Cricket: Pakistan rue Javed's lapse

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The Independent Online
THE West Indies resume the second Test here today after yesterday's rest day even closer to the victory that has seemed inevitable since they obliged Pakistan to follow on because of Javed Miandad's rash stroke in the last over of Sunday's play.

Pakistan, at 113 for 3, are 121 in arrears, having lost Javed, their most experienced batsman, to a dismissal that would have earned a schoolboy detention. With three balls left, he stepped out to Carl Hooper's off-spin and launched it over long-on for six. Next delivery, a similar stroke landed in the hands of Keith Arthurton at mid-wicket. It was an approach that further heightened speculation about Javed's future in a team in which he has been replaced as captain five times during his career, most recently by Wasim Akram in February.

Javed's position has grown tenuous even after a career that has spanned 120 Tests in 17 years and includes 8,658 runs at an average of 54. Now 35, he said he felt 'humiliated' by his latest rejection from the captaincy. He is known as a team man but, on this tour, the new leadership has seemed to distance itself from him, frequently posting him in the deep and seldom seeking his advice. The manner of his dismissal in his last three Test innings suggests his mind is not completely on the game.

In the second innings in the first Test, as Pakistan collapsed to defeat by 204 runs, he was caught behind to the third of three cut shots in the space of a couple of overs. In the first innings here he stepped back to spear a catch straight to third slip. Then came Sunday's last-over error. It seems Pakistan, on the verge of losing a series they had confidently expected to win, are also on the verge of losing their greatest batsman.