In the just concluded Test match between Pakistan and Australia in Dubai, the Aussies batted 139.5 overs in the fourth innings thanks to the help of Travis Head, Usman Khawaja and Tim Paine to avoid a sure-shot loss.
Batting almost 140 overs in the fourth innings of a Test innings on Asian soil, that too against an Asian opposition is not a matter of joke for the Aussies. Rather it seemed to be an impossible task, given Australia’s recent bad run with the bat in absence of Steve Smith and David Warner.
But this time around, the Australian batsmen made the impossible possible, with Khawaja facing 302 balls, Paine 194 balls and Head 175 balls to save the match in some fashion. And with this, they now find themselves in the list of an extraordinary record, headed none other than Bangladesh.
The record is about batting the most number of overs in the fourth innings on the Asian soil to draw a Test match. Khawaja-Paine might have impressed the whole world with what they just executed against the Pakistanis, but still their effort was not good enough to match, let alone top, the Tigers.
Having survived 139.5 overs, Australia are now in the third position of the list. Had they not accepted the draw with one ball of the day’s play left, they could have taken the joint-second position, which is still an English possession. During the 2003-04 session, England played 140 overs against Sri Lanka in Kandy in the fourth innings and scored 285 runs on their way to chasing a 368-run target to win the match. At that time, it was the best record.
But soon the record was re-established by Bangladesh during their historic Test series win over Zimbabwe in 2005. After winning the first match of the two-match series against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh were precariously positioned in the second Test, but still completed 142 overs of batting to save the match and seal the momentous, first ever Test series victory.
In that match, Bangladesh had to either score 374 runs to win the match, or survive 142 overs in their fourth innings to at least save the match. Given Bangladesh’s prior records at that time, both the tasks seemed equally untouchable. But Bangladesh showed tremendous guts to do the latter.
In their opening partnership, Javed Omar Belim and Nafees Iqbal added 133 runs. But more importantly, they played out as many as 83 overs and frustrated the visiting Zimbabwe side to the fullest, who were in the dream of clinching a win and level the series 1-1.
Javed Omar faced 258 runs to score only 43 runs, while Nafees Iqbal recorded the slowest hundred for Bangladesh in their history, which is still unbroken after 13 years. Nafees reached his maiden Test three figures in 309 balls, and when he finally got out playing 355 balls, by then he already made his career-best 121 runs.
Javed-Nafees’s heroic efforts did not go in vain, as they were backed up by some super patient innings from Rajin Saled and Khaled Mashud Pilot. Saled faced 140 balls to score 57 runs, and 28 off 57 came off Pilot’s bat. And these timely knocks helped Bangladesh survive their tasked 142 overs losing just 5 wickets, and also having 285 runs on the board.
Eventually the match was drawn, and after winning their first Test match in the previous encounter against Zimbabwe, the Tigers tasted their first ever Test series victory as well with this draw.