LEEDS: Pakistan held their nerve to claim their first Test victory against Australia in 15 years in a tense fourth-day finish at Headingley here on Saturday.
Pakistan, set 180 to win, lost four wickets for 40 runs before finishing on 180 for seven and a three-wicket win as they levelled this two-Test series at 1-1.
Left-arm quick Mohammad Aamer was five not out and Umar Gul, who hit the winning run off Mitchell Johnson, one not out as Pakistan ended a run of 13 straight Test defeats by Australia – a record for one country against another.
Pakistan were still five short when Australia’s Michael Hussey appealed for a gully catch against Kamran Akmal on 13, off the bowling of Mitchell Johnson but replays were inconclusive.
And then left-arm quick Mohammad Aamer, who took seven wickets in the match, edged Ben Hilfehnaus through the slips for four to tie the scores.
But there was one more twist with Kamran Akmal brilliantly caught by Hussey off Johnson and this time there was no doubt.
Gul, though, hammered his first ball from Johnson through the offside and Pakistan had won with more than a day and two sessions to spare.
Left-arm quick Doug Bollinger, starting Friday, took three wickets for five runs in 17 balls on his way to three for 51 and Ben Hilfenhaus three for 39 but even Australia could not turn this match around.
Ultimately, Australia paid the price for being bowled out for just 88 in their first innings – their lowest Test total since they were dismissed for 76 by the West Indies at Perth in 1984
Australia ‘held’ Pakistan to 258, with medium-pacer Watson taking a Test-best six for 33, following his previous best of five for 40 in Australia’s 150-run first Test win at Lord’s last week, after the frontline quicks had been mostly ineffective.
And Australia then maded 349 with Michael Clarke and Steven Smith, in his second Test, both making 77.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting contributed 66 as he became only the second batsman, after India’s Sachin Tendulkar, to score 12,000 Test runs.
But Aamer still managed to take four for 86, giving the 18-year-old left-arm quick Test best match figures of seven for 106.
Aammer and Watson won their teams’ respective man-of-the-match awards.
Pakistan resumed Saturday on 140 for three, needing 40 more runs to win with Australia requiring seven wickets.
However, as recently as the Sydney Test in January, Australia bowled Pakistan out for 139, chasing a victory target of 176.
Azhar Ali resumed on 47 not out, with Umar Akmal unbeaten on two.
Ali, off Bollinger’s third ball Saturday, cover-drove a full toss to the boundary to complete a maiden Test fifty off 108 balls with six fours.
But next ball, he could only edge Bollinger to keeper Tim Paine.
Ali was out for 51 and Pakistan were 146 for four.
Bollinger appealed for caught behind and lbw against Kamran Akmal, still on nought, in successive balls but Rudi Koertzen, in the South African umpire’s 108th and last Test before retirement, correctly rejected both pleas.
Shoaib Malik – on 10 – was brilliantly caught at the second attempt off a well-hit drive by Marcus North at short extra-cover off Hilfenhaus and Pakistan still needed 19 to win, with four wickets standing.
Kamran Akmal, with three boundaries, took Pakistan to the brink before Gul gave Salman Butt victory in his first Test as Pakistan captain.
Pakistan now have a short turnaround before a four-Test series against England starts at Trent Bridge on July 29.
Australia have to two Tests away to India in October before attempting to regain the Ashes from England on home soil, in a five-Test campaign that starts in November.
This series was played in England after international cricket in Pakistan was effectively suspended after an armed attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore in March last year.