‘Resilient’ Shafiq keeps Pakistan afloat at Gabba

Gabba, Test Match

Pakistan came close to a perfect day-four finish before Jackson Bird got one delivery to shape away in the final over of the day taking the outside edge of Wahab Riaz, leaving Pakistan at 382/8 – requiring another 108 with only two wickets left in the bank.

Australians were well on their way to close this Test match in four days. Their hopes were undone by the combination of unprecedented and some outstanding display of character shown by the tourists on day 4, Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali in particular.

Australia set Pakistan remarkable 490 runs to win the Gabba Test—a total, if achieved, would be the biggest chase of all time comfortably, keeping in mind Pakistan bundled out for 142 in their first innings.

Pakistan started off their day with Azhar Ali and Younis Khan at the crease, they both looked cautious in the early session, but regularly found the fence. Azhar Ali made a swift 71 before Starc claimed his wicket, and the ‘veteran’ Younis Khan(who has the record of most fourth-innings hundred than anyone else) seemed to find his method working once again.

Younis Khan looked unflinching in his 147 ball stay at the crease before pulling out what looked like a premeditated reverse sweep off the bowling of Nathon Lyon. Ball ballooned up in the air before brushing his bat via body, handing a simple catch behind stumps to Steven Smith.

Misbah looked uncertain with his footwork and touched a wide ball that resulted in his dismissal.

Sarfraz Ahmad then partnered with Asad Shafiq to show attacking intent in the lead-up to the dinner interval, and on resumption Smith reprieved Sarfraz when he spilled an edge off Josh Hazlewood’s away swinger. Australia had to wait for another 5 runs before Starc ripped through the defenses of Sarfraz Ahmad with a hint of inswing.

Shafiq and Amir then put up another 94-run stand, contributing further to the Australian worries and dragging this game to the final day. Amir was fluent in his method and it seemed strange that he did not possess a half-century at this level. They both stroke a fluent partnership before Bird found the edge of Amir which was safely collected in the slip cordon.

Shafiq managed to continue his fighting spirit with Wahab—who looked shaky in the beginning— and tore into the Australian bowlers once again. Shafiq and Wahab both demonstrated a sound technique and positive mindset in the extra hour of play, which was allotted owing to rain interruptions during the day time. Extra 8 overs were allotted owing to the fact that the umpires thought the match could end, but the Pakistanis were more than capable of playing those overs.

Asad Shafiq steered the tail magnificently and smashed his century moments before the close of play when he slashed one through point to bring up this milestone. He has also broken the long-held record of Sir Gary Sobers (who previously scored 8 centuries batting at number 6).

Pakistan came extremely close to finishing the day with 3 wickets intact, but Jackson Bird claimed Wahab Riaz in the final over of the day. Pakistanis went to stumps requiring another 108 runs.

Pakistan, Cricket, Day 4, Gabba
Pakistan 2nd Innings Bating Scorecard at stumps, Day 4
Australia’s Second Innings Bowling Scorecard at stumps, Day 4

 


(photo credit: RaeAllen IMGP7428 via photopin)

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