Babar Azam's marathon innings earns Pakistan thrilling draw against Australia in Karachi

Captain hits sparkling 196, while Rizwan also scores ton on Day 5 of second Test

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Pakistan made a daring attempt to pull off the most successful chase in Test history before fighting it out for a draw in the second Test against Australia in Karachi, with captain Babar Azam hitting 196 in one of the greatest innings of modern times.

They were then set a world-record target of 506 with a little under two day's play remaining. Day 4 was all about survival but the final day saw Pakistan make a brave charge at the target.

Overnight centurion Babar and opening batsman Abdullah Shafique continued to defy the dispirited Aussie bowlers in the morning session. Shafique, who hit 136 not out in the drawn first Test in Rawalpindi, drove visiting captain Pat Cummins for a boundary to reach 96.

Babar batted for 425 balls with 21 fours and one six, falling four short of a brilliant double ton. His knock was the longest fourth innings effort by a Pakistan batsman and the driving force behind the home team's effort that stalled at 443-7 on Wednesday.

Wicketkeeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan completed the rescue mission for Pakistan as he reached his century in the penultimate over of the match.

“The plan was to just play out session by session and raise big partnerships,” Babar said after the match. “I had firm belief in our tail-enders and I was confident we will save the game.

“We didn’t think much about chasing once we lost three quick wickets. Credit goes to the whole team, especially the way Rizwan and Shafique batted against both the new and old balls.”

The hosts were headed for near-certain defeat after they were bowled out for 148 on Day 3 of the Test in reply to Australia's daunting first innings score of 556-9 declared.

But in his next over the Australian pacer drew the right-hander into another drive which this time found the edge and Steve Smith held on to the catch, making amends for dropping the same batsman, on 20, from a more straightforward chance at slip off Cummins the day before.

That ended an epic third-wicket stand of 228 between Shafique and Babar, with the score on 249.

The match could have taken a different turn had the Aussies held on to their chances. Azam survived two dropped chances off successive balls while on 161 - first Travis Head and then Marnus Labuschagne - off leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson.

Babar had also survived a confident leg-before appeal against spinner Nathan Lyon when on 157, but it turned out to be umpire Aleem Dar's call on review.

The home team needed 134 runs from the last 21 overs with Babar approaching a double ton and Rizwan on 54. However, Pakistan shut shop once Azam fell short of his maiden double ton when Lyon got the batsman to push one to bat pad. Next ball, all-rounder Faheem Ashraf edged to slip as Pakistan suddenly found themselves cornered with 12 overs remaining.

Rizwan was then dropped at covers by Usman Khawaja with three overs remaining as Pakistan held on for a fighting draw that felt much like victory. Pakistan thus became only the second team in Test history to save a match by batting for more than 1,000 balls in the fourth innings.

No team has ever scored more than 418 in the fourth innings to win a Test. Pakistan's highest successful chase remains the 377 they made against Sri Lanka at Pallekele in 2015.

"I'm just really proud of the efforts," Cummins said after falling short of victory.

"The way we batted was fantastic, the way we hunted we took those wickets on day three with reverse swing, that was brilliant as well. We were always ahead in the game, so really proud of the boys."

Updated: March 16, 2022, 1:54 PM