Pulsating End To A Great Test Match

What a contrast! While the first Test between India and West Indies ended in one of the most lopsided results one can come across the first Test between Australia and Pakistan at Dubai went the distance and ended in a pulsating draw. It was the perfect advertisement for Test cricket and while the crowds might have been sparse the quality of cricket witnessed was of a high quality. Pakistan dominated the match for long spells but Australia deserved the draw because of their stupendous fightback on the final day.

It isn’t often that Australia are the underdogs against Pakistan but in the UAE the latter has proved to be a formidable outfit. In the last Test series between the two countries in the country in 2014-15 Pakistan won both Tests. And this time too Pakistan were heading for victory till the Aussies with a typical rearguard action foiled their bid. Batting for well over nine hours and for 140 overs on the fourth and fifth days against Yasir Shah and company was a tremendous feat. The fightback was led by Usman Khawaja who played arguably his best-ever innings. There was a question mark over his ability to play top class spin but he quashed these theories by his monumental 141 in the fourth innings for which he defied the attack for eight hours and 40 minutes while facing 302 balls. .

This is not exactly a strong Aussie team in the absence of the banned trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and Peter Handscomb and it speaks volumes of their resilience that they came out with an honorable draw. For the Aussies no match is lost till it is won, or at least drawn and this performance will give them loads of confidence as they head for the second Test at Abu Dhabi.

After dominating for almost four days Pakistan just could not deliver the coup de grace. Their first mistake was not enforcing the follow on though these days not much is made of this as it is a fad to bat again despite having a big lead. Then they dawdled in the second innings which led to a delayed declaration which in the ultimate analysis saw the Aussies make their great escape. Australia were left a little over nine hours to get 462. There were never going to get anywhere near the target as subsequent events proved and just about drew the game. The declaration could have been made earlier and Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed if he knows his cricketing history should be aware that the highest total to win a Test is 418.

Too much however should not be made of this. It was a great Test match between two good sides marked by some splendid batting and bowling and a thrilling finish. What more than a true cricket lover ask for? .