Pakistan’s brave chase was cut short by Steven Smith’s laser-like throw running Yasir Shah out, allowing Australia to finally breathe a sigh of relief after Pakistan came ever so close to snatching victory from the jaws of humiliating defeat – it was the game Australia had dominated over the first four days and nights at the Gabba.
Pakistan had their sights on—arguably—one of the most remarkable run-chase ever in the history of Test cricket, considering they were written off after a horrible first-innings collapse which saw them all out on 142.
At the start of the fifth and final day, Pakistan required another 108 runs with only two wickets intact, including that of the premier batsmen Asad Shafiq—who played a pivotal role in Pakistan nearly pulling off one of the greatest chases in Test cricket history, if not the greatest.
When Pakistan started off their unlikely chase today, expectations for their victory were low and Gabba gates were open for free admission. There were quite a few ‘vocal’ Pakistani spectators—who made their presence felt in an otherwise deserted stadium—hoping against the hope that the last pair may just see their side home.
Pakistan pair—Asad Shafiq and Yasir Shah together—put up another show of resilience, they defied the Australian bowler’s fiery onslaught for more than 100 minutes today during which they put up another 71 run stand for the ninth wicket with only a false step or two along the way.
Shafiq found off-side gap numerous times while Yasir Shah continued his resilient defending with occasional flourish, including an upper cut over the slips and a flick over mid-wicket off Jackson Bird.
The penultimate pair saw Pakistan came extremely close to what now looked like a possibility of winning. Experts started drawing parallels to the highest successful run-chase (418/7) that was mounted by West Indies in a dead-rubber Test at Antigua. There were whispers of the Edgbaston Test in 2005, where Australia entered the final day with 8 wickets down, eyeing an ‘unlikely’ 107, and ultimately falling short of 3 runs in a nerve-wracking contest.
Only short of mere 41 runs Pakistan was, Mitchell Starc finally found a way to dismiss Asad Shafiq, a throat ball that he could only throw his bat at, resulting in a skier that David Warner was able to cling onto at gully.
After Shafiq’s departure, Shah’s composure seemed to evaporate too, as he swung next ball wildly.
Yasir Shah then inattentively ventured out of his crease on Starc yorker long enough for skipper Smith to rattle the stumps with his bullet throw from second slip and begin ‘relieved’ celebrations.
Pakistan can take a lot of positives going into the Boxing day Test match. The tourists will enjoy those conditions more than Brisbane where there is always a fair, competitive advantage to Australia, and the close result will promote plenty of self-confidence in Pakistani ranks.