An epic draw as Babar and Rizwan fight till the end

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Usually a high-scoring draw is boring. But not this one in Karachi between Australia and Pakistan which ended last night. The final day of the second Test was electrifying; any of the three results was possible – a win for either side or a draw.

Winning the toss Australia batted and batted declaring at 9 for 556 and we thought this would be a repeat of the first Test at Rawalpindi where only 14 wickets fell in five days as 1187 runs were amassed by the two teams.

Back to the Karachi thriller of this week. With Australia’s Islamabad-born Usman Khawaja continuing his run-making spree (160 runs with 15 fours and a six), Steve Smith scoring 72 with 7 fours and Alex Carey 93 with 7 fours and 2 sixes the visitors put up a formidable total.

Pakistan collapsed in reply, all out for 148 as fast bowler Mitchell Starc took 3 for 29.

Going for a win Aussie skipper Pat Cummins declared at 2 for 97 setting Pakistan an impossible and never before achieved win target of 506 runs.

Impossible? It seemed that like Napoleon the Pakistan batsmen had never heard of the word impossible! They started chasing the target like men possessed. Their opening batsman Abdullah Shafique started the chase with a fluent 96 enriched with 6 fours and a six.

Skipper Babar Azam hit a magnificent 196 with 21 fours and a six, adding 228 runs for the third wicket with Shafique and 115 runs for the fifth wicket with Mohammad Rizwan who played an equally glorious innings of unbeaten 104 with 11 fours and a six. Babar’s heroic 196 was the seventh highest fourth innings score in Test history.

At the pulsating end, Pakistan hit a mammoth 7 for 443 on a pitch which took spin. The only bowler to succeed was off-spinner Nathan Lyon who captured four wickets.

The match ended in a draw but what twists and turns with suspense galore.

Babar Azam was the Player of the Match. He said at the presentation [translated from Urdu], “The plan was always to try and survive the overs, and even towards the end there were no serious discussions about chasing it. Pay tribute to Shafique and Rizwan. We are looking forward to going one better in Lahore.”

Concluded Australian captain Pat Cummins, “So heaps of positives this week. I felt we were ahead of the game the whole time and that’s not always the case in foreign conditions. So really proud of the boys.”

The third and final Test will be played in Lahore from 21st to 25th next week.

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