Khawaja’s epic hundred keeps Australian hopes alive
Usman Khawaja scored arguably the finest century of his career – his first in Asia – to keep Pakistan at bay on Day Five of the first Test against Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Khawaja (122 not out, 268 balls, 11 fours), who came into this series with a best Test score of 26 in Asia, silenced his critics with a brilliant hundred on a difficult wicket to bat against a quality bowling attack.
Despite losing two wickets after lunch, Khawaja, who became the fifth Australian to score a fourth innings hundred in Asia, defended brilliantly while never missing out on an opportunity to score as Australia reached 289/5 at tea.
Australia now need to survive another 31 overs to secure a draw.
Captain Tim Paine was batting on 19 (83 balls, 1 four).
Earlier, Mohammad Hafeez broke the 130-run partnership between Khawaja and debutant Travis Head (72, 175 balls, 5 fours) when he had Head lbw in the second over after lunch.
And when Yasir Shah dismissed the other debutant, Larnus Labuschagne (13), nine overs after the fall of Head, it raised Pakistani hopes of sparking another Australian collapse.
But Khawaja and Paine ensured their team would have a chance to save the Test in the final session.
In the morning session, Pakistan failed to take a single wicket.
Resuming at the overnight score of 136/3, Australia reached 215/3 at lunch with Khawaja and Head, who had a first innings duck, handling the Pakistani bowlers very well.
Khawaja and Head used soft hands to deal with the spinners – Yasir and Bilal Asif.
While Wahab Riaz was largely ineffective, Mohammad Abbas did trouble the batsmen every now and then.
But Pakistan missed a chance to take the DRS when Yasir caught Head in front of the wicket just before the drinks break. The review showed the ball that pitched on the line would have hit the middle stump.
That was not the only error of judgement from Pakistan captain in the final day morning session.
Sarfraz Ahmed probably also missed a trick by not starting the day with his best bowler in the second innings – Abbas.
The right-arm pace bowler was brought in only in the 16th over of the day, and by then, the Australian batsmen had already started to feel confident about their game.
At stumps on day four, Australia were 136/3 in 50 overs with Khawaja and Head surviving intense pressure from Pakistan bowlers after Abbas took three quick wickets.
Earlier, Pakistan declared their second innings at 181/6 in the second session of the fourth day, setting Australia a target of 462.
The second match of the two-Test series will be played in Abu Dhabi (October 16-20).
The Test series will be followed by a three-match T20I series (Abu Dhabi, October 24, and Dubai, October 26 and October 28).
Pakistan first innings 482
Australia first innings 202
Pakistan second innings 181/6
Australia second innings
Aaron Finch lbw Abbas 49
Usman Khawaja batting 122
Shaun Marsh c Sarfraz b Abbas 0
Mitchell Marsh lbw Abbas 0
Travis Head lbw Hafeez 72
Marnus Labuschagne lbw Yasir 13
Tim Paine batting 19
Extras: (9 b, 4 lb, 1 nb) 14
Total (for five wickets, 109 overs) 289
Fall of wickets: 1/87, 2/87, 3/87, 4/219, 5/252
Bowling: Abbas 10-4-39-3; Hafeez 6-0-29-1; Yasir 32-3-90-1; Wahab 13-3-28-0; Asif 28-6-73-0; Sohail 9-1-16-0, Asad Shafiq 1-0-1-0.