IN a contest as absorbing and tense such as the first Test at The Gabba that Australia won by a slim margin of 39 runs against Pakistan, the victory or defeat does not really matter since the game of cricket is the real winner. The Test indeed won the hearts of everyone in Pakistan and worldwide as Asad Shafiq and his partners nearly pulled off an impossible feat.
It is a pity that they fell just short of what could have been the greatest feat ever achieved in the 139 years of Test history.
The grand run-chase by Pakistan made it too close for comfort for the home team as described by the Aussie captain Steve Smith in a post match comment. He said the defeat does not discredit Misbah-ul-Haq’s men in anyway as they nearly achieved what surely would have gone down in history as something miraculous.
Had Pakistan perished without a fight in this encounter, it no doubt would have been humiliating. However, the magnificent effort by Misbah’s men will surely lift the morale of the team tremendously now and will make the home team realize that they have a job at hand.
The West Indies and South Africa have both won against Australia at Antigua and Perth in 2002-03 and 2008-09 while chasing 418 and 414 runs respectively. However, in the history of the game this Brisbane game which ended yesterday will no doubt go down as a classic for the fact that Pakistan from being ridiculous in the first innings to being brilliant and sublime in the second displayed true grit, making host Australia look small.
In one of the Tests that I covered in the seventies at The Oval in England, India was left to score 438 runs to
win and after being rallied by Sunil Gavsakar’s 221 they fell short by only eight runs. It was indeed absorbing cricket.
Asad Shafiq, a man of few words but with a bag full of shots all round, is indeed as adept in turning the game on its head as have been Gavaskar, Viv Richards, Brian Lara or Inzamam-ul-Haq to name a few when situations such as the one at the Brisbane Test are at hand.
Batting so late in the order and yet being so focused to tackle the challenge confronting the team is not a task of an ordinary mortal unless the eyes are sharp, the concentration is flawless and the sense of picking up the deliveries to score on is uncanny.
This memorable innings of Asad has definitely elevated him to a different pedestal in the eyes of the opposition and also his detractors. To his credit, he not only guided and protected his partners to build valuable partnerships but also in the process kept the vigil of chasing the target paramount.
Not a soul in Pakistan will mourn the way the team put up a brave face in adversity and played the match in the best spirits of the game. I have a feeling the real disappointment was on the face of those Australians in the crowd who waited to see Pakistan create history.
It was not to be, but the pink ball Test reminded us all once again that this five-day format of the game is alive and kicking.
courtesy : dawn news