137, FOR PAKISTAN V AUSTRALIA, 1ST TEST BRISBANE
You can add Asad Shafiq, alongside TS Eliot, to the list of those who do not believe in lost causes. With Pakistan staring down the barrel of a 490-run chase – one that would have eclipsed West Indies’ victorious 418 for 7 v Australia at St John’s in 2002/03 – Shafiq stood tall.
Arriving at the Gabba crease with the scoreboard reading 165 for 4, his task was made that much more improbable when Younis Khan was caught behind attempting to reverse sweep Nathan Lyon, leaving the tourists teetering at 173 for 5.
By the end of day four Shafiq had moved to 100 not out, Pakistan to 382 for 8, with 108 needed on day five to pull off a remarkable chase.
There were double-teapots from Australia’s agitated captain, Steve Smith – who had dropped Shafiq on 72 – as the reprieved batsman and Yasir Shah chipped away at the required total. But it was not to be.
With 41 required Shafiq finally fell. Mitchell Starc, angled in a devilish bouncer which squared him up and nicked the shoulder of the blade, looping to David Warner at gully.
The resistance was over, but those in Brisbane had witnessed an imperious effort and a gripping Test match under lights.
Shafiq became the first player to register nine Test hundreds batting at No.6, surpassing Garry Sobers’ eight. It was his 10th Test hundred in all, earning him the man of the match award in a losing cause.
At 30 years old Shafiq is a relative infant in this ageing Pakistan outfit, but his captain, Misbah, lauded his efforts as a display of “courage and funk”.