Babar Azam 196, Mohammad Rizwan 104* as Pakistan draw Karachi Test against Australia in thrilling finish

Muhammad Rizwan and Babar Azam

Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam scored a wonderful 196 while Mohammad Rizwan remained undefeated with 104 as the hosts drew the Karachi test against Australia. In a tight finish on Wednesday, Pakistan went from 392-4 to 414-7. However, Rizwan and Nauman Ali (0*) added 29 runs in 7.4 overs to lead the team to safety.

Azam, who resumed his innings at 102, kept the hosts’ chances of saving the Test alive with a sublime strike. He faced 425 deliveries during his marathon stroke, hitting 21 fours and one six.

Chasing an unlikely 506 for victory, Pakistan began Day 5 with 192 for 2. Abdullah Shafique, who was undefeated with 71 overnight, lost his century by four runs. The well-placed hitter threw a Pat Cummins pass outside and passed a catch to Steve Smith. The latter, who had dropped the batsman at 20 on Day 4, made no mistake this time.

Fawad Alam (9) also perished financially against the Australian captain, but Azam found great company in his reliable limited opening partner Rizwan. The duo frustrated Australia, showing up on a 115-run finish for fifth wicket. The Pakistan captain appeared to be in total control of his innings, scoring a well-earned 150 by working with Nathan Lyon for a short-leg single.

Even after losing Shafique and Alam, Azam kept his composure. However, the batsman from Pakistan enjoyed incredible luck. At 161, he was dropped in consecutive deliveries on an over by Mitchell Swepson. After Travis Head scored a dumb half-half leading edge, Marnus Labuschagne dropped Azam short leg forward on the next pitch.

Rizwan, who was cautious in the first session, opened up after tea and hit debutant Swepson to back-to-back limits. Not to be outdone, Azam stepped out of his line and launched Lyon for a maximum. He followed up a look at the leg to finish the over when Pakistan showed some intent.

The Pakistan captain looked poised for $200 when he died against Lyon. The Aussie spinner lobbed one up, and Azam ended up giving a meek bat-pad catch to a cheerful Labuschagne on the short forward leg.

Although the batsman failed to complete his 200, he recorded the highest fourth-innings score by a Test captain, beating Michael Atherton (185* against South Africa in 1995). He also had the highest score by a Pakistani batsman in the fourth inning, seventh best overall by any batsman.

Rizwan guides Pakistan after Azam’s dismissal

Babar Azam’s dismissal was followed by a golden duck for Faheem Ashraf, who outclassed Lyon and boosted Australia’s hopes of a famous win. Sajid Khan (9) also fell to the tricky decenterer, overcoming a catch in the slippery region. There must have been some butterflies in the Pakistani camp. However, Rizwan made sure that his and Azam’s blows were not in vain.

The batsman-goalie kept finding bounds at regular intervals and even slapped a full pitch from Swepson for a max over the square back. Australia had a chance to return Rizwan at 91. However Usman Khawaja dropped the offer in additional coverage, Swepson was once again the unlucky bowler.

Muhammad Rizwan took his hundred from the last delivery of the penultimate over with a single from Lyon in the extra over. Nauman Ali did not score any runs but helped Rizwan to a tie by avoiding 18 deliveries as Pakistan commendably batted to save the test.

Australia had their moments in the game. Usman Khawaja’s 160 set things up for them, and his pitchers were brilliant in downing Pakistan for 148 in the first few innings. However, they will regret the missed chances that could have altered the final result.

Brief scores: Australia (556/9 decl. and 97/2 decl) drew with Pakistan (148 and 443/7).

Both teams will now meet again at the third test in Lahore starting on March 21.

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