Cricket: Australian gambles rewarded

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Pakistan 222 Australia 29-0

AUSTRALIA WERE in a commanding position after the first day of the second Test against Pakistan at Bellerive Oval yesterday. 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.

Shane Warne and Scott Muller took three wickets each while Glenn McGrath and Damien Fleming collected two apiece. The Pakistani opener Mohammad Wasim played a lone, defiant hand, scoring 91 to prop up the innings as his team-mates fell by the wayside. Only two of his countrymen, Azhar Mahmood and Wasim Akram, managed to make it past 20.

The Australian captain, Steve Waugh, 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 the 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.

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 250 Test wickets.

McGrath dismissed 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. Muller, in his second Test, picked up his first wicket when Inzamam-ul-Haq dragged an attempted drive on to his stumps for 12. He then added the scalps of Mohammad and Moin Khan in the same over after lunch.

Warne and Fleming combined to mop up the tail, giving Slater and Greg Blewett just over an hour to start Australia's run chase.

First day of five; Australia won toss

PAKISTAN - First innings

Saeed Anwar c Warne b McGrath 0

Mohammad Wasim c Gilchrist b Muller 91

Ijaz Ahmed c Slater b McGrath 6

Inzamam-ul-Haq b Muller 12

Yousuf Youhana c M Waugh b Fleming 17

Azhar Mahmood b Warne 27

Moin Khan c McGrath b Muller 1

*Wasim Akram c Gilchrist b Warne 29

Saqlain Mushtaq lbw b Warne 3

Waqar Younis not out 12

Shoaib Akhtar c Gilchrist b Fleming 5

Extras (lb6, w3, nb10) 19

Total (72.5 overs) 222

Fall: 1-4, 2-18, 3-71, 4-120, 5-148, 6-153, 7-188, 8-198, 9-217, 10-222.

Bowling: McGrath 18-8-34-2; Fleming 24.5-7-54-2; Muller 12-0-68-3; Warne 16-5-45-3; Blewett 2-1-5-0.

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

M J Slater not out 16

G S Blewett not out 9

Extras (lb1, nb3) 4

Total (for 0, 16 overs) 29

To Bat: J L Langer, M E Waugh, *S R Waugh, R T Ponting, A C Gilchrist, S K Warne, D W Fleming, G D McGrath, S A Muller.

Bowling: Wasim Akram 6-2-13-0; Shoaib Akhtar 6-2-9-0; Waqar Younis 3- 1-4-0; Saqlain Mushtaq 1-0-2-0.

Umpires: P D Parker and P Willey