Cricket: Taylor in control

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The Independent Online
AN UNBROKEN 103-run second-wicket partnership between the Australian captain, Mark Taylor, and Justin Langer yesterday edged their side closer to their first Test series win in Pakistan for 39 years.

At the close of play on the third day of the Third Test in Karachi, the visitors, leading the three-match series 1-0, were 130 for 1 in their second innings, giving them an overall lead of 158. Taylor was unbeaten on 64 while Langer made a patient 45.

Earlier, Taylor's opposite number, Aamir Sohail, had been instrumental in guiding his side to within 28 runs of Australia's first-innings total of 280 with a gutsy 133. It was Sohail's fifth Test century and his second against Australia.

Despite suffering from a chest infection and high temperature, Sohail batted for a little under six hours and faced 272 balls. His innings was spiced with 18 boundaries and a six off the leg-spinner Stuart MacGill.

Sohail, 83 overnight, was the chief instigator of a face-saving 98-run seventh-wicket partnership with Wasim Akram after Glenn McGrath had left Pakistan reeling at 69 for 5 on Friday evening. The partnership ended when Akram was trapped leg before wicket by MacGill for 35. McGrath added the scalp of Shakeel Ahmad to finish with figures of 5 for 66. It was the 10th time in 40 Tests that he had taken five wickets or more in an innings.

Sohail's defiant innings ended with the second ball after lunch, when Langer took a spectacular catch at square leg off Colin Miller.

Australia suffered an early setback in their second innings, when Michael Slater, the architect of their first-innings total, went for 11. But then Taylor and Langer put the Australians firmly in control. Taylor had several anxious moments on the way to his 64, made off 178 balls. When he had reached just four runs, a Wasim Akram throw failed to hit the stumps at the non-striker's end with the Australian skipper stranded in the middle of the pitch.

Then on 25 he survived a close bat-and-pad decision off Arshad Khan. Television replays suggested the ball had taken the edge of Taylor's bat. He was let off yet again by Sohail, who spilled a chance at square leg when he had made 56.

His partner, Langer, played a watchful, patient innings, scoring his runs from 123 balls with just two fours and a six off Shakeel Ahmed.