Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Usman Khawaja struck a superb 141 and captain Tim Paine scored an unbeaten 61 as Australia held off Pakistan to secure a nail-biting draw on the fifth day of the first Test in Dubai.
Starting off the day on 136/3, Khawaja and debutant Travis Head converted their 49-run partnership into a 132-run partnership, during which Head brought up his half-century.
Head went on to score 72, which came off 175 balls and included five boundaries, before he was given out lbw off the bowling of Mohammad Hafeez.
Debutant Marnus Labuschagne only scored 13 runs before he was trapped lbw off the bowling of Yasir Shah.
Khawaja and Paine stabilised the innings with a 79-run stand before Khawaja was given out lbw off the bowling of Yasir for 141, which came off 302 deliveries and included 11 boundaries.
Khawaja opted to review the decision, but replays showed that the ball was pitching in line and going on to hit the stumps.
Australia were then dealt two more quick blows as Yasir removed Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle in the space of four balls.
Despite this, Paine and Nathan Lyon fought valiantly and kept Pakistan at bay for the remainder of the day as they forged an unbeaten 29-run partnership.
Pakistan tried to do everything in their power to get a breakthrough, but they couldn’t get the job done and had to settle for a draw.
Paine finished on 61 off 194 balls, which included five boundaries, while Lyon remained undefeated on five.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Yasir was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Mohammad Abbas took three and Hafeez claimed one.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed was gutted not to have won, and said: “We hoped to roll them out but we have to give credit to Khawaja. We had an idea that he would understand our tactics but it wasn’t easy to bat and despite that he soldiered on, we must give him credit.
“We need to work hard – in Tests you learn as much as you play. Haris’ decision was quite close, but this happens. We have little things to work on. We should praise Abbas a lot. The way he bowled on this pitch after returning from county cricket was tremendous. The batsmen who got their opportunities also took them. that’s a positive. We could have won this but Tests are like this. We’re sad, but the opposition also played well and we need to acknowledge that.”
Paine was over the moon to have secured a draw, and said: “It was an extremely tough Test match. Pakistan played very well and had us under the pump for three days. Proud of our comeback. 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. I was nervous [in the last 45 minutes]. I think that’s how it happens here. If batsmen get in, it’s easy. Really proud of the way our tail stuck at it.
“No it doesn’t feel like a win. We were outplayed. Proud to get something out of it, but we can play a lot better in the next Test.”
Khawaja was named Man of the Match, and said: “[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. Very happy and thankful we got away with the draw there.
“Every time you get a hundred for Australia it’s amazing. Doesn’t matter if it’s here or at home. Just thankful. As a left-hander you always have rough to deal with so you need a plan.”