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SO CLOSE: Australia get out of jail against Pakistan

Cricket

Australia have escaped with a 39-run victory over Pakistan in the day-night Test at the Gabba, where the tourists delivered Steve Smith a serious scare.

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Pakistan were given no hope of achieving a world record run-chase when Smith declared at dinner on day three, setting them a target of 490.

One betting agency had the visitors listed as 600-1 shots at one point during the pink-ball contest in Brisbane, where Australia haven’t lost a Test since 1988.

Pakistan resumed at 8-382 on day five, their dreams of bettering West Indies’ 7-418 in 2003 and pulling off the highest Test run-chase still well founded as long as centurion Asad Shafiq was at the crease.

Shafiq and Yasir Shah negotiated this afternoon’s opening hour with minimal fuss, extending their fight after drinks to a point where Pakistan needed 41 runs with two wickets in hand.

Spearhead Mitchell Starc stepped up to break the 71-run stand and end Shafiq’s magnificent knock of 137. The left-armer produced a ball on an awkward length that Shafiq fended to David Warner at gully.

There was no late twist. Shah swung wildly at his next delivery then was run out by Smith after stumbling out of his crease, having edged a ball to the slips cordon.

Smith, who dropped Shafiq on 72 yesterday, had kept the field back to the the well-set batsman. Former England captain Michael Vaughan was among many pundits to question the decision, calling Smith’s tactics ridiculous.

Shafiq was happy to take the easy singles on offer and Shah was unperturbed during the opening spells of Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

The legspinner then rode his luck. He edged a delivery in Jackson Bird’s second over, but the absence of a second slip meant it raced to the rope.

Hazlewood broke the partnership shortly after the drinks break, only for Shah to successfully review the lbw dismissal. Ball-tracking replays confirmed the ball was sailing over the stumps, with umpire Richard Illingworth one of many feeling the pressure in a tense finish.

Pakistan fell at the final hurdle but claimed a moral victory on several fronts ahead of Tests in Melbourne and Sydney. They produced the nation’s highest fourth-innings Test total and also posted the highest fourth-innings total in a Gabba Test.

-AAP

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