For Pakistan, it was a draw that felt like a defeat. They began the Test with a double century opening stand and never relinquished the ascendancy, but still couldn't force a win.
Having given themselves the best part of five sessions to force a win, Pakistan looked well set when they took three wickets with the score on 87, Australia still 375 runs from their target.
But Australia gritted and battled, and managed to defy the Pakistani attack, eventually reaching the close on the fifth day eight wickets down. However, while there was a good deal of relief from the Australian team, their captain Tim Paine said that the thrilling finish didn’t make up for their poor play earlier in the Test.
“It doesn’t feel like a win,” he said. “We were outplayed. We’re proud to get something out of it, but we can play a lot better in the next Test. It was a really tough five days. Pakistan played outstandingly well and put us under pressure from the first day. For us to get a draw out of that from where we came from at one stage on the third day is an outstanding effort from our group and we can be very proud of that.”
Though there is plenty to improve on, Paine was pleased with the heart his team showed. “We want to be a team that fights all the time and never gives in. I think we can take a lot of belief out of what’s happened in the last few days and take that through to the next Test with confidence.”
He also never felt hope was completely lost, even when Australis began their final innings. He credited Usman Khawaja’s mammoth 141 as “one of the best innings you’ll see anywhere in Test cricket”.
“I was hopeful,” he said. “I thought we’d have to bat really well and I thought we’d need someone to get a massive hundred and I think we did. I think Usman played one of the best innings you’ll ever see anywhere in Test cricket. On that wicket on day five, he really showed guts, and determination, but he also showed the high level of skill he’s got. While he was there I was always confident that we could get through.
“It was an amazing innings, full of everything you’d want from a Test match innings. People will talk about how much he fought and the conditions, but it was amazing batting with him to see just how good he is in that skill sense.”
Paine himself could take a lot of credit for the draw, facing 194 balls for his 61*, but was understandably less effusive about his own knock. “I was just trying to bat for as long as I could, there was no real secret to it. I was just trying to watch the ball as hard as I could and play straight.”
The second Test begins on Tuesday, 16 October at Abu Dhabi.
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