Playing a two-match ‘home’ series against Australia in England, Salman Butt and his side registered a narrow 3-wicket win over Kangaroos at Headingley — their first in 15 years.
Shahid Afridi announced his retirement from the format after the first Test and the onus fell on the 25-year-old Butt. His reign could not have had a better start.
Having been asked to bowl first, Pakistan’s fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, supported by Umar Gul, blew away the Australians for just 88 in the first innings – their lowest first innings score in over five decades.
While a majority of the batting line-up got starts in the first innings, Pakistan’s batsmen failed to capitalize and score big. The hosts were bowled out for 258 but were in the driver’s seat with a massive lead of 170 on Day two.
After losing the openers early, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke stitched together 89 runs for the third wicket, taking their side close to Pakistan’s total. Amir dismissed the Australian captain the next morning, triggering a middle-order collapse. Steve Smith held the fort at one end as wickets kept falling at the other. The 21-year-old went on to score his first half-century in Tests, helping Australia set a competitive target of 180.
Despite the early loss of the skipper, Pakistan moved forward steadily in the run-chase, with Imran Farhat and Azhar Ali putting together 110 runs for the second wicket.
The match seemed to be done and dusted, but Doug Bollinger removed the pair towards the close day three to give his side an outside chance. Pakistan’s history of botched up chases started to haunt them again as Australia kept chipping away the next morning.
However, Kamran Akmal’s three boundaries under pressure sealed the game for his side. Gul’s drive through covers ended the game, much to the relief of his team and their fans, and a hard-fought series ended at 1-1.
It was also the final Test of Rudi Koertzen’s umpiring career, after having stood in 331 international matches. He picked up a stump and led the players off the field, and was gifted a signed t-shirt by the Pakistan side after the game.
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