When Shane Warne authored his own tale of justice against Salim Malik at Brisbane

Shane Warne finished with match-figures of 11 for 77. With all the match-fixing claims surrounding, Warne was hailed in Australia as the avenging angel © Getty Images

On November 13, 1995, Shane Warne ripped through Pakistan at Brisbane to lead Australia to victory by an innings and 126 runs. The momentous feat was etched after match-fixing allegations on Saleem Malik, brought to the fore by Warne himself, had been dismissed by a Pakistani court. Karthik Parimal revisits the high-voltage Test that vindicated the champion leg-spinner, at least on the field.

“Motivation is something I never lack at any time, but especially not against a team such as Pakistan and when they came to Australia in 1995-96,” writes Shane Warne in his autobiography. It’s well-known that Warne is not averse to making lofty statements, one which often generates a temporary flutter and just as quickly fades away, but what transpired at the time, before Pakistan’s scheduled visit to Australia puts this line of his into perspective.

Exactly one year before [in 1994], when Australia toured Pakistan, Saleem Malik had apparently attempted to bribe Tim May and Warne to bowl wide of off-stump in a Test match, promising monetary reward, an approach that, understandably, didn’t go down well in the Australian camp. A complaint was lodged, which, after navigating through the hierarchical levels, made its way to the match-referee and then duly the courts. The first investigation carried out in Pakistan exempted Malik of wrongdoing, a verdict that embarrassed Warne, May and the Australian unit to no end. Although Malik was stripped off captaincy and dropped for one series, his poor form, and not match-fixing, had been cited as the reason. Nonetheless, he was named in the squad for the tour of Australia, and this pleased Warne for points well chronicled. “I desperately wanted to beat Pakistan and set the record straight and show there was some justice in the game,” he further adds.
Vindication at its best

On that warm November morning at Brisbane, Australian captain Mark Taylor won the toss and chose to bat first. The ones who came to watch the on-field duel between Warne and Malik had to wait longer, but they caught a glimpse of Malik’s brilliance at mid-wicket, where he took a diving catch off Taylor’s blade, this after a 107-run opening stand. However, Malik split the webbing on his left hand and needed six stitches to keep it in check.

Taylor fell for 69, and Michael Slater, 42, soon followed course, as Australia slid to 119 for two. David Boon and Mark Waugh then propped the score by deftly manoeuvring the ball into the gaps and methodically picking boundaries. The Pakistani bowlers — Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Mohammad Akram and Saqlain Mushtaq — sported droopy shoulders in due course of time.

Steve Waugh strode out at the fall of his twin Mark’s (59) wicket; the breakthrough, though, proved to be anything but pleasant for Pakistan.  Waugh assiduously worked the seamers and spinners, driving, cutting and pulling with ease as the innings went on. Nevertheless, he avoided the hook, preferring to hop and nudge the short ball instead. Boon’s demise hardly made an impact on Waugh, who, with his new partner Greg Blewett at the other end, continued to meticulously dismantle the Pakistani attack. His knock had been flawless until he reached the eighties, and it was at this juncture he was dropped twice off Aamer Sohail’s part-time spin. Despite managing to usurp a century, Waugh termed this innings of his as ‘ugly’.

Waugh remained unbeaten on 112 as the lower-order, mustering just 27, ensured Australia’s first innings concluded at 463 — a total daunting enough for any first-rate opposition, leave alone a sub-continent team in their first Test of the season Down Under. Nonetheless, at press conferences post the day’s play, the visitors said they were hardly intimidated by the score. As if the Australians weren’t already fired up, the statement had Warne fuming. What followed was carnage from the magical wrists of the wizard.

The ‘avenging angel’

Pakistan hit rough waters early in their reply, losing Salim Elahi for 11. Warne was soon roped in, and he quickly accounted for the scalp of Rameez Raja, tossing the leg-spinner full and getting the batsman to drive, only for the ball to take the leading edge and land safely in the hands of Taylor fielding at first slip. Nightwatchman Saqlain Mushtaq was flummoxed by Glenn McGrath as Pakistan ended day-two on 40 for three, neck-deep in trouble. The next morning, Warne trampled all over them, making a mockery of their brave front put forth on the previous day. He lent proof to his theory of Pakistan’s incapability of handling leg-spin better than the Indians.

