Shahid Afridi lauds Australia's 'top effort' as the visitors forced a draw against Pakistan

Shahid Afridi lauds Australia’s ‘top effort’ as the visitors forced a draw against Pakistan

It was a monstrous task ahead of the Aussies to save the Test but they put up an amazing effort.

Shahid Afridi
Shahid Afridi. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Former Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi congratulated the Australians for enforcing a draw against Pakistan in the first Test in Dubai. The visitors were staring down the barrel at the end of Day 4 when they were 3 down and needed another 300 runs to win the game. However, it was opener Usman Khawaja who scripted a great escape for the Aussies along with his captain Tim Paine.

Khawaja scored over 220 runs in the Test to keep Pakistan at bay, while Paine himself remained unbeaten on 61 when the game came to a close. Electing to bat first after winning the toss, Pakistan unleashed their veteran batting star Mohammad Hafeez, who, making a comeback, scored a sparkling 126 to set the tone for the Test.

Haris Sohail followed suit with a century himself and an 80 from Asad Shafiq meant the hosts posted 482 in the first innings, having exhausted the Australians in the desert heat. There was more heat to face though for Tim Paine’s group of inexperienced cricketers, as debutant off-spinner Bilal Asif tore through their middle order. He finished the innings with figures of 6 for 36, while Mohammad Abbas picked up the remaining four to dismiss Australia for a mere 202.

Sarfraz Ahmed, however, decided against enforcing the follow-on and out came Imam-ul-Haq and Hafeez once again. Pakistan declared the innings after their lead crossed 460, giving the Australians over a day and a half to chase down the runs or survive.

Khawaja, Head and Paine stars of the final day’s toil

But the Aussies lost 3 key wickets towards the end of the penultimate day. Khawaja was still unbeaten though alongside debutant Travis Head. The duo continued to build on their partnership from where they’d left off and soon put together a match-saving century stand.

After Head departed, the skipper Paine took charge with the aim of see Australia through till the end of day’s play. So he did, and although his side were 8 down in the final minutes of the day, he stood firm at one end. The match was eventually drawn, much to the disappointment of the Pakistani fans, but Khawaja and Paine received due credit for their brave knocks to save the Test for Australia.

Afridi took to Twitter to praise the visitors, and said this was ‘Test cricket at its best.’ “Great performance Usman Khawaja! Top effort by Australian team in very tough situation. This was Test cricket at it’s best. Pakistan dominated the Test and should continue with same attitude in Abu Dhabi for 2nd Test. All the best boys,” he wrote.

Both teams will take each other on in the second and final Test of the series in Abu Dhabi from October 16.

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