27/02/2024

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam receives applause from the Aussies following his epic knock. (Image: cricket.com.au)

A seemingly unstoppable knock from captain Babar Azam and a fine century from Mohammad Rizwan have led Pakistan, against all the odds to bat through 171 overs to salvage an unlikely draw on the final day in Karachi.

A seemingly unstoppable knock from captain Babar Azam and a fine century from Mohammad Rizwan have led Pakistan, against all the odds to bat through 171 overs to salvage an unlikely draw on the final day in Karachi.

Pakistan started Day 5 with a mountain to climb but believed that they could hold on. The biggest run chase in test history stood in front of them. With a draw well within their sights at the start of the day, The Pakistani batters did not give up without a fight.

As only Test cricket can do, the game ebbed and flowed in many different directions before both teams shook hands at the end of the day as the game finished in a draw.

Here are the moments that mattered on Day 5 in Karachi:

Shafique and Babar continue the chase

During the morning session, the third wicket partnership of Abdullah Shafique and Babar Azam continued to be a thorn in the side of the Australians. The pair notched up their 200 run partnership and looked to be in fine form.

Shafique was chasing his second career Test century, after claiming his maiden one in Rawalpindi. But with the lunch break approaching, the Australian captain took it upon himself to come up with a vital breakthrough.

With the clock ticking down to the lunch break, With the new ball not doing anything off the wearing Day 5 wicket, Pat Cummins unleashed his moment of magic.

Cummins found Shafique’s outside edge and after he put down a similarly simple chance yesterday, Steve Smith made no mistake today swallowing the chance at wide first slip to send Shafique on his way for 96, four runs shy of a century in back-to-back Test innings.

Australia watches the match slip away after Lunch

The all-important 2nd session was vital for the Australians to gather more wickets, in hope of a chance of victory before the completion of the day’s play.

Babar notched up his 150 and looked unstoppable.

After Nathan Lyon struck Babar on the pads, The Aussies went upstairs to review. Ball tracking showed that the ball was pitching in line but less than 50% of the ball was hitting the leg stump, and thus ‘umpires call’ spared the Pakistani captain.

Fawad departs, Rizwan settles in as the Draw looms large

Pakistan lost their fourth wicket as the tea break drew nearer, once again at the hand of captain Cummins.

His ball of perfect line and length allowed Fawad Alam to play a shot, which in turn edged on to Alex Carey behind the stumps. His wicket went for a cheap nine runs. As the chances of a result faded away, the breakthrough gave the Aussies another glimmer of hope that they could surge to victory.

Rizwan and Babar steady the ship

Enter Mohammad Rizwan, who enticed stability back into Pakistan’s innings after a couple of important breakthroughs from Cummins, Babar needed a partner who looked like he could stay with him right till the end.

His knock stabled the ship before the final session as Pakistan reached the 300 run mark.

As the final session began, The Draw was the most favourable outcome in this match as Rizwan had settled in with his captain and looked destined to take Pakistan to the end. With all results still on the table.

Rizwan reached his 50 swiftly, clocking up a 100-run partnership between himself and Babar as the runs started to flow.

The pair spent over 40 overs at the crease together, before Nathan Lyon recovered his mojo, disrupting the Pakistani’s plan.

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Babar’s marathon ends as Lyon gives Australia late hope

Babar Azam was charging towards his first test double century and had given his team and his nation the brief thought that he and Rizwan could do the impossible.

But just like that, Nathan Lyon, in his 50th over of the innings found some extra turn which made the unflappable Babar mistakingly flick the ball off his bat, onto his pads, and into the hands of Marnus Labuschagne at bat-pad.

Babar’s brilliant innings was finally brought to an end on 196. He departed to applause from all the Australian fielders acknowledging the brilliant innings and to a subdued yet rapturous ovation by the Karachi crowd.

The innings by the number eight ranked Test batter notched up the highest score by a captain in the fourth innings, among a slew of other impressive records.

The very next ball, Lyon produced more magic when he dismissed Faheem Ashraf for a golden duck. Faheem nicked off to Smith in the slips and suddenly, things were starting to turn Australia’s way.

Lyon picked up the seventh wicket of Sajid Khan who nicked one to Steve Smith again in the slips for nine as Australia dragged themselves closer with time running out.

Rizwan’s moment to savour as Pakistan make it all the way to safety

Rizwan wouldn’t go into his shell with the carnage ensuing at the other end. In the penultimate over of the game, Rizwan went on to the second century of his Test career, becoming only the second Pakistani wicketkeeper to score a ton in the fourth innings.

His brilliance and composure at the crease, alongside Babar and Shafique, helped Pakistan bat out the 171 overs and secure the draw meaning that the series will be level when both sides take the field next week in Lahore for the third and final Test.

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