Babar Azam’s batting brilliance, video vagaries and some fielding flops thwarted Australia in a gripping drawn second Test against Pakistan. The spinner Nathan Lyon took three wickets in the last 13 overs, but the Australians fell three wickets shy of their first ever Test triumph in Karachi.
Chasing 506 runs to win, Babar made a heroic 196 and Mohammad Rizwan a superb 104 not out as Pakistan finished on 443 for seven. The series remains nil-nil going into the third and final Test in Lahore, which starts on Monday.
Babar blunted Australia’s bowlers in a 425-ball epic, posting the highest-ever score by a captain in the fourth innings of a Test. But his gallant resistance ended when dismissed by Lyon with 12.2 overs remaining.
Next ball, Lyon removed Faheem Ashraf for a golden duck to revive Australian hopes of a last-gasp win. Lyon’s hat-trick ball was defended by Sajid Khan but the rapid strikes left Australia needing four more wickets in a dozen overs with the third new ball.
With 49 balls remaining, Lyon snared another wicket when Sajid was caught at slip. Then, with 19 balls left, Usman Khawaja at cover dropped a dolly of a catch from Rizwan. And with eight balls to go, a diving Rizwan, on 99, just returned to his crease after advancing to Lyon, who threw down the stumps.
Rizwan registered his century from the next ball and then negotiated four balls from the final over, before the Australian captain, Pat Cummins, called a halt with victory impossible.
Cummins’s tactics – extending his team’s first innings into day three, not enforcing the follow-on and batting 35 minutes into day four when 489 runs ahead – are certain to provoke debate. But Cummins still left his team 178 overs to bowl out the hosts. And Australia were also without some last-day luck: two video reviews for lbw were denied despite replays showing the ball would have hit the stumps.
The flashpoints exposed quirks in the decision review system. Australia sought reviews to not-out verdicts from lbw appeals involving Babar when he was 169 and Rizwan on 14. The review replays showed both balls, from Lyon and Mitchell Swepson respectively, would have hit the stumps. But both reviews were deemed “umpire’s call” and the original verdicts stood.
Babar also received a let-off on 161 when Travis Head dropped a reflex catching chance at silly point from Swepson’s bowling. The Australian stuck out his right hand to a forward prod but failed to complete the catch. Next ball, another Babar forward defensive shot landed centimetres short of Marnus Labuschagne at short-leg.
Earlier, Cummins (2 for 75) had removed Abdullah Shafique for 96, caught by Steve Smith at first slip when edging a drive. Shafique and Babar put on a 228-run partnership, soaking up almost 86 overs – only the fourth time in history a third-wicket union surpassed 200 in the fourth innings of a Test.
Cummins also dismissed Fawad Alam (nine) while Lyon finished with 4 for 112 from 55 overs. The all-rounder Cameron Green took 1 for 32 but Mitchell Starc (0 for 58) and Test debutant Swepson (0 for 156 from 53.4 overs) were wicketless.