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Australia edge past Pakistan by 39 runs in first Test – preserves its 28 year Gabba record

Brisbane, December 19: Australia managed to preserve their 28-year unbeaten streak at Brisbane’s Gabba Ground, as the hosts clinched the first cricket Test against Pakistan by 39 runs here on Monday.

Home skipper Steve Smith ran leg-spinner Yasir Shah out for 33 to end Pakistan’s resistance on the final day of the day-night encounter and take a 1-0 lead in the three-Test rubber.

Chasing a mammoth 490, Pakistan rode on Asad Shafiq’s brilliant 137 to score 450 in their second essay before Australia pulled back by taking the remaining two wickets in the first session of play.

Resuming the day at 382/8, Pakistan had a ray of hope in Shafiq, who was unbeaten on 100 and leg-spinner Yasir Shah (4) as the duo battled the initial hiccups to add 67 runs to the overnight total.

But the visitors’ attempt to break their nine-match losing streak Down Under was foiled when Shafiq was caught shortly before Shah’s dismissal in the same over.

His brilliant innings, laced with 13 fours and a six, was ended when pacer Mitchell Starc’s short-pitched delivery came off the shoulder of his bat and lobbed to David Warner at gully for a crucial catch.

Shafiq and Shah kept the pressure on Australia in a 71-run partnership that went close to giving Pakistan an unlikely world-record victory after being set 490 to win. So far, no team has ever scored more than 418 while chasing in the second innings.

Considering Pakistan’s recent record in the longest version, it was a courageous effort from the Misbah-ul-Haq-led side, who were bowled out for 142 in their first innings in response to Australia’s first innings score of 429.

Smith, however, decided against enforcing the follow-on and instead declared at 202/5, setting the Pakistanis a massive target.

Australia prevented a world-record and preserved their 28-year unbeaten streak at Brisbane’s Gabba ground, to win a gripping first Test by just 39 runs.

The teams will now face off on Boxing Day in Melbourne, for the second game from December 26.

The Pakistan team is placing much of its confidence on Mohammad Amir, the 24 years old left-arm paceman, who has the uncanny ability to swing the ball at an impressively brutal pace.

Having had his time behind bars and a five-year ban, delivering pre-planned no-balls in 2010 for betting markets, Amir is quite a colourful character, who will be looking to attack Australia’s cricket ranking in Melbourne.

As Pakistan’s trump card, Amir debuted in Sri Lanka at just 17, and by 18 he had 50 wickets in Test cricket.

Raj Kumar

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