North’s ‘gentle’ spin rattles Pak to defeat
London: Part-time spinner Marcus North stunned record-chasing Pakistan with a maiden six-wicket haul as Australia won the first Test by 150 runs here on Friday.
North took six wickets for 55 runs in 18.1 overs as Australia, in the first neutral Test played in England since 1912, won with more than a day to spare.
Pakistan chasing a target of 440 that would have surpassed the highest Test fourth innings victory total of 418 for seven made by the West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2002/03, were bowled out for 289 before tea on the fourth day.
Victory gave Australia a record 13th straight successive Test victory over the same opponent, although Sri Lanka’s run of 12 wins in a row over Bangladesh is also still ongoing.
It also put them 1-0 up in this two-match series ahead of the second Test at Headingley starting Wednesday.
Pakistan were still in the game, albeit facing a tough task, at 186 for two with vice-captain and left-handed opener Salman Butt on 92 when North struck first ball after being brought on shortly before lunch.
North began with a seemingly wayward ball that drifted down the leg side.
However, Butt overbalanced out of his crease and was smartly stumped by debutant wicket-keeper Tim Paine.
Butt, whose 63 was the one contribution of note in Pakistan’s meagre first innings 148, had attacked when given the chance, with 15 boundaries, as well as defending correctly when required in nearly four hours at the crease.
Few other Pakistan batsmen had so far suggested they were capable of achieving a similar balance.
Umar Akmal hoisted North for six but, trying to cut, edged to Michael Clarke at slip and was out for an insubstantial 22.
Pakistan were 216 for four at lunch, with Umar Amin – one of four debutants in the match - 31 not out.
But the left-hander had added just two to his score when, after the interval, he was caught at short-leg by Simon Katich to give North, primarily a middle-order batsman, his third wicket.
And, four balls later, 227 for five became 229 for six when Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, on two, tried to slog North over midwicket but was instead caught on the boundary by Michael Hussey.
Even allowing for the fact this was Afridi’s first Test in four years and his preference for big-hitting, the shot appeared highly irresponsible, especially given his role as captain of a largely inexperienced side.
Pakistan were now all but out of the game, needing 211 more runs with wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal the only recognized batsman yet to be dismissed.
Both Kamran and Mohammad Aamer struck boundaries off North and debutant leg-spinner Steven Smith during a stand of 54.
But the sense was they were merely delaying the inevitable for a Pakistan side without senior batsmen Mohammad Yousuf and Younus Khan, suspended following the 3-0 series loss in Australia earlier this year.
And so it proved when Kamran (46), hitting across the line, was bowled by Smith and shortly afterwards Aamer holed out to give North his first five-wicket Test haul.
North ended the game when he had Danish Kaneria caught by Australia captain Ricky Ponting.
Pakistan resumed on their overnight score of 114 for one.
Butt was 58 not out and debutant Azhar Ali 28 not out.
Left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson gave Butt width outside off-stump and the batsman responded with four fours.
Johnson was replaced by medium-pacer Shane Watson, who took a Test-best five for 40 during Pakistan’s first innings.
But it was Ben Hilfenhaus who had Ali, pushing outside off-stump, caught behind for 42 to end a watchful two-hour innings.
Australia, in a match where batsmen found runs tough to come by, were indebted to opener Katich for scores of 80 and 83.
Katich was named Australia’s man-of-the-match, with Butt winning the equivalent Pakistan award.
This series is being played in England because of security concerns in Pakistan.