Australia’s Dubai heist finds pride of place in epic Test draws
Tim Paine finished 61 off 194 balls to steer Australia to a famous draw in Dubai. @Getty

One of the unlikeliest draws by a visiting Australian team in Asia was played out in Dubai on Thursday, where Usman Khawaja played the innings of his Test career and Tim Paine kept his nerves in excruciating scenes to leave Pakistan wondering what could have been.

Set a target of 462, or more likelier 137 overs to survive, Australia were carried heroically by Khawaja’s 141 as he batted almost through the entire fourth innings on a wearing Dubai surface before Paine and Nathan Lyon held on for a famous draw.

In the spirit of such backs-to-the-wall rearguards to ensure scarcely believable results, here’s a look at some of the most famous draws.

Australia vs New Zealand, Perth, 1989

Coming as it did from the man widely credited as being one-day cricket’s first pinch-hitter, this one is a classic. At the WACA in a one-off Test 29 years ago, the New Zealand batsman Mark Greatbatch ground out an epic defensive century to take his team to a famous draw. New Zealand had been bowled out for 231 after Australia made 521 on the back of David Boon’s 200, and trailed by 290 when the follow-on was enforced. The openers departed with the score on 11, but Greatbatch summoned powers of hitherto unknown resilience to bail New Zealand out of a hole. Wickets five and six fell with the score on 189, but Greatbatch found assistance from Chris Cairns (28) and lastly Martin Snedden who dig his heels in for 33 off 142 balls. Greatbatch was 146 not out when the match ended, having bared 485 deliveries.

South Africa vs England, Johannesburg, 1995

Mike Atherton’s defining innings – 645 minutes, 492 balls, 185 runs. The template by which all stubborn, back-to-the-walls rearguards have been judged in nearly three decades since that epic. Needing to bat out five sessions to save the Test after Hansie Cronje’s declaration set England an improbable target of 479, the captain produced a sublime innings that to this day is remembered in revered tones. Opening the batting, Atherton carried his bat while finding unwavering support from wicketkeeper Jack Russell, who scored an unbeaten 29 from 235 deliveries. One of the greatest draws ever.

Michael Atherton is all smiles after helping England draw the 1995 Johannesburg Test against South Africa © Getty Images
Michael Atherton is all smiles after helping England draw the 1995 Johannesburg Test against South Africa © Getty Images

Australia vs England, Sydney, 1995

Earlier in the year, Atherton had been at the other end of another absorbing draw. Australia had been forced to play catch-up with England after they were bowled out for 116 in reply to the visiting team’s 309, and Atherton’s declaration at 255/2 – controversially, because Graeme Hick was batting on 98 – set them 449 for victory. Australia opted to try and bat out almost five session on a wearing SCG surface, and when Mark Taylor and Michael Slater took the score to 139 without loss by stumps one day four, that seemed a distinct possibility.

Both openers went on to score centuries, but were removed within an hour of each other. As the skies darkened and the drizzle started, England’s seam bowlers came into play and ran through Australia’s lineup, reducing the hosts to 292/7. From here, stirringly, Shane Warne and Tim May rose to the occasion and averted defeat with a stubborn alliance of 52. Warne was not out on 36 from 59 balls and May unbeaten on 10 from 64, having survived many testing overs with as many as eight fielders crowding the bat, when bad light light moved the umpires to call off play. Bizarrely, Warne and May were almost off the field when Atherton informed the on-field umpires that one over was left as per the clock. May came back, marked his guard, and played out for deliveries for a gritty draw that ensured Australia would keep the Ashes for a fourth successive series.

England vs Australia, Old Trafford, 2005

In his own words, Ricky Ponting’s most cherished Test century was a seven-hour masterclass that stood up to England’s lethal pace attack on day five of the third game of the unforgettable 2005 Ashes. Australia began the final day needing 399 from 98 overs and lost Justin Langer seventh ball, before the middle order was made to sweat. Ponting proved immovable until there were four overs left in the Test, out for an excellent 156 that won him a standing ovation. Luckily for Australia, the last pair of Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath played out those 24 remaining deliveries.

Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath after surviving for a tense draw at Old Trafford. @Getty
Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath after surviving for a tense draw at Old Trafford. @Getty

West Indies vs India, St Lucia, 2006

Talk about a scrap. Having saved his team with a splendid 120, batting six-and-a-half-hours on a slow  St Lucia pitch, Brian Lara lifted West Indies like a win would have. Forced to follow-on after being bowled out for 215 in response to India’s 588/8 declared, West Indies had Lara to thank for bailing them out from 2/1 and 52/3. His durability was to the fore – it was Lara’s second slowest innings ever for a score of 50 or more – and took West Indies to safety before Denesh Ramdin and the tail clung on for a draw.

England vs Australia, Cardiff, 2009

A great way to get the Ashes off to start. A Ponting special drove Australia to 674/6, after which England were left to score 219 to escape defeat. It looked bad at 70/5 but Paul Collingwood’s cussedness saw him pace 245 balls in 344 minutes for 74 until he poked to gully. Australia made inroads until the last wicket pair of Monty Panesar and James Anderson were left, and stunningly the pair survived 69 balls in nail-biting manner to secure the unlikeliest of draws.

India vs West Indies, Mumbai, 2011

Perhaps the most exciting draw of all time, with the Test ending with India on 242/9 – just the second draw ever with the scores level. The last day at the Wankhede Stadium was gripping, West Indies being dismissed for 134 from an overnight 81/2 with Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin sharing all 10 wickets. Chasing 243 from 64 overs, India were very nearly given a shock by an injury-hit West Indies. It all came down to the last over, from which India needed six runs to win and West Indies two wickets. It ended with the scores level, with Ashwin run out for 14 off the last ball of the Test.

Darren Sammy can hardly believe that West Indies have pulled off a draw in Mumbai. @AFP
Darren Sammy can hardly believe that West Indies have pulled off a draw in Mumbai. @AFP

Australia vs South Africa, Adelaide, 2012

Set 430 to win, South Africa were 77/4 when the final day began. At the end of it, they were 248/8, having secured an incredible draw. The hero of that final day was Faf du Plessis, batting on 100 from 376 balls in 466 minutes on debut. But without AB de Villiers’ obdurate, stroke-ess 33 off 230 balls the draw would not have been possible. His stand of 89 with de Plessis was instrumental in South Africa averting defeat, and staying alive in the three-match series.

“Before Adelaide I didn’t believe I could bat for four sessions,” du Plessis said after his Sunday heroics in Johannesburg. “You don’t think that’s possible, but you just have to believe.”

New Zealand vs England, Auckland, 2013

Once again it was Panesar who was there at the end of a gripping England draw. This time he only had to face five balls, but what a stressful five balls they were. A superb unbeaten 110 from Matt Prior dragged the visitors to the doorstep of safety but it was the last man who was the most relieved. At tea, Prior had helped the score along to 237/7 with Ian Bell dismissed for 75 in the last over of the session. In the evening, Prior found able assistance from Stuart Broad who took 63 balls to get off the marl after a record 103 minutes at the crease. However, as the match wound to a close, England lost Broad and Anderson in the span of three balls to bring to the middle Panesar. Despite nearly being run out, England’s No 11 held out and was engulfed by Prior (182 balls across four hours and 29 minutes) for surviving.