This fact Warne highlights in his book: “In spite of their confident words the Pakistanis showed little clue once I started to hit my straps. They either scratched around, using their pads nervously or, like Inzamam-ul-Haq, went for the big hit that didn’t come off.” Inzamam was indeed caught trying to dispatch Warne out of the Gabba, but before him departed Sohail who, in an attempt to sweep, dragged his feet out of the crease to be expertly stumped by wicketkeeper Ian Healy. When Moin Khan succumbed, going for a big shot, too, Pakistan slumped to 70 for six.

By this stage, Warne was getting the ball to venomously spit off the turf. Leg-spinner-in-decline at the time (or so it was widely believed) he had Basit Ali caught by Taylor in the slip cordon again, Wasim Akram pouched by Boon at short-leg, and Mohammad Akram by Blewett at the deep end. The only disappointment was that he couldn’t bowl, or rather hurl, at Malik, his nemesis, for the latter was yet to recover from the injury to his left hand. The crowd, too, were visibly dejected at Malik’s absence. As for the score, the Pakistanis were bundled out for a paltry 97, Warne bagging seven wickets for 23 runs (six for 10 in the last 56 balls alone).

A whopping 366 behind Australia’s first innings total, Pakistan was asked to follow-on, and their response was a lot sturdier the second time around. Although Elahi fell for two and Raja caught behind for 16, Sohail and Inzamam deftly negotiated Warne’s wizardry and McGrath’s guile. Both batsmen notched half-centuries and Sohail looked set to cruise past the three-figure mark when, on 99, his stumps were rattled by the relentless McGrath. Despite Inzamam’s calming presence and Basit Ali’s stoic stay, Pakistan finished day-three on 197 for three, dangling by the ropes despite the batting to follow.

The fourth morning laid foundation for the epic clash the Brisbane crowd had been waiting for with bated breath. After adding 20 runs to the overnight score, Inzamam and Ali trudged back in succession, but it was at the fall of Wasim Akram’s wicket that the crowd erupted, not only because it was Warne who’d tricked him, yet again, but for the fact that Malik, now fit, would hop out to bat. Deafening boos engulfed the stadium at Brisbane when the batsman with grubby palms slowly walked to take guard, as Warne, clearly searing, tossed the ball impatiently from his right hand to left in a loop.

“I am going to give him [Malik] three or four bouncers in a row,” Warne, the leg-spinner, said to his skipper Taylor.

“And what would that prove? Just concentrate on getting him out,” was the sensible reply from Taylor.

Warne sent down three genuine sober deliveries that had Malik poking and prodding at it, but the fourth, a slower, sharper leg-break, pitching on the leg-stump, took his willow’s leading edge and lobbed straight into the hands of Craig McDermott fielding at mid-off. The crowd went berserk as Warne gave Malik a somewhat colourful send off, one that seemed justified to him and his entourage.” Australia had cast Warne in the role of avenging angel,” Wisden duly noted. Warne, mighty pleased with that wicket, didn’t refrain from stating “It showed that there is justice in the game” during the post-match press conference.

Needless to say, Australia ran through the tail, dismissing Pakistan for 240 in their second dig, thereby going 1-0 up in the series by a margin of an innings and 126 runs. Warne finished with match figures of 11 for 77, the second best of his Test career at the time and the best by an Australian bowler against Pakistan.

Brief scores:

Australia 463 (Steve Waugh 112*, Mark Taylor 69, Mark Waugh 59, Greg Blewett 57, David Boon 54; Waqar Younis 3 for 101) beat Pakistan 97 (Aamer Sohail 32; Shane Warne 7 for 23) and 240 (Aamer Sohail 99, Inzamam-ul-Haq 62; Shane Warne 4 for 54, Glenn McGrath 4 for 76) by an innings and 126 runs.

Man of the Match: Shane Warne.

(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal)