Australia pull off stunning Boxing Day Test victory

Boxing Day Test, Mitchell Starc, AUSvPAK

The Boxing Day Test has seen nearly everything.

It has seen more or less 141 overs lost to rain. Pakistan batting until lunch on day 3. A cracking double century from Azhar Ali. And Australia winning the unwinnable Test match.

After rain had wasted nearly half of day’s one, two and four play, and Pakistan had scored mammoth 443 in seven weather-affected sessions, there was every chance of no-result scenario. Even Steven Smith thought the result was unlikely.

From the starting moments of final day’s play at the MCG, Pakistan had looked a team worried about defeat, and Australia a side very well aware of its winning probability.

And the ‘Boxing Day Test’ story started to intrigue on the fifth day when Mitchell Starc and Smith came out all guns blazing – with an intent to get enough first innings’ lead that would ensure their bowlers have a go at Pakistan at some stage for some time.

Michell Starc belted Pakistani seamers from the word go, striking seven lusty blows in the process and getting his name written in the record books. He belted 84 runs from 91 balls faced that successfully altered the course of this match.

Australia declared after amassing 624, which is the highest Test match total ever posted at the MCG, scoring 181 runs in surplus.

Boxing Day Test, AUSvPAK
Australia’s second innings’ batting scorecard (Credit: Cricinfo)

Pakistan had to bat for a nervy four-over period before lunch which didn’t help their cause as they lost Sami Aslam when he dragged one onto stumps via body. The first over of the afternoon brought another wicket for Australia as Babar Azam failed to cope with Mitchell Starc’s in-swinging delivery – judged LBW by Ian Gould marginally.

Nathon Lyon, who has been under some scrutiny, responded emphatically by picking up crucial wickets of Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq in the space of a single game-changing spell.

Younis Khan was undone by the extra bounce in the wicket, caught magnificently by Handscomb at short leg inches off the turf, And Misbah – out of sorts all throughout this series – top edged while sweeping the very second ball he faced, handing a catch to Nic Maddinson.

This double fault saw the door wide open for Australia as they also managed to claim the important scalp of in-form Asad Shafiq when he pushed Lyon to Handscomb who barely managed to cling on.

Josh Hazlewood found great lines and precision which resulted in Azhar Ali’s fall. Again, umpire Ian Gould ruled marginally in favor of Australia.

That opened up an end, and when Bird snuck through Amir’s defenses with a quicker delivery, the furious Starc ran through Sarfraz Ahmad to take Australia within the touching distance of a memorable victory.

Later, Starc claimed Yasir Shah and Wahab Riaz to complete what was ‘improbable’ Australian victory.

AUSvPAK, Boxing Day Test
Pakistan’s second innings’ batting scorecard (Credit: Cricinfo)

Australia erupted with joy as the final wicket fell, and understandably so. For the most part of five days of Boxing Day Test match, it seemed like the time was always running short for both sides.

AUSvPAK Boxing Day Test Line-ups

Pakistan XI: Misbah Ul Haq (capt), Azhar Ali, Sami Aslam, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Khan.

Australia XI: David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith (c), Peter Handscomb, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird