Great escape! Aussies hold on for draw
USMAN Khawaja entered his name into the record books on Thursday night as he anchored the greatest save in Australian Test history with the defining performance of his career.
In one of the most thrilling finishes to a Test in recent memory, Australia's second last pairing Tim Paine and Nathan Lyon hung on for the dramatic 13 over final stretch to secure a draw for the ages against Pakistan in Dubai.
Paine produced a stunning captain's knock of 61 off 194 and No.10 Lyon stuck around for an unbeaten 5 off 34 as Australia finished 8-362 off a record 140 overs and ensured they go into the second and final Test in Abu Dhabi next week with their belief sky-high.
Players embraced in the dugout as Paine secured the save with a block off the penultimate ball.
Australia's sporting fabric of playing hard but fair was shattered by the events in South Africa earlier this year.
But in their first Test outing since 'Sandpapergate', Justin Langer's new-look side restored pride.
Paine was nearly bowled by Yasir Shah and Lyon nearly edged on off Mohammad Abbas in a desperate finale.
Pakistan crowded the bat at the death and with every ball that passed the edge, or struck the pads, all eyes centred on the umpires with both sides having burnt all their reviews.
But with only Jon Holland sitting in the shed, Australia showed extraordinary courage under fire to pull off a rescue mission that can set the tone for how a bold new side forged on character will play their cricket.
Khawaja's epic 141 off 302 deliveries started out as his maiden ton in Asia, but finished among the best innings ever played by an Australian batsman.
The brave opener departed after the final drinks break with just under 15 overs to face, but his 542 minutes at the crease goes down as the second longest ever in a fourth innings.
The 140 overs Australia survived from midway through day four on a deteriorating deck and in stifling heat, stands tall as the most overs any home grown side has faced to save a Test.
.@Uz_Khawaja:— Fox Sports Lab (@FoxSportsLab) October 11, 2018
- Highest score by an overseas batsman in the 4th innings of a Test in Asia
- Highest score by any batsman in the 4th innings of a Test in the UAE
- His highest Test score outside of Australia
- Averages 150.00 as a Test opener; 2 centuries and 2 fifties#PAKvAUS pic.twitter.com/hBimUFckqJ
Khawaja's nearly 13 hours out in the middle over the course of the match (after making a first innings 85) was truly remarkable given the oppressive conditions and his history of failings in Asia.
Having already negotiated 50 overs on day four, Australia arrived for battle 3-136 and knowing that one wicket could bring everything crashing down.
Khawaja and Travis Head combined for a gutsy 137-run partnership but shortly after lunch the debutant from South Australia was trapped lbw to Mohammad Hafeez for 72.
Fellow rookie Marnus Labuschagne came and went for 13, leaving it to Khawaja and captain Tim Paine to forge the long road to home with still the best part of 50 overs to the finish line.
With 15 overs left Australia suddenly emerged as favourites with five wickets at their disposal, but when Khawaja was struck lbw by leg-spinner Yasir Shah immediately after the final drinks break, wind was put back in Pakistan's sails.
Shah created havoc in his next over as he sent Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle packing within four deliveries to bring Nathan Lyon to the crease.
The catch to remove Starc was purely spectacular - a diving one-handed grab by Babar Azam at bat pad.
Back in 2012-13 in Adelaide, Faf du Plessis defied Australia for 148 overs in one of the great Test match draws. But this was every bit the equivalent.
Mark Waugh labels this hand from Usman Khawaja as “career-defining”. Hard to argue. Great effort from Australia after a calamitous first innings. #PAKvAUS— Luke D'Anello (@LukeDAnello) October 11, 2018
Before this Test, Khawaja had played five previous Tests in Asia for a combined 117 runs, but his breakout performance in Dubai - longer and more fruitful than his entire output prior - acted as further evidence that he could have a new career as an opening batsman.
With his seventh career ton Khawaja became just the fifth Australian to score a fourth innings century in Asia after Bob Simpson did it in Pakistan, Mark Taylor in India and Ricky Ponting and David Warner in Bangladesh.
The fact Queensland captain Khawaja, perhaps the most established batsman in the Australian top order wasn't even nominated by his peers for leadership positions within the side announced a fortnight ago was a surprising revelation.
But coach Justin Langer's mandate was for players to stand up and lead regardless of whether they had a title next to their name, and Khawaja has sent a powerful message to teammates with his actions in Dubai.
Khawaja has shed 7kg in the past few months in a sacrifice that showed Langer he meant business.
And now under the pressure of his history of failure in spinning Asian conditions, Khawaja has stood up to be counted.
In the moment of reckoning in the first Test since sandpapergate, Khawaja has shown he is now the best batsman in this revamped Australian side.
Australian second innings
Aaron Finch lbw b Abbas 49
Usman Khawaja lbw b Shah 141
Shaun Marsh c Ahmed b Abbas 0
Mitchell Marsh lbw b Abbas 0
Travis Head lbw b Hafeez 72
Marnus Labuschagne lbw b Shah 13
Tim Paine not out 61
Mitchell Starc c Azam b Shah 1
Peter Siddle lbw b Shah 0
Nathan Lyon not out 5
Extras: (13b, 4lb, 3nb) 20
TOTAL: (for 8 wickets) 362
Fall of wickets: 1-87, 2-87, 3-87, 4-219, 5-252, 6-331, 7-333, 8-333. Did not bat: Jon Holland.
Bowling: Mohammad Abbas 27-7-56-3, Mohammad Hafeez 6-0-29-1, Yasir Shah 43.5-9-114-4, Wahab Riaz 16-3-42-0 (3nb), Bilal Asif 37-8-87-0, Haris Sohail 9-1-16-0, Asad Shafiq 1-0-1-0.
Result: Match drawn.
Umpires: Richard Kettleborough and Richard Illingworth, England. Third umpire: Sundaram Ravi, India.
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle, Sri Lanka.