LEEDS: Pakistan held their nerve to claim their first Test victory against Australia in 15 years in a tense fourth-day finish at Headingley on Saturday.
Left-arm quick Mohammad Aamer was five not out and Umar Gul, who hit the winning run off Mitchell Johnson, one not out as Pakistan ended a run of 13 straight Test defeats by Australia – a record for one country against another.
Pakistan were still five short when Australia’s Michael Hussey appealed for a gully catch against Kamran Akmal on 13, off the bowling of Mitchell Johnson but replays were inconclusive.
And then left-arm quick Mohammad Aamer, who took seven wickets in the match, edged Ben Hilfenhaus through the slips for four to tie the scores.
But there was one more twist with Kamran Akmal brilliantly caught by Hussey off Johnson and this time there was no doubt.
Gul, though, hammered his first ball from Johnson through the offside and Pakistan had won with more than a day and two sessions to spare.
It meant Salman Butt, who replaced Shahid Afridi as skipper after the all-rounder quit Tests after the 150-run series-opening loss at Lord’s last week, tasted victory in his first Test as Pakistan captain.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking, when you have this added responsibility,” Butt told reporters.
“You tend to think more, thank God it went positively and we won.
“It means a lot, it’s a new beginning for Pakistan.”
Left-arm quick Doug Bollinger, starting Friday, took three wickets for five runs in 17 balls on his way to 3/51 and Ben Hilfenhaus three for 39 but even Australia could not turn this match around.
Ultimately, Australia paid the price for being bowled out for just 88 in their first innings – their lowest Test total since they were dismissed for 76 by the West Indies at Perth in 1984.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who chose to bat after winning the toss, said: “At the end of the day, that’s had a big impact. It’s my responsibility to get those sorts of things right.
“I think everyone was surprised at how much it seemed on the first day. Any decision like that is the captain’s and when you have a loss like that, it’s the responsibility of the captain as well. Obviously, the buck stops with me.”
Australia ‘held’ Pakistan to 258, with medium-pacer Watson taking a Test-best 6/33, following his previous best of 5/40 at Lord’s, after the frontline quicks had been mostly ineffective.
And Australia then made 349 with Michael Clarke and Steven Smith, in his second Test, both making 77.
Ponting contributed 66 as he became only the second batsman, after India’s Sachin Tendulkar, to score 12,000 Test runs.
But Aamer still managed to take 4/86, giving the 18-year-old left-arm quick Test best match figures of 7/106.
Aamer and Watson won their teams’ respective man-of-the-match awards.
Pakistan resumed Saturday on 140/3, needing 40 more runs to win with Australia requiring seven wickets.
However, as recently as the Sydney Test in January, Australia bowled Pakistan out for 139, chasing a victory target of 176.
Azhar Ali resumed on 47 not out, with Umar Akmal unbeaten on two.
Ali, off Bollinger’s third ball Saturday, cover-drove a full toss to the boundary to complete a maiden Test fifty off 108 balls with six fours.
But next ball, he could only edge Bollinger to keeper Tim Paine.
Ali was out for 51 and Pakistan were 146/4.
Bollinger appealed for caught behind and lbw against Kamran Akmal, still on nought, in successive balls but Rudi Koertzen, in the South African umpire’s 108th and last Test before retirement, correctly rejected both pleas.
Shoaib Malik – on 10 – was brilliantly caught at the second attempt off a well-hit drive by Marcus North at short extra-cover off Hilfenhaus and Pakistan still needed 19 to win, with four wickets standing.
Kamran Akmal, with three boundaries, took Pakistan to the brink of victory.
Pakistan now have a short turnaround before a four-Test series against England starts at Trent Bridge on July 29.
Australia have to play two Tests away in India in October before attempting to regain the Ashes from England on home soil, in a five-Test campaign that starts in November.
This series was played in England after international cricket in Pakistan was effectively suspended after an armed attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore in March last year.
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