First published in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald on October 1, 1994
TAYLOR’S SPOT OF HISTORY: 0 AND 0
KARACHI, Friday: Mark Taylor’s mind must have been a vortex of conflicting emotions today as he became the first man to make a pair on his debut as Test captain, but his Australian team edged a little closer to what would be an historic victory over Pakistan.
David Boon’s mind was fixed resolutely on that win as he outlived two chances, a controversial incident involving Pakistani leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed and a hat-trick delivery from Wasim Akram to make 85 not out.
That innings redoubled in value near stumps when Australia’s cause was set back gravely by three rapid dismissals. Mark Waugh (61) was bowled by Waqar Younis to finish another century partnership with Boon, and Michael Bevan and Steve Waugh were shot out for ducks in consecutive balls by Akram in the next over.
Australia had lost 3/3 in six balls, and limped back into the dressing room at 5/181. But its lead is 262, and although the pitch remains firm, both Pakistani spinners were extracting significant spin. Shane Warne’s fingers are clicking, Pakistan’s batting is talented, but brittle, and a fourth-innings target of beyond 250 will surely be beyond its powers. More than two days remain.
It was another eventful, absorbing and frequently tense day at the National Stadium. Australia took the last three wickets of Pakistan’s first innings in just more than an hour in the morning to establish a first innings lead of 81
Australia’s second innings began disastrously when Taylor hung out his bat, latterly just an accoutrement, at a delivery angled across him in Waqar’s first over and wicketkeeper Rashid Latif accepted the catch. It was all that umpire Dickie Bird, who has witnessed plenty of tragedy in his record 61 Tests, could bear to formalise the dismissal by raising his finger.
Taylor had made only one duck in his 54 Tests before this match, and had never made a pair in first-class cricket. It will scarcely improve his humour to know that both Richie Benaud and Allan Border also made pairs while leading Australia. He has now made only one double-figure score in seven innings in tour, and his form, until now dismissed as the rub of the green, must now be officially a concern.
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