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Late-order resurgence and self belief was remarkable: Asad

KARACHI: Just hours after Pakistan went down heroically in the opening Test of the three-match series against Australia by just 39 runs at Brisbane on Monday, man-of-the-match Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed praised the touring team’s great late-order resurgence.

Asad, who made a gallant 137 — just five shy of team’s entire first innings total — told Dawn from the Gabba that the entire team was proud the way it fought amid heavy odds.

“It is hard to believe we’ve lost after coming so close [to the 490-run target] but we are very, very proud of our game in the last innings. Nobody expected us or gave any chance of taking the Test down to the wire,” Asad said.

“I’m very pleased at the way lower-order batsmen supported me when everything seemed lost. It was wonderful to have [Mohammad] Amir, Wahab [Riaz] and Yasir {Shah] all contributing when it really mattered.”

Pakistan were dismissed for 450 which is their highest fourth-innings total and the fourth best in Test history Asad had successive partnerships of 47 with Sarfraz (24), 92 with Amir (48) and 66 with Wahab (30) before Yasir (33) joined him to put on 71 for the ninth wicket.

“I owe them a lot and dedicate this innings to all these guys because without their support I couldn’t have aspired to play like this in a knock that means so much to me. It was very special for several reasons.

“I had been through tough times in recent Test matches [0, 0, 16, 17, 23, 0 and 2 in last seven innings] and was desperately in need of a long outing to make amends for those failures despite hitting the ball well during [team] practice sessions,” he said. “I felt in the right frame of mind in this innings. The ball was coming on nicely and I thought to myself this could be the moment, and make it count.”

Asad admitted there were positive vibes in the dressing-room before play started on day five with Pakistan still 108 away from the target.

“The atmosphere there was quite amazing even though we were already eight down. Everyone was optimistic that we would fight until the very end. The players and support staff all had the same thing on mind, ‘We can achieve the impossible’. Everyone was so pumped up and each of them was telling me and Yasir not to give up and keep on going,” the diminutive right-hander said.

Wicket-keeper/batsman Sarfraz, a close friend of Asad who scored 59 not out and 24 in the Brisbane Test, said he had never seen a better innings in the given situation.

“The way Asad was batting on Sunday we all had the belief that we could pull off an incredible result in our favour. He showed tremendous determination and it showed in his eyes,” Sarfraz told Dawn. “I would rate this knock as one of the best anyone has played since Asad was under pressure [to perform] after being not so successful in the past few Tests.”

Sarfraz said Pakistan’s renaissance in the series opener was heartening for the remaining two Tests.

“Although we lost here we are taking lots of positives from Brisbane. The best thing is we are now all very determined and focussed for the Melbourne and Sydney Tests. Our late-order batting has obviously raised our spirits, Make no mistake, we will be coming extremely hard at the Australians in the next Test,” the wicket-keeper added. “We just need to think positive, believe in ourselves and play accordingly.”

Asad, meanwhile, said making a record ninth century — out of career’s 10 hundreds in 51 Tests — at the No.6 slot to surpass legendary West Indies all-rounder Sir Garfield Sobers was very inspiring.

“It is great feeling to be told that I have become the record holder for this slot. Passing Sir Garfield’s record itself is not only fufilling but very inspiring,” he said. “But I could never be like him. He remains cricket’s ultimate all-rounder and none of us could ever match him. He was a phenomenal cricketer.”

courtesy : dawn news

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