Cricket: Pakistan's last-wicket pair conjure up unlikely victory

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Australia 337 and 232

Pakistan 256 and 315-9

Pakistan win by one wicket

PAKISTAN beat Australia by one wicket in a sensational finish to the first Test in Karachi yesterday, and in the process preserved their unbeaten sequence of 31 Tests at the venue.

Their victory, thanks to an astonishing last-wicket partnership of 58 runs between Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed, was only the seventh time in Test history a side have won by one wicket. The closeness of it was shown by the final act. Inzamam offered a sharp stumping chance to Ian Healy off Shane Warne. Had Healy taken it, Australia would have won. He missed, Pakistan got four byes, and were victorious.

'I still don't believe it. This is my finest hour, winning my first Test as captain before my own fans,' Salim Malik said. 'With nine wickets down we had no hope, but Inzamam and Mushtaq turned the match our way with some very gritty batting.' Inzamam said he was overjoyed to have played 'the most unforgettable innings of my life'.

Salim's counterpart, Mark Taylor, was clearly upset at losing his first Test as Australia's captain. 'Apart from the first session on the first day we were ahead all the time, so losing after such a dominating show is very disappointing. But I am very proud of the way all the guys played,' he said.

One person who loved it all was the English umpire Dickie Bird, standing in his 60th Test. 'This is the finest Test match I have ever stood in, it was thrilling and could have gone either way,' he said.

The touring team appeared set to go one up in the three- Test series when Warne picked up four wickets to reduce Pakistan to 258 for 9 from their overnight score of 155 for 3. But Inzamam, who finished with 58 not out, and Mushtaq, who was 20 not out, frustrated all Australia's attempts to dislodge them.

Warne, who was named man of the match, took five wickets in the innings and eight in the match. He ensured that the final day began on a high note for the Australians with Warne trapping Akram Raza leg before with only two added to the overnight score. Basit Ali and Wasim Akram also fell cheaply to Warne and the opener Saeed Anwar was caught and bowled by Jo Angel for 77 to leave Pakistan in dire straits at 184 for 7.

But Inzamam and Rashid Latif refused to accept that their side's cause was lost. Latif, in particular, carried the attack to the Australians. He hit six fours in his 35 before Steve Waugh trapped him leg before with a slower ball at 236.

The Australians looked to have the match in their pockets when Warne dismissed Waqar Younis for seven - his fourth wicket of the day - but Inzamam and Mushtaq had other ideas.

Their half-century partnership preserved Pakistan's remarkable record in Tests at Karachi's national stadium. They have not lost there for 35 years, winning 15 and drawing 16 games.

The Pakistani selectors have included batsman Aamer Malik in a 14-strong squad for the second Test, which starts in Rawalpindi on Wednesday. Aamer comes in for Basit Ali, who suffered a groin injury that will force him to miss the rest of the Test series against Australia and the triangular series of one-day matches involving South Africa.

Australia won toss

AUSTRALIA - First Innings 337 (M Bevan 82, S Waugh 73, I Healy 57)

PAKISTAN - First Innings 256 (S Anwar 85)

AUSTRALIA - Second Innings 232 (D Boon 114, M Waugh 61; Wasim Akram 5-63, Waqar Younis 4-69)

PAKISTAN - Second Innings Saeed Anwar c and b Angel 77 Aamir Sohail run out 34 Zahid Fazal c Boon b Warne 3 * Salim Malik c Taylor b Angel 43 Akram Raza lbw b Warne 2 Basit Ali lbw b Warne 12 Wasim Akram c and b Warne 4 Inzamam-ul-Haq not out 58 Rashid Latif lbw b S Waugh 35 Waqar Younis c Healy b Warne 7 Mushtaq Ahmed not out 20 Extras (b4 lb13 nb3) 20 Total (for 9) 315

Fall: 1-45 2-64 3-148 4-157 5-174 6-179 7-184 8- 236 9-258.

Bowling: McGrath 6-2-18-0; Angel 28-8-92-2; S Waugh 15-3-28-1; May 18-4-67-0; Warne 36.1- 12-89-5; M Waugh 3-1-4-0.

Umpires: Khizar Hayat and H D Bird (Eng).

(Photograph omitted)