CRICKET: Series win an Ashes omen

Australia 280 & 390 Pakistan 252 & 262 for 5 Match drawn
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AUSTRALIA'S FIRST Test series victory in Pakistan for 39 years makes ominous reading for England ahead of this winter's Ashes tour. The final Test ended in a draw in Karachi yesterday as Ijaz Ahmed, with 120 not out, and Moin Khan (75) rescued Pakistan from 75 for 4 by putting on 153 for the fifth wicket.

The Tasmanian pace bowler Colin Miller had taken three early wickets to put Pakistan in trouble, but the hosts recovered to finish on 262 for 5, having been set a daunting 419 to win.

Australia win the series 1-0 thanks to their victory by an innings and 99 runs in the first Test in Rawalpindi and Mark Taylor, their captain, said: "This is the one of the finest moments of my career. It will be a morale booster ahead of the Ashes and we will have our tails up for that series. Last time we played England at home four years ago we won the series 3-1 after having lost the series 1-0 to Pakistan. Now we have beaten Pakistan 1-0 so I am sure the result of the Ashes would be more convincing for us."

Australia's last series win in Pakistan was when Richie Benaud's side triumphed in Lahore in 1959-60. No Australian team had won a series on the subcontinent since Bill Lawry's tourists beat India 3-1 in 1969-70.

Taylor's men seemed in sight of a second win in the latest series only to miss two crucial catches. First Ijaz was dropped by Taylor off Glenn McGrath on two, while Moin got his extra life on 30 when Mark Waugh spilled a chance at slip off Stuart MacGill. But Taylor, named man of the series having scored 513 runs at an average of 128.25 including 334 not out, said: "This means a great deal for Australia, who had not won here for 39 years."

Taylor, who succeeded Allan Border as skipper, now has 24 victories in 45 Tests with 12 losses and has won 10 of the 13 series he has captained.

He added: "To break a barren run in Pakistan was at the back of our minds when the tour started and I owe all my fellow players cheers for this win. We could have won here but Ijaz and Moin played well and we dropped some crucial catches. There are no disappointments, though. It is one of the top wins of my captaincy career."

The Pakistan captain, Aamir Sohail, blamed poor fitness and missing players for the defeat. He said: "Fitness problems did not allow us to play at full strength and in future we will only play fully fit players."

Pakistan missed their strike bowler Waqar Younis, who missed the whole series with an elbow injury. Wasim Akram, assisting a match-rigging inquiry, missed the second Test and was not at his best in the final match. But Sohail praised Taylor's captaincy and said of the Australian team: "They are a very tough side and to beat them one needs to be mentally very tough. We were not."

Final day; Australia won toss

AUSTRALIA - First Innings 280 (M J Slater 96; Shahid Afridi 5-52).

PAKISTAN - First Innings 252 (Aamir Sohail 133; G D McGrath 5-66).

AUSTRALIA - Second Innings 390 (M E Waugh 117, M A Taylor 68, J L Langer 51; Shakeel Ahmed 4-91).

PAKISTAN - Second Innings

*Aamir Sohail lbw b Miller 25

Shahid Afridi c Healy b Miller 6

Ijaz Ahmed not out 120

Salim Malik lbw b Miller 0

Yousuf Youhana c M Waugh b MacGill 11

Moin Khan c MacGill b Lehmann 75

Inzamam-ul-Haq not out 21

Extras (2b, 2nb) 4

Total (for 5, 86 overs) 262

Fall: 1-20, 2-33, 3-35, 4-75, 5-228.

Did not bat: Wasim Akram, Arshad Khan, Shakeel Ahmed, Shoaib Akhtar.

Bowling: McGrath 18-11-40-0; Miller 25-5-82-3; MacGill 17-2-66-1; S Waugh 8-5-10-0; Robertson 16-2-56-0; Lehmann 2-0-6-1.

Umpires: D L Orchard (SA) and Riazuddin (Pak).