Dubai: Australian opener Usman Khawaja, who stood like a colossus and steered his team to a tremendous draw against Pakistan in the first Test match at Dubai International Stadium through a spectacular knock of 141, said he was delighted with the end result. His knock that lasted 524 mintues, facing 302 balls and hitting 11 boundaries is the second longest fourth innings in the history of cricket after England’s Mike Atherton’s stay at the wicket for 645 minutes against South Africa at Johannesburg in 1995.
Chasing a target of 462 runs, Australians ended at 362 for 8, denying Pakistan the chance to go one up in the two-match Test series. When asked about having batted so long in the second innings to create history, Khawaja said: “I am just happy to be where we are now. They had a chance to follow on and understandably they batted again and gave their bowlers a bit of rest and came back out but to just bat that long a period in Asia that alone you know it’s bit different. It’s a lot of credit to lot of guys. It shows lot of guts. It takes lot of courage to do something like that. And hopefully we can take the momentum into the next game.”
Australian Skipper Tim Paine displayed his maturity and responsibility as the new captain through an unbeaten 61 amid mounting pressure. Paine, admitting that the nerves were there near the end of the match, said this is the brand of cricket that he wants his team to play: “We were both bit nervous (Nathan Lyon and Paine had batted out the last 12.1 overs through an unbeaten 29 runs partnership to ensure the draw). As wickets started to fall, yeah it was a nervous feeling. But luckily we got it done. We always want to play good cricket. There is no doubt about that. I am just really proud of how we stuck to the plan. We needed to fight here and show patience. It’s another thing to talk about after you had a 10/60 collapse and shake a few people’s belief. But we never lost hope. It’s probably a bit of a dream now. We just dug in and played a brand that Australian cricket team wants to play.”
The Australians played their longest ever fourth innings, playing out 139.5 overs to produce the draw. When Paine was asked whether he expected to pull off an escape, he said: “Probably not. Not in these circumstances I guess, coming where we came from on day three. We are just really proud of the whole group how they stuck to the plans and kept digging in and extremely proud of Usman. He played a great Test innings.”
Usman then described what it was like to bat so long in the Dubai heat. “The first innings I made 85 and it was as tough as any innings I have played,” he said. “I was absolutely drenched. My pants were drenched. It took a lot out of me. In the second innings was just trying to bat really long. I was feeling pretty good for most of it until I got to the second session with one hour left before tea and I was just hoping to get some rest. Luckily I got that at tea. I just loved batting there. I was just enjoyed batting out there and enjoying getting a few partnerships.”
Usman also described the final tense moments. “After all the hard work that we have done to sort of set the game up I guess in the last hour and then I obviously I got out,” he said. “Paine had a big task to steer us home. I can’t deny how hard the situation is especially when you come off the field and I was just praying you know ‘just get through this, just get through this’. And Lyon batted beautifully and Paine batted beautifully in the end.”
The close of the Test was followed by a bad news for Pakistan that their inform batsman Imam-ul-Haq would miss the second Test as he fractured his finger while fielding.
Pakistan 1st Innings: 482
Australia 1st Innings: 202
Pakistan 2nd Innings: 181-6 declared
Australia 2nd Innings (Overnight 136-3)
Aaron Finch lbw b Abbas 49
Usman Khawaja lbw b Shah 141
Shaun Marsh c Ahmed b Abbas 0
Mitchell Marsh lbw b Abbas 0
Travis Head lbw b Hafeez 72
Marnus Labuschagne lbw b Shah 13
Tim Paine not out 61
Mitchell Starc c Azam b Shah 1
Peter Siddle lbw b Shah 0
Nathan Lyon not out 5
Extras: (13b, 4lb, 3nb) 20
Total: (for 8 wickets) 362 for 8 (139.5 overs)
Fall of wickets: 1-87, 2-87, 3-87, 4-219, 5-252, 6-331, 7-333, 8-333.
Did not bat: Jon Holland.
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: Richard Kettleborough and Richard Illingworth, England.
Third umpire: Sundaram Ravi, India.
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle, Sri Lanka.