Since the advent of the 21st century, Cricket has evolved wondrously, and its global repute has improved greater than it had ever done before. What hasn’t reciprocated is Pakistan’s fortunes against Australia in any format, especially in the longest format away from home. Each time they have travelled DownUnder in the whites, the Greenshirts have received thorough battering and returned home penniless. Although, Pakistan have had their share of brilliances, they have been unable to cling on to the crucial moments, by large. Mike Hussey’s renaissance job in Sydney 2009-10 is a perfect example that somehow correlated with the great Hobart heist from a decade ago where Adam Gilchrist robbed Pakistan and announced himself to the world.
It was not before the Aussies toured the dunes of the Emirates that Pakistan finally got to savor a moment of dominance against the once world-thrashers. A rampant Pakistan, under the leadership of Misbah-ul-Haq swiped away the visitors to clinch a historic whitewash. It scripted the genesis of a whole new era of Pakistan Cricket. In this piece, we delve into the top five moments for Pakistan in Test Cricket against Australia over the last two decades.
Shoaib Akhtar’s fire-lidded spell, Colombo ‘02
Shoaib Akhtar’s memorable fast-bowling spell against a full-strength Australian line-up is still regarded as one of the best bowling moments from this century. The spell, if rewinded and watched again, does send shivers down one’s spine. The footage of the sheer pace and belligerence involved on a not-so-Australian deck against a world-class Australian batting line is one to be cherished for ages to come.
Pakistan had conceded a massive 188-run lead in the first innings and had to dismiss Australia for a below-par score to give themselves any sort of an outside chance. Australia were waltzing along at 74-1 when Akhtar was handed the ball for that historic 8-over spell that changed the whole complexity of the match.
He had Ricky Ponting playing back on to his stumps, clearly roughed up by the extra zip off the surface. He cleaned up Mark Waugh with a ripping in swinging bunger that shattered his stumps. In the blink of an eye, Akhtar swiped away the Australian skipper, Steve Waugh, with a similar delivery bowled over 145 clicks. Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne were his next two scalps as Akhtar completed a stunning five-fer to restrict Australia to 89-7 within mere minutes.
Misbah’s world-record century hallmark, Abu Dhabi ‘14
Misbah-ul-Haq is regarded amongst the greatest cricketing minds to be given birth by Pakistan. It was under his highly-appraised leadership that Pakistan got hold of the Test Championship mace and became the No.1 Test team in the world for a short stint. Not only he led with immense intelligence, Misbah also set new milestones with the bat, none greater than his slamming century against the Aussies in the 2014 series in UAE.
The very innings equaled Sir Viv Richards’ record for the fastest century in the history of Test Cricket in terms of deliveries faced. Misbah strolled out at 152 for three, with Australia on the ropes, in the 44th over of Pakistan’s second innings. After a mere 15 overs, the Pakistani skipper had notched up a magnificent century courtesy a cheeky outside edge off Mitchel Starc that went scuttering towards the third-man boundary for four runs. The 40-year old amassed a plethora of boundaries in the innings and specifically took the attack to against Australia’s occasional leggie, Steve Smith. Pakistan not only went on to seal a comfortable victory in the match but also completed a domineering series sweep.
Asad Shafiq’s heroics go in vain, Brisbane ‘16
Asad Shafiq, one of Pakistan’s mainstays in the longer format, played a remarkable, career-defining against Australia when Pakistan toured their shores in 2016. In pursuit of a mammoth target of 490 runs, Pakistan heartbreakingly fell short by 39 runs with Shafiq being largely credited, for his valiant 137-run knock while batting with the lower-order.
During Shafiq’s innings, he went past the legendary Sir Garfield Sobers to notch up the maximum number of centuries in Tests while batting at number six. Pakistan’s 450 also became the highest 4th innings total for any team on Australian soil. Such fighting efforts by a touring team to the dreaded tracks of the DownUnder are rarely seen and Shafiq’s gem was right up there.
Azhar Ali’s magnificent double-ton, Melbourne ‘16
Azhar Ali, the current Pakistani Test skipper, had a memorable trip the last time the Greenshirts visited Australia. Pakistan arrived for their series with majority of the limelight focusing on the two veterans, Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. But it was Azhar Ali if, aptly put, stole the spotlight to rewrite record books in the trademark Boxing Day Test at the G.
Azhar’s feat made him the first Pakistan batsman to score a double century in Tests in Australia and only the fourth Asian batsman to achieve this feat. He also notched up the highest individual score by a Pakistan batsman in Australia. The innings was lidded with Azharesque elegance and class as he expertly clipped off the pads and freely drove and carved through the offside. It was an absolute batting clinic, a flawless masterclass, an innings that the upcoming of generation of batters from Pakistan will keep rewinding for a long time to come.
Mohammad Abbas decimates Australian line, Abu Dhabi ‘18
Mohammad Abbas, a bright bowling prospect for Pakistan in Tests, destructed Australian batting line up with a maiden ten-wicket match haul in the Abu Dhabi Test of 2018. Earlier in the series, Australia had done an incredible job to force a draw on the dusty trough of Dubai but couldn’t escape the brunt of Abbas in the 2nd Test. Abbas bagged 5/33 and 5/62 respectively in the two innings to take Pakistan to their biggest-ever victory in Test Cricket in terms of runs.
Pursuing a rather improbable 538 runs to win the Test, Australia crumbled in front of Abbas’ guile with both old as well as the new ball. His approach was neither nippy nor bang-the-pitch-hard kind one. Rather he bowled a dead-straight line and kept troubling both the inside as well as the outside edges of the Australian willows. Abbas finished the series with 17 wickets in two matches and was named man of the match and man of the series for his exploits.