Salman Butt thought his side would blow their chance to claim a first Test win over Australia in 15 years before they eventually fell over the line by three wickets at Leeds, England, yesterday. Pakistan began the fourth day with the seemingly routine task of scoring the required 40 runs for victory, and draw two-Test series at 1-1, after resuming at 140 for three. It proved anything but comfortable, however, as they nervously lost three quick wickets to at one stage to leave them needing 19 with four wickets left.
Kamran Akmal steadied their nerves with a 13 that could hardly ever be more valuable, before he was out with the scores level. Umar Gul then hit the winning runs to finally seal the end to an absorbing Test match that had begun with Australia being skittled for just 88. Asked if he thought his side might lose during a dramatic morning, Butt, who was captain of his country for the first time after Shahid Afridi's shock resignation last week, admitted: "Knowing the history, yes. Honestly, it was a bit nerve-wracking. It became that way once a few wickets fell, but that's the way that cricket goes. Thank God it went positively and we won."
Pakistan's win was made all the more laudable after Afridi's departure immediately after the 150-run defeat in the first Test at Lord's last week. Butt was hastily installed as the new captain in just his 29th Test, to lead a young team that was hardly even expected to test Australia in Leeds. But the young players proved the cornerstone of the win with Mohammad Aamer, their 18-year-old seamer, claiming seven wickets in the match, while Azhar Ali, in just his second game, combined in a match-winning stand of 110 with Imran Farhat on Friday. "It's a new beginning for Pakistan cricket and the young side," said Butt.
The Pakistan Cricket Board is to pay US$5,900 (Dh21,665) in prize money to each player. * PA