Brisbane Was the Test Match of the Year
Brisbane cricket fixture, ending Monday morning, was the Test match of the year. It will be remembered for the world record second innings chase by Pakistan, the previous best being 440 by New Zealand against England at Nottingham in 1973. The Aussies won, but only for record, while Pakistan’s heroics will be written in annals of history with golden words. Pakistan showed grit and courage and almost came close to registering what would have been a remarkable win.
The host team was nervous and sweating. But, more important was the cheers and backing of the Pakistan fight back by the Australian spectators, who seemed eager for a Pakistani win, and looked clearly disappointed to see the visitors go down fighting just 39short of themammoth target of 490.
Tributes flowed from such greats as Imran Khan, Shoaib Akhtar, Waseem Akram, who all confessed they had lost hope but saw the battle being won alongwith the hearts of the Pakistanis and fans the world over. Pakistan’s performance was really great, something out of this world, beyond all expectations and description.
While analysts and some of the most enlightened and reputed cricket writers of the world looked astonished and happy the way Pakistani bounced back in the game, Skipper MisbahulHaq explained that the pink ball under lights on the first night was a bit uncomfortable and was the principal reason for the dismissal of the team for a mere 142 runs in the first innings to Australians’ total of 429. Misbah could well be right, but Pakistanis had a 15-day practice session, and had already played under lights and with the pink ball against the Kiwis, prior to the test match in Australia.
The responsibility shown by opener Azhar, Yunus Khan, whose first innings failure, and before that, cheap scores against New Zealand, was a major source of worry for the organizers and fans at home, but he collected 65 beautiful runs, partnering for 91 with Azhar for the third wicket. Then came the astounding, incredible performance from the tail-enders.
AsadShafiq, scored his 9 th hundred at number six, a feat demanding enormous praise, a performance which even Sir Gary Sobers could not register for himself. The young batsman was associated with three important partnerships—91 with Yunus Khan for the 3 rd wicket, for 92 with Amir Khan, and again for 66 with WahabRiaz, and 61 with Yasir Shah. The fact that the tail wagged and took Pakistan almost ashore, does demand special mention.
The very fact that from start to finish, everyone realized the heavy responsibility resting on their shoulders and delivered what was not expected of them is indeed heart-warming. Amir (5 fours in his 48), WahabRiaz(2 fours and two sixes in his 30), and Yasir standing solidly for the ninth wicket, augurs well for the coming two Tests of the 3-Test series.
Pakistan batting has begun to fight back, something the team and the country had been waiting for since long. In bowling, Amir replied to critics like leg spinner Abdul Qadir, and former skipper and wicket-keeper Moin Khan with 5 wickets in the match—4 for 97 in the first innings and solitary skull in the second, and WahabRiaz who too took 4 for 89 in theAustralian first innings. Both Qadir and Moin wanted Amir’s exit but all praise to WasimAkramwho kept saying that Amir is a great bowler and suffered from poor fielding. Dropped catches in New Zealand and Brisbane, deprived him of what could have been more feathers in the cap.
Pakistan needs to improve its catching especially in the slip cordon. The coming two Test matches will be interesting. Pakistanis have learnt to bounce back and the fear factor of bouncy wickets or swinging deliveries should now be over. Pakistanis are rightly jubilant and proud of their team’s performance.