Australia have escaped with a 39-run victory over Pakistan in the day-night Test at the Gabba, where the tourists delivered Steve Smith a serious scare.
Pakistan were given no hope of achieving a world record run-chase when Smith declared at dinner on day three, setting them a target of 490.
One betting agency had the visitors listed as 600-1 shots at one point during the pink-ball contest in Brisbane, where Australia haven’t lost a Test since 1988.
A run-out from Smith ended Pakistan’s second innings at 450 and the match, with the skipper admitting Monday was one of the most tense days of his career.
“Lost all my fingernails,” Smith said in the post-match ceremony, adding he had no regrets about not enforcing the follow-on.
“It was some game of cricket … it was a bit too close for my liking.”
Pakistan resumed at 8-382 on day five, their dreams of bettering West Indies’ 7-418 in 2003 and pulling off the highest Test run-chase still well founded as long as centurion Asad Shafiq was at the crease.
Shafiq and Yasir Shah negotiated Monday’s opening hour with minimal fuss, extending their fight after drinks to a point where Pakistan needed 41 runs with two wickets in hand.
Spearhead Mitchell Starc stepped up to break the 71-run stand and end Shafiq’s man-of-the-match knock of 137.
The left-armer produced a ball on an awkward length that Shafiq fended to David Warner at gully.
“Our bowlers stuck at it all day …that wicket of Asad showed the class of Starcy,” Smith said.
Shafiq agreed it was a brilliant delivery.
“I was not expecting it,” he said.
“We almost chased 490 and that’s because of our tail, the tail batted really well.”
There was no late twist. Shah swung wildly at his next delivery then was run out by Smith after stumbling out of his crease, having edged a ball to the slips cordon.
Smith, who dropped Shafiq on 72 on Sunday, had kept the field back to the well-set batsman on Monday.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan was among many pundits to question the decision, calling Smith’s tactics ridiculous.
Shafiq was happy to take the easy singles on offer and Shah was unperturbed during the opening spells of Starc and Josh Hazlewood.
The legspinner then rode his luck. He edged a delivery in Jackson Bird’s second over, but the absence of a second slip meant it raced to the rope, then was almost caught behind off the bowling of Starc.
Hazlewood broke the partnership shortly after the drinks break, only for Shah to successfully review the lbw dismissal.
Ball-tracking replays confirmed the ball was sailing over the stumps, with umpire Richard Illingworth one of many feeling the pressure in a dramatic finish.
Pakistan fell at the final hurdle but claimed a moral victory on several fronts ahead of Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.
They produced the nation’s highest fourth-innings Test total and also posted the highest fourth-innings total in a Gabba Test.
“Everyone believes now .. everyone showed character,” Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said.