Australia's salvation in the desert was still more than two hours away when coach Justin Langer felt the team had earned respect for fighting so hard. By the end of a memorable day in Dubai, Langer reckoned that the performance of Usman Khawaja - which has bumped him up into the top ten of the Test rankings for the first time - Tim Paine and their undermanned collective had entered the same career-changing territory he once shared with Adam Gilchrist.
Hobart 1999, and a successful chase of 369 after being 5 for 126 against Pakistan, has always been a key part of the Langer story, and he revealed that he had invoked that performance when talking with the team before day five began. "I actually talked about that Test match this morning to the boys before the game," Langer said afterwards. "And I remember that Test match because it was against Pakistan obviously and there was personal involvement but what was important for some individuals in that game but more importantly it was for the team.
"We felt if we could win from there we could win from anywhere. For us to draw from where we've been throughout this game that's going to be a huge confidence booster to help us build this team. And back then when we won 16 straight Test matches. Now I'm not saying this team is going to do that obviously but what I am saying is it was a huge confidence booster back then and I've got no doubt for this young team and a very young captain that's a booster for them and never underestimate how victories like that, even though it was a draw, what a significant event that can be for building a team.
"I'm so proud of the boys. I actually said at tea time, regardless what happens in the last two hours I was so proud of the way the boys fought. We said we're really going to really fight hard and try and make Australians proud of us again. And I think it was an amazing finish for us to get the draw but just the way the boys fought it out was brilliant. I thought besides that mad couple of hours where we lost 10-60 I thought the boys fought and worked so hard throughout the game, it was a really great performance."
Langer spoke with enormous pride at the way Khawaja had performed, shedding seven kilos since the South Africa tour and committing fully to the new coach's regime, before putting on a masterclass in batting against the spinning and reverse-swinging ball across two innings, the second now behind only Michael Atherton's Wanderers epic in 1995 among the longest fourth innings ever played.
"I've got so much admiration for Uzzie. Look at him. He's got himself really, really fit to bat in these conditions and to do what he's done is a great credit to him but then to also overcome the demons, people have talked about whether he can play spin bowling," Langer said.
"I had never had a single doubt that Usman Khawaja could play spin bowling. And it's great to see him getting the benefits of the Australian A tour and then the work he's put into it to get rewarded for all the work he's put in is massive for him. No doubt, he's done some great things in Test cricket but when you have an innings like he's just had then and a game actually - not just that innings - but the first innings was brilliant as well.
"You never underestimate again how that can take you to even a further level in your career. I've got huge, always have had, as a player but huge admiration for what he's done over the last six months. He's done well, he's made runs in county cricket, runs in Australia A cricket now he's just had two brilliant innings in Test cricket. He's doing exactly what we are asking of all batsmen in Australia to do. Be a good person, be super fit, and score lots of runs. It's a great credit to him that he's doing that.
"Just as a senior Australian player there's always high expectation on him but he's embraced it, hasn't he. He's embraced it so well and he's another great example of leadership without a title. He's a senior player. He's played the most Tests in the Australian team at the moment besides Nathan … and he hasn't got a 'c' or 'vc' next to his name but he's providing massive leadership to the group by everything he's doing on and off the cricket field. He's so calm, he's got a good temperament, he's leading by example in his preparation, he's leading by example in his performance so that's the leadership we are talking about."
A significant moment in the match involved both Khawaja and Langer, as they shared advice to the team's other left-handers in the middle on the third night, little more than an hour after Australia had lost 10 for 60 in the first innings. Langer explained this "left-handers convention" as a moment of instruction but also bonding among what he called a different breed. The effects were seen in particular for the debutant Travis Head, who went from a nervy duck in the first innings to a critical 72 alongside Khawaja in the second.
"I'm a batting tragic. I love it. I've got a batting coach Hicky (Graeme Hick), he's a great bloke but every now and then I just like to get my hands dirty. I love talking about batting and especially left-handers," Langer said. "We're a different breed, left-handers, we've got to get our eyes that way… but anyway… but just recognise you've got to have a game plan. In these conditions, one of the things about batting as a left-hander is there's always rough there and you've got to deal with rough whether it's a left-arm spinner or a leggie or even an offspinner trying to tempt us to drive. So you've got to have a game plan.
"One thing all the great players will tell you playing anywhere, you've got to have a game plan. So we just talked about what our game plans can be. Recognise that the rough is going to play a part in the game and then work out how you're going to play it. Travis Head's innings in the second innings was brilliant. The way he's developing, I think he's got a great future in Australian cricket. The way he's used his feet back and forth, the way he overcame getting a duck in the first innings and then getting 70-odd.
"That takes a lot of courage what he did and to also play his game. He's a very aggressive player. He's also improving his defence so they're the sort of things we talk about. And then to have Uzzie out there and Shaun Marsh who has played a lot of cricket. Just a nice batters, left-handers convention. The bowlers have got their cartel or whatever they call themselves, Damien Fleming and all these clowns. The backmen in footy call themselves the bulls, and we were just having a little left-handers convention, that's all we were doing..."
Naturally, too, Langer spoke of the difference this result would make to the way the Australian team was received back home, having delivered a salvage operation that meant they were, for the first time in 2018, the subject of conversation that was enthusiastic rather than derisory.
"Whether we win or lose we've got to keep making Australians proud of how we go about our business. I've said it since day one and I really mean it," he said. "I hope to think our behaviour out on the field was outstanding throughout this game. The spirit between Australia and Pakistan was outstanding throughout the game. The way we kept fighting was outstanding throughout the game and then to hold on like we did.
"Aussies love a battler and Aussies love an underdog so hopefully we've put some smiles, we've got lots of fans back home hopefully put some smiles on their faces because that's really important for Australian cricket right now that we do that. There's been so much talk about how we play in the sub-continent which is fair enough and also our batting collapses.
"I knew we'd had great preparation and I knew there's a brilliant spirit in the team. It's really calm in there at the moment so to see that. It was really deflating for everyone actually. When we had that collapse literally it was so deflating because the things I believe in in great teams, the preparation and camaraderie it was all there and then we have a performance like that and we all start questioning where we're at. Then to see the way the boys put that preparation into practice throughout the game but particularly that second innings is a great credit to all of them."