hundred before lunch when he drove Waqar Younis straight down the ground for four. His 149 came off 163 balls in four-and-a-half hours and featured 13 boundaries and a massive six off Saqlain.
''I just tried to survive initially but my natural instincts to survive are to play aggressively,'' Gilchrist said. ''We've had four of the invincibles with us this week...supporting us and that's just been magic,'' he said. Bill Brown, Arthur Morris, Doug Ring, Bill Johnston of the 1948 squad watched the 1999 triumph.