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The Brisbane Chase - Lost the game, but won the hearts

23 December, 2016

There are not many teams in the world which have challenged the Australian team in their own backyard.

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There aren’t many teams in the world which have challenged the Australian team in their own backyard.

There aren’t many teams in the world which have challenged the Australian team in their own backyard.

Over the years, many teams have visited down under in this part of the year but beating Australia on their home soil remains one of the most difficult bets in International cricket. But Pakistan have once again justified why they are still the most ‘unpredictable’ side in the International arena. Such erratic was their performance that they actually caught Australia napping and made them run for their money.

Pakistan injected excitement back into the one-sided Brisbane Test and made a stunning comeback to attempt a marvellous world record chase of 490. And they almost pulled it off, coming back from 142 all out in their first innings to requiring just 41 runs off last two wickets. The Pakistani batsmen displayed sheer determination and kept at bay; one of the world’s best bowling attack. It’s interesting to see how things unfolded.

Pakistan had a bad start to the match, losing the toss on the first day and Australian Captain Steven Smith deciding to make optimum use of the lively batting surface. Thanks to Australian opener Matt Renshaw (71), the hosts got a good start before Captain Smith (130) and Peter Handscomb (105) helped the pile up 172 runs for the fourth wicket. By the time Mohammed Amir and Wahab Riaz could find their way into opposition’s defence, Australia managed a handsome 429 all out in their first innings. With the Australians on a high, they were keen to check these great bingo bonuses in celebration.

The Pakistani batting display was more like a pack of cards coming down as Australian bowlers simply blew them away. From a cautious 43-1, they slipped to 67-8 in no time before finally ending up on 142 all out. It was a big embarrassment for a team which held the No.1 Test Crown earlier this year. For a team that had never played a home test since 2009, every test was ‘away test’ and they had many promises to deliver.

By not enforcing follow-on and batting in their second innings, Australia tightened their grip on the match by scoring at a brisk rate and piling up runs on the board. A tired Pakistani bowling attack went clueless as Usman Khawaja (74) and Captain Smith (63) propelled Australia to 202-5 in 39 overs before declaring their innings. On the third day, about halfway- stage of the five day game, Pakistan were set a daunting target of 490 to win the test match.

With their first innings slump still fresh in their memory, it was all about how much time Pakistan could survive in the middle. Chasing 490 in the fourth innings against Australia was like an impossible task. But saving the test by playing till the end was also an unlikely outcome. At the end of Day 3, the visitors were 70-2, still looking at full two days of play and trailing behind 420 runs with 8 wickets in hand.

But much to everyone’s surprise, Pakistan came out with all guns blazing. Azhar Ali (71) and Younis Khan (65) provided the platform for the record chase while Asad Shafiq played a mentor’s role with his flourishing 137 off 207 balls giving Australia a real scare in the match. Mohammad Amir (48) and Wahab Riaz (33) too chipped in with the bat as Pakistan came as close as only 39 runs from the target. They were bowled out for 450 and lost the game but won the hearts of many around the world. The kind of courage and determination they put up is an example to many.

Australia may have had the last laugh but clearly, Pakistan won all the hearts. The two teams will clash again, click here for the odds comparison, in the second test at Boxing Day Test at Melbourne on Dec 25, 2016.

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