Usman Khawaja produced the second longest fourth innings in Test history to guide Australia to a sensational draw against Pakistan in Dubai.
The opener batted and battled for 524 minutes with only Mike Atherton having stayed at the crease for longer when he saw off the South Africans for 643 minutes at Johannesburg in 1995.
Having been set 464 runs to win the entire team’s effort can be measured by the fact that Australia’s 8-362 is the highest score made by any team in the fourth innings playing away to Pakistan and the longest Test innings by Australia in Asia.
When the drinks came to mark the final hour’s play Australia had worked themselves into a good position at 5-331 with Khawaja on 141 and Tim Paine 40. Three overs later and Yasir Shah had taken three wickets in eight deliveries and Australia was left to hang on in a gripping finale.
Australia had gone into the final day with hope of batting through it and taking something out of the Test. The pitch hadn’t broken up as much as had been expected as during the first four days as it had been baked hard under the Dubai sun. The bowlers footmarks offered some support to the spinners but the turn was mostly slow and predictable.
Khawaja and Travis Head had batted well together at the end of day four putting together 49 runs for the fourth wicket and it was going to important that they pair continued where they had left off.
Head was struggling when he played the sweep shot and it was almost his undoing when he could have fallen lbw for 44 if Pakistan had used a review. As it was the fourth wicket pair took their partnership right through the first session as Australia went to lunch on 3-215 with Khawaja on 82 and Head 70.
The new ball was due one over after lunch and Sarfraz Ahmed surprised by deciding to take it immediately and asking Mohammad Hafeez, who hadn’t bowled all morning, to have first use of it.
The very first delivery with the hard ball skidded on and, having allowed for turn, Head was trapped lbw for 72 to end a 132 run fourth wicket partnership (4-219).
Khawaja had scored 85 in the first innings, his highest score in Asia. This time he went on to make a hundred, his seventh in Tests with his prolonged celebrations showing how much it meant to him after the work that he’d been putting it to get used to the conditions.
Marnus Labuschagne, like Head, had failed to score in his debut innings but this time he got off the mark but, on 13, he also fell to a delivery that failed to turn with Yasir finally taking his first wicket in the match (5-252).
Tim Paine had a few nervous moments when he first came to the crease but once he’d settled he and Khawaja dug in and saw Australia through to tea at 5-289. Having lost only two wickets in the first two sessions they were becoming more confident of pulling off an unlikely draw.
Paine helped Khawaja see the game through to the final hour when Australia was 5-331 having only lost three wickets all day.
After 4 long days in tough conditions, to come out and save the game on Day 5 like that is determination personified. Colossal knock @Uz_Khawaja, @tdpaine36 @travishead34 brilliant support and @NathLyon421 nerves of steel! Series alive. Love these boys!! 👏🏼— Pat Cummins (@patcummins30) October 11, 2018
That is a magnificent effort by our boys in the baggy green. Great fighting qualities and Khawaja one of the best tons you will ever see.#cmon— Mark Waugh (@juniorwaugh349) October 11, 2018
Yasir then came into his own. His second delivery of the period finally removed Khawaja lbw for 141 with Australia having little choice but to use their last review to check the decision (6-331).
In his next over Yasir removed Mitchell Starc for 1 to a sensational catch at short-leg by Babar Azam (7-333). Three balls later and Peter Siddle made the mistake of going back to the leg-spinner and fell lbw without scoring. Yasir had taken 3 wickets in eight balls (8-333).
Nathan Lyon is not one to shirk a challenge and he seemed to relish the chance of saving the Test with his captain. His front foot technique came into it’s own as he saw off every challenge that Yasir and the other bowlers could provide.
In fading light, with fielders all around the bat appealing for any half chance and with the ball spinning and gripping Lyon, 5, and Paine, 61, somehow held out for 12.1 overs and secured an incredible, unlikely draw.