| Steve Waugh and Co. celebrate their innings and 20-run win after the fall of last-man Mohammed Sami in Sharjah on Tuesday. (AFP)
Sharjah: Australia completed a 3-0 series win over Pakistan Tuesday when they won the third Test by an innings and 20 runs with more than a day to spare.
The fourth day’s play was reduced to a formality after Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne had shared six wickets to reduce Pakistan to 176 for eight in their second innings at close of play on the third day.
Shane Warne, who finished the match with eight for 130 and the series with 27 wickets, was named Man of the Match and Man of the Series.
Pakistan, following on after conceding a first-innings lead of 223, still needed 47 runs to avoid the ignominy of crashing to a second successive innings defeat. They fell short as paceman Andrew Bichel, opening the attack with Brett Lee, removed both overnight batsmen to wrap up the innings.
Bichel forced an edge from Hasan Raza after the batsman had taken his overnight total from 56 to 68. Raza, who struck an unbeaten 54 in the first innings, hit 11 fours during his 154-ball career-best innings.
Bichel struck again to remove Mohammed Sami who top-edged to Damien Martyn for 22 after adding ten to his overnight score.
Aided by centuries from Ricky Ponting (150) and captain Steve Waugh (103 not out) Australia took control of the match by piling up 444 in their first innings. The world champions then dismissed Pakistan for 221 in their first innings to take a 223-run lead with McGrath and Warne sharing nine wickets.
Pakistan, following on, once again faltered in the face of the McGrath-Warne attack, who shared 41 wickets in the series. McGrath, who took his 400th Test wicket in the third Test, finished the series with 14 wickets.
Later, Australian captain Steve Waugh warned England that his team is ready for the upcoming Ashes series after completing a 3-0 whitewash of Pakistan Tuesday.
His Pakistan counterpart, Waqar Younis, rued the absence of several senior players but added that the youngsters who failed against Australia have the potential to match the best in business.
“It’s a big thing to play for Australia and we can never be complacent,” Steve said. It was Australia’s second successive innings win over their injury-hit rivals and highlighted the one-sided nature of the series.
Australia won the first Test by 41 runs and the second inside two days by an innings and 198 runs.
“I was a bit surprised we won the last two Tests so easily, but overall it was an excellent performance,” Steve said. “We are ready to go for the Ashes.”
Steve said he was delighted his team did not relax after winning the second Test. “There was a chance we may relax, but we worked hard every ball and produced a professional Test match win here.”
The Australian captain dismissed suggestions by his English counterpart Nasser Hussain that the 37-year-old Waugh twins, Steve and Mark, were the ones to target in the Ashes series.
“I think I am averaging about 59 against England, so have done quite well against them,” said Waugh. “You can say what you like, it’s what happens on the field which counts.
Steve said it was never going to be easy for Pakistan to come back in the series after losing the first Test.
“It’s never easy to pick yourself against a good side like ours,” he said. “There are no loose deliveries. Much like the West Indies side in the 1980s we keep coming at the opposition.”
Waqar, meanwhile, said veterans Wasim Akram and Saeed Anwar may return to the side. “I felt let down in their absence,” Waqar said.
“Wasim and Saeed said they were tired and needed rest, but with the World Cup so near, some of the older players have to come back and we have to give them some cricket before that.”
Akram and opener Anwar opted out of the Tests against Australia. Worse still, leading batsmen Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana missed the series due to injuries and allrounder Abdul Razzaq broke his wrist during the second Test.
Waqar said he and coach Richard Pybus will return home to meet Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Tauqir Zia and the selectors to discuss the defeat against Australia.
Asked if he agreed with a reported statement by the PCB chairman that Pakistan may soon have separate teams and captains for Tests and one-dayers, Waqar said: “If it is good for the team I am happy.”
“It was a tough series against the best team in the world,” Waqar said. “But I would not cry too much on it. We have to take the positives out of the series and look at the future.
“Some young players have emerged who are the future of Pakistan cricket and the experience of playing against Australia will have done them a world of good.
“I have faith in these youngsters and it was evident they need more cricket to match the best. Pakistan are capable of playing against any team, but playing against Australia was very tough,” Waqar said.
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