Asad, Sarfraz praise team’s late-order resurgence in Gabba Test

Karachi [Pakistan], Dec. 20 : Pakistan batsman Asad Shafiq, who was adjudged man of the match in the first Test against Australia, has heaped praise on team's late-order resurgence, saying the entire team was proud the way it fought amid heavy odds.

Australia escaped a narrow 39-run victory over the visitors in the opening Test of the three-match series, thus setting the tone for the coming two matches.

Chasing a world record target of 490 runs to win, Pakistan's ninth-wicket partnership between Shafiq and Yasir Shah (33) delayed Australia's victory and made their side's impossible chase look easy.

However, pace spearhead Mitchell Starc stepped up to break the 71-run stand between the duo and end Shafiq's magnificent knock featuring 13 boundaries and a six.

Asad, who made a gallant 137 - just five shy of team's entire first innings total, said the entire team was very proud of their game in the last innings.

"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," the Dawn quoted Shafiq as saying.

"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," he added.

The Misbah-ul-haq led-side were dismissed for 450, their highest fourth-innings total and the fourth best in Test history.

Shafiq stitched together successive partnerships of 47 with Sarfraz (24), 92 with Amir (48) and 66 with Riaz (30) before Yasir 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," he said. "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." "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," he added.

Speaking about the dressing room atmosphere before the start of Day Five with Pakistan still 108 away from the target, the 30-year-old also admitted that there were positive vibes.

"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," he said.

Meanwhile, wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz, who scored 59 not out and 24 in the side's debut day-night Test, heaped praise on Shafiq's innings saying it was one of the best knocks he had seen someone playing 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," he said. "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." The wicketkeeper-batsman also asserted that the touring team'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," he said.

"We just need to think positive, believe in ourselves and play accordingly," he added. With this win, Australia have taken a 1-0 lead in the series. They will next lock horns with Pakistan in the second Test at the MCG on Boxing Day..

Source: ANI