Usman Khawaja steals the show as Australia earn A+ in thrilling draw

Denzil Pinto 18:07 11/10/2018
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Centurion: Usman Khawaja

Usman Khawaja scored his seventh Test century as Australia salvaged a deserved and thrilling draw in the first Test against Pakistan on Thursday.

The Baggy Greens went into the fifth and final day at Dubai International Stadium on 136-3 in their second innings, knowing they would have to bat the full 90 overs to save the match and they did exactly that.

Khawaja, who batted nearly the entire day, reached his hundred off 224 balls and when he was trapped lbw by Yasir Shah, he scored 141 runs from 302 deliveries. Yasir later struck twice in one over to remove Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle to set up a frantic finish.

Travis Head (72) scored his maiden Test half-century while Pakistan needed two wickets in the final five overs.  The Men in Green got close to completing the job but skipper Tim Paine (61) and Nathan Lyon (5) ensured the draw to remain unbeaten as Australia finished 362-8.

For Pakistan, Yasir was the pick of the bowlers with 4-114. The teams will meet again in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday for the second and final Test.

Here, we look at the talking points from the final day of the Test.



When Australia needed their batsmen to stand up, they surely did. But one man stole the show and that was Khawaja. Prior to the match, the 31-year-old had scored six Test centuries – all of which came on home soil. Questions were raised whether he could replicate that outside home conditions. On Thursday, we got the answer as the Pakistan-born batsman scored a superb 141. The signs were already there when he scored 85 in the first innings and when the pressure was on, resuming play on 50, went on to score his seventh Test century in 224 balls. Bearing the hot climate, it was a remarkable effort from the opener with former Pakistan international Rameez Raja hailing it as one of the best knocks he’s seen in the UAE. Even when Khawaja was in the 90s, with three fielders on the leg-side, he wasn’t afraid to go for the reverse-sweep, which he has mastered considering the number of times he pulled the shot during the day.


A lot of the talk in the build-up to the first Test was about the threat of leg-spinner Yasir. But in the past four days, the 32-year-old was largely a spectator, going wicketless as Mohammad Abbas and Bilal Asif claimed key wickets. That run ended on the final day when Test debutant Marmus Labuschagne became his first victim to fall after being trapped LBW. After a large spell in which the Aussies dominated, Yasir made the breakthrough again by trapping dangerman Khawaja. He again let the ball do the talking, striking twice in an over to remove Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle.



Given that Pakistan were left seething that they could not wrap up a victory, they will have to do without the services of opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq for the second decisive Test in Abu Dhabi. The 22-year-old fractured his little finger while diving during fielding. His absence will be a huge blow considering he scored 76 runs in the first innings in Dubai.


Having bowled out the tourists in the first innings, Sarfraz would have been confident that his bowlers would complete the job. They nearly did, showing a lot of energy in the last session but that was missing from the very first ball as they allowed Australian batsmen to settle and pile on the runs.


60.3 – CHANCE

Travis Head comes out and attempts to sweep Yasir Shah. Fails to get contact but umpire doesn’t raise his finger.

61.4 – FIFTY

Head hits a single off Bilal Asif to bring up his maiden Test fifty.

77.5 – CHANCE

Usman Khawaja survives a review. Tries to defend the ball but misses it completely. Umpires gives it not out but TV replays show, Khawaja got just outside the line for the impact to stay umpire’s call.

80.1 – WICKET

Mohammad Hafeez gets his first wicket of the day, trapping Head for LBW.


Usman Khawaja tucks Mohammad Hafeez away for a single to bring up his century off 224 deliveries.

11 10 Usman Khawaja

125.3 – WICKET

It’s a big one as Yasir traps Khawaja for 141. The batsman reviews it but goes against him.


It came inside the first hour of play and Pakistan will be thinking of what could have been had Sarfraz Ahmed reviewed Travis Head’s LBW off Yasir. The debutant misread the delivery by trying the sweep and was fortunate not to be dismissed as TV replays showed the ball was hitting the middle stump with the debutant on 44. Head went on to score 72 which set the platform for Australia’s draw.



The result will feel like a defeat especially given they were so close. It was up to the bowlers to complete the job and while Yasir’s late wickets put Australia under pressure, it was a matter of too little too late.


Not many people would have given Australia hope when stumps was called on Wednesday. But the manner of how Paine and Co approached the innings and pulled off the draw deserves recognition. With three wickets down, the Aussies faced a gigantic task but Khawaja led the way while Paine and Nathan Lyon showed grit and determination to grind out a result even when the centurion departed.

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