Top 3 Pakistan-Australia encounters

Australia v Pakistan - 1st Test: Day 5
Australia v Pakistan - 1st Test: Day 5
Aditya Joshi

Pakistan and Australia have maintained a fierce rivalry in Test cricket for the last few decades. While Australia have been the dominant side across the world for the better part of that period, Pakistan have always been the kind of team who don't shy away from punching above their weight. The former is ruthless and operates on a machinery of traditional excellence, while the latter shocks their opponents in spurts, and rides on unorthodox cricket.

As the bridge between the two sides has decreased over the last few years, the contests have started getting closer. What has always made their rivalry special is Pakistan's tendency to emulate the Aussies, while at the same time retaining their own aura of unpredictability.

Remember when they almost sneaked home chasing 482 against Australia at their invincible fortress of "The Gabba"?

We look at three other such clashes where the nerves ran high.

#3 Melbourne, 1979: Sarfaraz Nawaz stuns rampant Aussies

On their first Test of the 1979 tour down under, Pakistan were pitted against a side that although weakened by a significant number of losses to the World Series League, was still a good outfit playing in familiar conditions. Nevertheless, the always ambitious Pakistanis were on the look for a good blow in the opening round of the two match duel.

Sarfraz Nawaz
Sarfraz Nawaz

Batting first, they were given a harsh welcome to the country by local lad Rodney Hogg to leave them in tatters at 4/40. With useful contributions from a certain future Prime Minister and Sarfaraz Nawaz in the lower order, the visitors gathered 198 runs in their first innings.

It was then Imran Khan's turn to do a Hogg as his four wickets, three of them top order batsmen, ripped the heart out of the Australian batting. Dav Whatmore's fighting 47 made in over three hours against hostile pace bowling brought the hosts to a 30 run deficit.

As the pitch got better for batting, Pakistani opener Majid Khan made the most of it by scoring an imperious 108 to set things up. His seemingly unstoppable innings was brought to a halt by the part time spin of Allan Border. Another lower order fight set Australia 382 runs to win.

The hosts were a little taken aback at the enormity of the task and after a top order hiccup, Border and Kim Hughes took them to 3/305. Then, Border, batting on 105, had his stumps uprooted by Nawaz, who then went on to claim six more wickets in that astonishing spell for a solitary run conceded.

Australia, all out for 310, were truly left gaping at what just happened to them.

#2 Sydney, 2009: Pakistan self-destruct amid pink

After the disaster at Melbourne in the Boxing Day Test, Pakistan came back in a style only they could have, only to nosedive into depths greater than the heights they had attained.

Australia, following the suit of sanity, batted first at the SCG but were taken aback by the heat of the Pakistani bowling. Mohammad Sami, in his first four overs of the match, sent back to pavilion a top order comprising Shane Watson, Phil Hughes and Ricky Ponting for 6, 0 and 0. Mohammad Asif backed that up with a big of six wickets of his own as Australia mustered only 127, runs you would want in the first session of a Sydney Test.

A solid batting effort, highlighted by fifties from the openers Salman Butt and Imran Farhat, whose 109 run opening stand gave Pakistan a massive first innings lead of 206.

Despite Shane Watson's flamboyant 97, Australia were down and out against Danish Kaneria, having lost eight wickets with their lead only amounting to 51. Mike Hussey, the ultimate man to manage a disaster, scored an unbeaten 134, supported by Peter Siddle's 117 ball vigil for 37 runs.

Second Test - Australia v Pakistan: Day 4
Second Test - Australia v Pakistan: Day 4

Still, set only 176 to chase, Pakistan got off to a rollicking start, racing at a run a ball in the first six overs. After Mitchell Johnson's double breakthrough, Nathan Hauritz bowled a brave extended spell with the highlight being him enticing Pakistani batsmen to make errors despite it being a small chase.

As panic set in, Pakistan lost their last five wickets, four of them to Hauritz (who took a five-for), for 36 runs to stumble to 139 all out and recording one of their more freakish losses, as a pink painted Sydney relished an all-time classic pendulum encounter.

#1 Dubai, 2018: Langer's "New" Australia tough it out in desert

Pakistan v Australia: 1st Test - Day Five
Pakistan v Australia: 1st Test - Day Five

In the aftermath of the Newlands scandal, Australia hit an all-time low. A record loss in the final match of that series, followed by the nightmares of white ball in England, coupled with sandpaper jibes rattled their build up to their redemption series against Pakistan in the UAE.

Before the series, newly installed coach Justin Langer in his first Test assignment, asked only one thing of Australians, to play tough, determined cricket. And that is exactly what they did, but not without their initial lack of belonging in the contest at all.

Pakistan, batting first in the heat of Dubai, sentenced the Australian bowlers to seemingly endless toil. The first wicket took 318 balls to fall, the longest Australia have waited in their history. Centuries from comeback man Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail helped Pakistan get to 482. But given the opening partnership of 205, it certainly could have been more, had it not been for Australia's immensely disciplined bowling in unfriendly climes.

In reply, debutant Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja (opening for the first time in Asia), hit their strides with a 142 run opening stand. Retaliating was another debutant, Pakistan's Bilal Asif, who puzzled the Aussies with his doosras to take 6/36. Ten wickets fell for 60 runs. Not enforcing the follow-on, Pakistan did the customary extension of their first innings lead to set Australia 462 in four sessions.

After Mohammad Abbas ruined Australia's good start by taking three wickets to send the score from 0/87 to 3/87, including ducks for the Marsh brothers, Usman Khawaja came into a groove of his own. Supported by Travis Head and Tim Paine, he batted through 127 overs of the innings to score an incredible 141. His wicket to Yasir Shah in the last session of play opened the gates for two more and suddenly an easy draw turned into negotiating 12 tricky overs with only two wickets left.

Tim Paine, in an effort no less heroic than any of the first innings centuries or Khawaja's ton, faced 197 balls to bat Australia to safety. Langer had prophesied, his new Australia delivered, not just a relieving draw, but a promise of reincarnation.

Edited by Sai Krishna


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