Australia back from dead in Boxing Day Test win
IT WAS supposed to be a boring draw but Australia has produced one of its most famous victories by coming back from the dead in the Boxing Day Test.
Unable to make inroads into the Pakistan batting lineup during two rain-affected days, the hosts looked miles away from forcing a result in Melbourne.
But an MCG record total of 8/624 - delivered through exceptional batting performances by David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc - set up the unlikely chance of a win on day five.
Needing 10 wickets in little more than two sessions, the Aussies needed help from the Pakistan batting lineup - and they got it as the visitors capitulated for 163 in 53.2 overs.
Starc - who set a record for the most sixes (seven) in an innings at the MCG - put the finishing touches on one of the finest days of his career by claiming 4/36 in Pakistan's second innings, including the final three wickets.
As Australia claimed an unlikely innings victory, commentator Bill Lawry criticised Pakistan for an abysmal final day display. "I'm not sure how you can lose a match when you score 9/443 declared," he said. "I think they lost the plot, they were very sloppy in the field today."
Under-siege visiting captain Misbah-ul-Haq said his team lost control of the game late on day three when Warner and Khawaja scored freely to quickly return Australia to the contest.
"443 runs in the first innings was a good total, but we couldn't (create) any pressure (with the ball) on the first day (of Australia's innings). 58 overs, 278 runs - that was where we lost all the momentum."
Australia will head to the SCG for the third Test with the series already in the bag and riding the momentum of three consecutive victories after being outplayed by South Africa in Perth and Hobart to open the home summer.
New faces in Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb have helped spur the turnaround - as has the continued excellence of skipper Steve Smith and fast bowling duo Josh Hazlewood and Starc.
"We have a lot of belief in the guys around at the moment," Smith said. "Guys are doing the hard yards to try and improve every day. We have still got a long way to go, we are only a new team, but it has been a great sort of transition.
"The guys have played beautifully the last couple of weeks and thoroughly deserve the accolades they get. I'm just really proud of the way the boys came out here today and really wanted to win this game and wrap up the series."
Australia 8/624 declared; defeated Pakistan 9/443 declared and 163, by an innings and 18 runs.