DUBAI: Opener Usman Khawaja hit a defiant hundred to foil Pakistan and help Australia escape with a gripping draw in the first Test in Dubai on Thursday.
The left-hander hit a solid 141 for his seventh Test hundred, while skipper Tim Paine (61 not out) and Travis Head (72) also hit half centuries as Australia finished at 362-8 late in the day with lights coming on at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
After Khawaja was dismissed with 14.3 overs left and leg-spinner Yasir Shah quickly removed Mitchell Starc (1) and Peter Siddle (0), Paine and Nathan Lyon (5) survived 12.1 overs.
Imam fractures finger, ruled out of final Test
Both had some anxious moments before players shook hands with one ball to go in the final over of the Test bowled by Yasir.
Yasir had shaken the Australian innings with 4-114 but Australia still clung on. They have now won two and drawn two of their 16 Tests in Asia since 2012.
A disappointed Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed was full of praise for Khawaja.
“We hoped to roll them out but we have to give credit to Khawaja,” said Sarfraz. “We had an idea that he would understand out tactics but it wasn’t easy to bat and despite that he soldiered on, we must give him credit.”
Paine admitted it was hard work to save the Test.
“It was an extremely tough Test match,” said Paine, after his second Test as captain. “Pakistan played very well but I am proud of our comeback. 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.”
But Australia’s hero was Khawaja, who started the day on 50 not out as Australia resumed on 136-3.
Khawaja and Head added 79 before lunch as Pakistan failed to take a wicket in the first session. The pair eventually put on an invaluable 132 for the fourth wicket.
Khawaja, who was born in Pakistan but moved to Australia as a child, batted for eight hours 44 minutes and faced 302 balls before he was sixth man out in the final session. He was trapped leg-before sweeping Yasir.
Khawaja, who hit 11 boundaries, had a top score of 26 in five previous Tests in Asia.
His innings was the second longest in the fourth innings of a Test, behind England’s Michael Atherton’s 645 minute vigil in scoring 185 not out against South Africa in Johannesburg in 1995. It was the highest fourth-innings score by any visiting batsman in Asia, beating New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori’s 140 made at Colombo against Sri Lanka nine years ago.
Pakistan started the day needing seven wickets to win but nothing worked for Sarfraz, despite multiple bowling changes.
Pakistan could have had Head leg-before off leg-spinner Yasir on 44, but Sarfraz did not review umpire Richard Kettleborough’s not out decision. Replays showed the ball was hitting the stumps.
Pakistan were only rewarded when they took the second new ball as soon as it was due and Hafeez trapped Head leg-before with the first ball. Australia wobbled but Khawaja and Paine, who batted for three hours and 39 minutes, ensured a draw.
While the teams now prepare to do battle in the second and final Test in Abu Dhabi from Tuesday, Pakistan have already also suffered a big blow with the news that their in-form young Imam-ul-Haq will miss the match after fracturing a finger while fielding on Thursday.
“Imam has fractured the fifth finger of his left hand while fielding and has been ruled out of the second Test starting in Abu Dhabi from Oct 16,” a Pakistan Cricket Board spokesman said.
Imam scored a brilliant 76 and then 48 in the first Test, the fourth of his career started in Ireland in May this year. Imam will continued to be monitored before the three-match Twenty20 series against Australia starting in Abu Dhabi from Oct 24.
PAKISTAN (1st Innings) 482 (Mohammad Hafeez 126, Haris Sohail 110, Asad Shafiq 80, Imam-ul-Haq 76; P.M. Siddle 3-58).
AUSTRALIA (1st Innings) 202 (U.T. Khawaja 85, A.J. Finch 62; Bilal Asif 6-36, Mohammad Abbas 4-29).
PAKISTAN (2nd Innings) 181-6 declared (Imam-ul-Haq 48, Asad Shafiq 41, Haris Sohail 39; J.M. Holland 3-83).
AUSTRALIA (2nd Innings, overnight 136-3):
A.J. Finch lbw b Abbas 49
U.T. Khawaja lbw b Yasir 141
S.E. Marsh c Sarfraz b Abbas 0
M.R. Marsh lbw b Abbas 0
T.M. Head lbw b Hafeez 72
M. Labuschagne lbw b Yasir 13
T.D. Paine not out 61
M.A. Starc c Azam b Yasir 1
P.M. Siddle lbw b Yasir 0
N.M. Lyon not out 5
EXTRAS (B-13, LB-4, NB-3) 20
TOTAL (for eight wkts, 139.5 overs) 362
FALL OF WKTS: 1-87, 2-87, 3-87, 4-219, 5-252, 6-331, 7-333, 8-333.
BOWLING: Mohammad Abbas 27-7-56-3; Mohammad Hafeez 6-0-29-1; Yasir Shah 43.5-9-114-4; Wahab Riaz 16-3-42-0 (3nb); Bilal Asif 37-8-87-0; Haris Sohail 9-1-16-0; Asad Shafiq 1-0-1-0.
RESULT: Match drawn.
UMPIRES: R.K. Illingworth (England) and R.A. Kettleborough (England).
TV UMPIRE: S. Ravi (India).
MATCH REFEREE: R.S. Madugalle (Sri Lanka).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Usman Khawaja.
SECOND TEST: Abu Dhabi, Oct 16-20.
Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2018