What a match Pakistan produced out of nothing! Pakistani boys have shut the mouth of all critics who criticised for their 1st innings low score. Pakistan was down and out for first 8 sessions of Test Match still pulled off an impressive comeback in the Test which made the 1st Test one to remember for years. Pakistan chasing 490 in final innings were short of 40 runs in the end. Asad Shafiq the star with 137 runs made Australia toil hard for last 4 wickets.
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Pakistan has failed to win series in Australia on numerous occasions and Australia started the 1st Test as favourites. Winning the toss, Aussies opted to bat first. Riding on Steve Smith and Peter Handscomb’s centuries, Australia builds a massive total of 429. Steve Smith and Peter Handscomb’s brilliance had neutralised the swing attack of Amir, Rahat and Wahab Riaz on Day 1. Day 1 completely belonged to Australia with Aussies scoring 300+ runs with just fall of 3 wickets.
Session 1 of Day 2 was complete turnover from Day 1 and Pakistan was quick enough to get Aussies wickets which reduced their score to 429 for loss of 10 wickets. Pakistan had a good practice match vs Australia XI but their batting weaknesses were exposed. Trailing by 429, it was mentally tough for Pakistani batsman to survive the Day 2 under lights. Pakistan had a slow start but soon the visitors crumbled and found themselves in a spot of trouble. Experienced guys like Younus and Misbah were back into the pavilion with low scores. Pakistan was in spot with a score of 67/8. Day 2 which looked like a turnover in the 1st session was turned over back again by Australia in their favour.
Australia started confidently on Day 3, looking for the wicket which mattered to all out team Pakistan for a low score. But Pakistani wicket-keeper Sarfaraz Ahmed had other intentions. He continued the fight back and made Pakistan reach a far more respectable score of 142. All eyes were on Steve Smith who had an option of enforcing the follow-on to Pakistan. But David Warner steamed into the dressing room for a quick change and was out to bat with his young and new partner Renshaw. Both of them got out quickly but the middle order got the things under control. Smith was once again the man to rescue the home side along with Usman Khwaja. Scoring at a run rate of over 5, Australia managed to get 200 on board in just 39 overs. At the score of 202/5, Aussies declared their innings with Pakistan requiring 490 to chase in the fourth innings.
The record for the highest chase in Test match belongs to South Africa. 418 is what Africa had managed to chase against Australia a few years back. So a record chase was on cards if Pakistan had any chance to shut the critic’s mouth. As usual, Pakistan started on a slow note. But this time, their defence looked more positive. Young Azhar Ali along with Younis Khan made Pakistani’s believe that the score was around touching distance. The duo played wonderfully and build a 90+ partnership. But Azhar Ali departed after he nicked a ball going down the leg side which Matthew Wade eventually caught. Soon from 145/2, Pakistan was reduced to 220/6. It looked like the win was coming to Australia soon. But tailenders along with Asad Shafiq had some other intentions. Asad Shafiq played beautifully along with tail enders. 90+ partnership with Mohammad Amir again revived the match. Mohammad Amir scored 48 runs which consisted 5 boundaries. Jackson Bird was called back by captain Smith and Bird did not disappoint. He got Amir trapped in this plan and Pakistan saw themselves at 312/7 with more 160 odd runs required. Asad Shafiq from one end continued the battle at a good pace. Wahab Riaz also joined him and scored important 30 runs which saw Pakistan reaching close to 400 marks. A small mistake in last over of the day from Riaz cost him his wicket. At the end of Day 4, Pakistan required more 107 runs with 2 wickets in hand.
Day 5 was all decider. Talks of will Pakistan pull off a miracle or will Aussies steam in and grab those two important wickets? Day 5 started with Asad and Yasir continuing their chase. The first hour of the day was crucial for both sides. Pakistan successfully saw the first hour without losing a wicket and getting useful 50-60 odd runs in their pocket. Australia knew, they were one wicket (of Asad Shafiq) away from a famous win in Gabba. Lyon tried with a couple of overs but produced nothing so Steve Smith called Starc back from one end. Eventually, Mitchell Starc proved why he is best to fast bowler at the moment. Fast bowl with an awkward bounce got the nick of Asad Shafiq which carried to David Warner. Well played innings of 137 runs of Asad Shafiq ended with Pakistan requiring more 40 odd runs.
As the experts said, one wicket would follow another, Yasir Shah departed in very next over and Pakistan lost by 39 runs. It was a breathtaking 2 days of cricket which made critics think for a moment. The fight also showed the Pakistan team’s ability and also boosted the visitor team’s confidence for remaining two tests.