Pat Cummins’ second 10-wicket haul in Tests powered Australia to a thrilling 79-run victory over Pakistan at the MCG.
The Australian captain made all the crucial breakthroughs late on Friday as the hosts beat Pakistan by 237 to win the Boxing Day Test. Cummins finished the game with a record of 10-97 after going 5-49 in the second inning.
Pakistan fought bravely but lost 5-18 in a chaotic end to the fourth day, while Australia needed the extra 30 minutes after the scheduled stumpings to complete the win and retain the Benaud Qadir Trophy.
Mohammad Rizwan and Salman Ali Agha threatened to push Pakistan to a famous victory and break a 28-year Test winning streak in Australia. But Cummins ended the 67-year partnership between the pair in bizarre and controversial circumstances just 15 minutes before the game was scheduled to end.
Australia reviewed an emergency out call to Rizwan when a Cummins delivery flew into Alex Carey’s gloves. But after a lengthy review by the third umpire, Richard Illingworth concluded that the ball was thrown against Rizwan’s wristband, which was connected to his gloves. Rizwan was furious at the decision as Pakistan were 5-219 at the time and began to believe that they could register the country’s most successful win against Australia.
“I got a little nervous then,” Cummins said afterwards. “I was fine, but they batted well. Happy with the Rizwan wicket.”
It was Cummins who stood up earlier in the day and took the crucial wicket of his opposing captain Shan Masood (60) before tea. Just a few minutes later, Cummins struck out his fourth hit in the second inning, dismissing Aamir Jamal (0).
The wickets won him the Jonny Mullagh Medal for player of the match, made him the tenth Australian to take 250 Test scalps and capped an outstanding year as captain.
With seven wickets lost, Australia opted to take the extra 30 minutes to finish play on Friday rather than return on day five. It was a rollicking end to one of the MCG’s great Tests, with Pakistan fighting harder than many touring nations have managed on Australian soil.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan star Babar Azam seemed on the verge of exploding after a difficult start to the series. But on 41, the former captain was bowled by another classic delivery, this time from Josh Hazlewood. Babar’s stumps were rattled in the first innings by Cummins, who produced a stunning ‘dream ball’, and Hazlewood’s wicket was just as good.
“The game kept turning. Sometimes it went like Australia, sometimes like us,” Masood said afterwards. “But when we were leading with the bat and me and Abdullah had a good partnership (in the first innings), Pat Cummins came in with that magic. And that’s why he’s one of the best bowlers in the world.”