DUBAI: Opener Usman Khawaja led Australia to escape with a fighting hundred to thwart Pakistan’s victory bids as the first Test ended in a draw in Dubai on Thursday.
It was a pugnacious knock which highlighted how Khawaja had worked hard on his technique to foil a spinning attack on an Asian wicket where his best score in previous five Test was 26.
He buried that jinx with a timely hundred to lead Australia’s fightback as Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed made more than one error of judgement, not introducing his best and wicket taking bowler Mohammad Abbas in the morning and then not taking a review when Travis Head was clearly leg-before off Yasir Shah on 44.
Even after Khawaja’s dismissal, Tim Paine hit 61 not out and with Nathan Lyon played 12.1 overs to earn a draw. Yasir Shah had shaken the Australian innings with 4-114 but it was not enough to get Pakistan a win.
The second Test starts in Abu Dhabi from October 16.
That combined with Australia’s resolve to save the Test has now left the series hanging in balance with the second Test starting in Abu Dhabi from October 16. To Pakistan’s disadvantage, they have lost prolific opener Imam-ul-Haq for that Test, ruled out with a fractured finger.
But with just 14.3 overs remaining Khawaja was finally dismissed, trapped leg-before while sweeping a Yasir delivery as England umpire Richard Illingworth raised his finger, much to the joy of Pakistan players.
Khawaja, who batted for eight hours 44 minutes and knocked 11 boundaries, desperately challenged the decision but was left to trudge back to the pavilion.
But Khawaja still buried the Asian ghost as this becomes his highest score in Asia, beating the previous best of 26 in five previous Test in the Continent, also beating Ricky Ponting’s’ highest score of 118 by an Australia in the fourth innings in Asia.
His innings is also the second longest in fourth innings of a Test, behind England’s Michael Atherton’s 645-minute vigil in scoring 1 against South Africa in Johannesburg in 1995.
When Australia started the day at 136-3 there were expectations that Pakistan might win the match before lunch but that first session went without a wicket for Pakistan as Khawaja and Head took the score to 215-3.
The second session gave Pakistan a semblance of victory when they took the second new ball as soon as it was due after 80 overs and the wily Mohammad Hafeez got Head with the first ball, trapped leg before for 72.
Head held his head high during a 132-run stand for the fourth wicket and
Pakistan did not have to wait long for Marnus Labuschagne’s wicket who threw his bat at Yasir Shah to give the leg-spinner his first wicket in the match.
But Tim Paine became a pain in Pakistan’s way.