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Best of the Tests: Australia vs Pakistan


Pakistan_Australia_Test_CricketPakistan have kicked off their home season with a 1-0 win against a new-look Australian outfit. As was the case in 2014-15, it was a two-match rubber played in the United Arab Emirates. Since their first meeting, at Karachi in 1956-57, Australia and Pakistan have faced each other in 64 Tests, with Australia holding a 31-15 lead. Here is a look back at five memorable Tests between the two teams.

First Test, Melbourne, 1978-79

This Test was the first in a two-Test series. On the opening day, fast bowlers Rodney Hogg and Alan Hurst collected seven wickets between them to condemn Pakistan to 196. No batsman made it past the thirties, and after slipping to 40/4, the visitors were always on the back foot. Imran Khan (4/26) brought Pakistan back in the game by denting Australia’s top order. The hosts were bowled out for 168, giving Pakistan a narrow lead.

Pakistan’s second innings was built around opener Majid Khan’s knock of 108. Further helped by a robust showing from the middle order, they declared at 353/9, setting Australia 382 to win. Australia began the final day at 117/2. At 128/3, Kim Hughes (84) joined Allan Border, and they turned the tide in their team’s favour with a fourth-wicket stand of 177. Australia needed 77 runs more with seven wickets in hand, when Sarfraz Nawaz bowled Border for 105.

Border’s wicket triggered a sensational collapse as Sarfraz proceeded to rip through the Australian batting. In one of the greatest spells in Test history, he took 7 for 1 in 33 balls to leave the crowd stunned. From 305/3, Australia were bowled out for 310 in a matter of 11 overs, with four of the last seven wickets being ducks. Sarfraz returned figures of 9/86, single-handedly bowling Pakistan to a famous win. Australia drew the series by winning the second Test at Perth.

First Test, Karachi, 1994-95

Australia were searching for their first Test win in Pakistan in 35 years when they began this series at the fortress of Pakistani cricket – the hosts had not lost a single Test at the National Stadium. After new captain Mark Taylor elected to bat, Australia managed to score 337, for which they were thankful to debutant Michael Bevan (82) and Steve Waugh (73), who stitched together a fifth-wicket stand of 121 to rescue their side from 95/4.

In reply, Pakistan were cruising at 153/1, at which point Saeed Anwar fell for 85 to start a middle-order collapse. The innings stuttered to 181/6, before eventually finishing at 256. All the front-line Australian bowlers took at least two wickets each. With a cushion of 81 runs, Australia had given themselves a real chance of winning the Test.

In their second innings, the game was Australia’s to lose with the score reading 171/2 and David Boon and Mark Waugh (61) looking comfortable in the middle. But the deadly fast bowling duo of Wasim Akram (5/63) and Waqar Younis (4/69) had other ideas, as they turned around the game with a fine display. Wickets fell in a heap even as Boon, who finished unbeaten on 114, held up one end. Australia lost their last five wickets for 19 runs to be bowled out for 232.

Pakistan thus required 314 runs to win, more than anything they had ever successfully chased in a Test. Anwar (77) starred again, and his assured batting led Pakistan to 155/3 at the start of the final day. However, an Australian victory looked the likeliest result when the score slipped to 184/7. With the score at 258/9, Mushtaq Ahmed came out to join Inzamam-ul-Haq (58*).

At this point, three of the main Australian bowlers were injured, and only Shane Warne (5/89) was left as a threat, albeit on a turning wicket. The last pair took advantage of this slice of fortune, and put on an unbroken 56 in just 49 balls to give Pakistan a thrilling one-wicket win, in the process keeping their proud record in Karachi intact. Pakistan went on to win the series 1-0.

Second Test, Hobart, 1999-00

After clinching a ten-wicket win in Brisbane, Australia looked certain to lose at the Bellerive Oval before an amazing last-day comeback from Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist gave them a famous win. Steve Waugh inserted Pakistan in and his bowlers did not disappoint, limiting the total to 222. Opener Mohammed Wasim made an attacking 91.In reply, Australia were in a commanding position at 191/1, with Michael Slater (97) and Langer (59) in ominous form.

Pakistan somehow conjured a recovery, guided by the wily off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq (6/46). Australia were dismissed for 246, losing their last eight wickets for only 40 runs. Trailing by 24, Pakistan took control of the game with a solid batting effort in the second innings. Saeed Anwar (78) took charge at the top, before Inzamam-ul-Haq (118) and Ijaz Ahmed (82) put on 136 for the fourth wicket. Shane Warne (5/110) bowled impressively, but Pakistan ended with 392.

Australia needed 369 to win the series, which seemed a distant dream when they fell to 126/5 on the fourth evening. But Langer and Gilchrist were not deterred, and went on to add a record 238 for the sixth wicket. While Langer made a gritty 127, it was Gilchrist’s assault that jolted Pakistan. The wicketkeeper cracked 149* off 163 balls – a remarkable knock given the situation. Australia duly reached 369/6, completing what was then the third-highest successful Test chase.

Second Test, Sydney, 2009-10

Ten years later, Pakistan were yet again at the receiving end of a brilliant Australian resurgence. This Test was an apt example of a team snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Trailing 1-0 in the three-match series, Pakistan had a perfect start as Australia, after electing to bat, were shot out for just 127 on the opening day. Mohammed Sami took three early wickets to leave the hosts 10/3, after which Mohammed Asif (6/41) took over. At one point, the score read a woeful 62/7.

Pakistan replied with an opening stand of 109 between Imran Farhat (53) and Salman Butt (71), and aided by vital contributions down the order, ended their first innings at 333. In their second innings, in spite of Shane Watson’s 97, Australia were reduced to 257/8 – effectively 51/8 – late on the third day, and a Pakistani win appeared to be inevitable. The hosts found their saviour in Michael Hussey, who shared in an invaluable 123-run ninth-wicket stand with Peter Siddle.

Helped by abysmal fielding and questionable wicketkeeping by Kamran Akmal, Hussey scored an unbeaten 134 as the innings ended at 381 (Danish Kaneria 5/151). Even then, Pakistan needed only 176 to win and had plenty of time to achieve the target. Instead, they imploded. From 50/1, they crashed to 77/5. Umar Akmal (49) kept the visitors alive, but the last four wickets fell for just six runs as Pakistan were bowled out for 139. Off-spinner Nathan Hauritz grabbed 5/53.

First Test, Brisbane, 2016-17

This was the first day-night Test to be played at the Gabba. A fourth-wicket partnership of 172 between captain Steven Smith (130) and Peter Handscomb (105) formed the fulcrum of Australia’s formidable 429. Pakistan were soon staring at annihilation, as the Australian pace attack left them tottering at an embarrassing 67/8 under the lights, before eventually bowling them out for 142. Only wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed showed any resolve, scoring a spunky 59*.

Smith declared at 202/5 in the second dig, with seven sessions remaining. A fourth-day finish beckoned as Pakistan, chasing 490, fell to 220/6 in the second session. However, Asad Shafiq was not going to go down without a fight. He gave the hosts the jitters with a sublime 137, shepherding the tail with stands of 92, 66 and 71 for the seventh, eighth and ninth wickets. Australia were only too relieved when the innings finished at 450, before dinner on the final day.

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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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