Fri, Oct 12, 12:41pm by Head Editor
Australia has salvaged a draw against Pakistan, batting out a record 139 overs in the final innings of the opening Test in Dubai.
Aussie left-hander Usman Khawaja silenced many of his critics, bringing up the seventh hundred of his career and the first against Pakistan.
Khawaja was at the crease for 302 balls across the fourth and fifth days for his brilliant knock of 141, and it was clear how much it meant to the Pakistani-born 31-year old when he reached triple figures.
While the opener did the bulk of the heavy lifting, when he was dismissed with 35 overs remaining, the job was far from done.
Skipper Tim Paine took over the mantle as the only remaining batsman when Khawaja was trapped in front by leg-spinner Yasir Shar, who almost bowled the hosts to victory.
Paine was as determined as he was skilful in holding out the world-class Pakistani spin attack, finishing on 61 not out off 194 balls and he was very pleased in the aftermath.
Speaking to Reuters, Paine said “It was extremely tough test match. Pakistan played very well and had us under the pump for three days.
Everyone had a plan. Usman was more defensive than usual. There was a bit of a collapse but the guys have been working hard over the last few months and I’m happy everything’s gone to plan.”
Khawaja, who was named man of the match had this to say “(The plan was to) Just bat. Wasn’t thinking too much.
It was decent but it was getting tougher and tougher. We thought that if we batted two sessions we’d be in good stead.”
The unlikely draw wasn’t guaranteed in the final over the day, with Shah, who hadn’t taken a wicket throughout his first 52 overs, all of a sudden springing to life, removing Khawaja and then tailenders Mitchell Starc for one and then his fast bowling partner Peter Siddle for a duck in successive overs.
Shah, who finished with figures of 4-114, was unable to remove the stubborn Nathan Lyon, who was at the crease for 35 balls, finishing unbeaten on five, alongside his captain.
Credit must also go to Khawaja’s overnight partner, Travis Head, who played a smart innings of 72 before he was caught in front off the bowling of off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez when the new ball was taken just after lunch.
It was then that the result looked as if it was going Pakistan’s way, but the Aussies dug in and produced a draw which may stir the new-look team on after the disastrous events in South Africa in March.
The way that the Australian team conducted itself and the way that it fought hard for the draw has left many Australians to comment about how proud they once again feel about the national team.
Pakistan got themselves into a match-winning position in the first innings, when both Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail reached triple figures in the imposing total of 482 all out.
Australia were then bundled out for just 202, which makes the second innings look even more remarkable.
The teams now move on to Abu Dhabi for the second Test, which begins on Tuesday at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium.
Pakistan are the favourites for the next Test, at $2, Australia are much shorter than they were before the 1st Test, at $3.50, while a repeat of the draw is also at that mark.
2nd Test Odds
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