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If the 1974 Pakistan team, so ably led by Intikhab Alam, did not succeed in beating England in any of the three Test Matches, all of which were drawn, they gained the distinction of being the first visiting country to the U.K. since Sir Donald Bradman's Australians in 1948 of going through their programme without suffering defeat. The only difference was that Bradman's men played 31 matches whereas the Pakistanis came for half a season of 17 first-class fixtures.
Assembling in mid-June, the Pakistanis immediately revealed their strength with a number of impressive performances during the first four weeks of their tour before they faced England in the first Test.
Of their first eight first-class engagements they won six, mastering Leicestershire, Somerset, Middlesex, Kent, Nottinghamshire and Minor Counties, while bad weather contributed to drawn games with Northamptonshire and Warwickshire. Somerset, under Brian Close, gave them their closest shave at Bath where they won in the last over by five runs.
The following week they beat Middlesex at Lord's by six wickets with seven balls to spare after a blank first day. This victory came through Intikhab's enterprise after Asif Masood, with five wickets for 35, had helped to dismiss Middlesex in their first innings for 77.
At the second attempt the leg spinners, Mushtaq Mohammad, seven for 59 -- his best bowling figures in England -- and Intikhab, bowled out Middlesex by the first over of the final hour. This left Pakistan to get 112 in sixteen overs in inferior light at seven runs an over. Intikhab promoted himself to number four and he hit with such power that he scored 61 off 38 balls and his side triumphed splendidly.
So to the Test Matches -- and in all three Intikhab won the toss to gain the initial advantage, but in none did things go according to plan. In the first Test at Headingley, both sets of seam bowlers held sway on a pitch that all found to their liking. England were pleased to dismiss Pakistan for 285, their innings being interrupted on the first day by a bomb hoax.
While Arnold, Old and Hendrick excelled for England, Masood, Sarfraz and Imran did better for Pakistan, who led by 102, but with the batsmen still held in chains Pakistan's second innings yielded only 179 runs. England needed 282 and thanks to the skill of Edrich, Denness and Fletcher they finished the fourth day within 44 of their objective with four wickets in hand. The issue was wide open but a drizzle set in and no further play was possible.
Ill luck dogged Pakistan in the second Test at Lord's; twice they were trapped on a damp pitch ready made for Underwood, who took thirteen wickets for 71 runs after Sadiq Mohammad and Majid Khan had given their side a flying start before the first storm broke.
Over the week-end torrential rain penetrated the covers, which brought a heated protest from the Pakistan management. England entered the last innings requiring only 87 to win, but as at Headingley the last day was abortive and in a sense justice was done, although the England players felt that twice the weather had robbed them of victory.
It was a different story at the Oval. Pakistan now aimed to get the 600 runs they had promised themselves on the first morning at Lord's and this time they succeeded, but they occupied nearly two days in the process.
Zaheer Abbas played a great innings of 240, Majid Khan having set the right tempo with a brilliant opening 98. Everyone who went to the crease reached double figures, but Pakistan had not left themselves sufficient time to dismiss England twice in just over three days.
Amiss (183) and Fletcher (122) were mainly instrumental in England making 545 and frustrating struggle provided Pakistan, let alone the spectators, with little, if any, satisfaction.
Apart from the absence of a left-arm slow bowler who would have been invaluable in such a wet summer -- as Underwood proved -- Pakistan possessed the strongest combination they had ever brought to England and, moreover, they generally played excellent cricket.
Eight of the seventeen players -- Imran Khan joined the party when Oxford University, whom he captained, had completed their fixtures, were experienced in county cricket and were used to English conditions as were also Aftab Gul, Asif Masood and that very fine wicket-keeper Wasim Bari.
As many as eight of the side averaged over 30 in the first-class matches, a fact which emphasized the solidarity of the batting. Shafiq Ahmed, who hit his only hundred in the first match of the tour against Leicestershire, opened with the devastating left-handed Sadiq Mohammad in the first Test, but accomplished little and gave way to Wasim Raja, a punishing middle-order batsman, while Majid Khan moved up to open most effectively in the second and third Tests.
If the bowling did not quite come up to expectations, it was formidable on many occasions with two hostile new ball experts in Sarfraz Nawaz and Asif Masood. The improvement in Sarfraz after his failure three years earlier when he returned to his county, Northamptonshire, during the tour, was quite surprising.
The young Imran Khan, cousin of Majid, showed his quality as an all-rounder and he should be a powerful figure in Pakistan cricket for years to come. Also supplementing the fastish attack were the vice captain Asif Iqbal, of Kent fame, and Nasir Malik.
The captain, Intikhab, took most wickets, 44, with his mixed wrist spinners, and Mushtaq Mohammad with similar ability, headed the bowling with 37 wickets at 17.89.
For the most part the fielding was maintained at a high level and the players were popular wherever they went under their capable manager Mr. Omar Kureishi.
When the team returned to Pakistan, Mr. A.H. Kardar, the former Oxford Blue and Warwickshire player, and now president of the Pakistan Cricket Board of Control, said Pakistan would try to introduce a new constitution for the International Cricket Conference which would abolish the veto rights of the two founder members, England and Australia.
The veto, he contended, was undemocratic and a new constitution would also provide for I.C.C. meetings to be held outside England instead of annually at Lord's under the chairmanship of the current M.C.C. President.
Match reports for
1st Test: England v Pakistan at Leeds, Jul 25-30, 1974
2nd Test: England v Pakistan at Lord's, Aug 8-13, 1974
3rd Test: England v Pakistan at The Oval, Aug 22-27, 1974
1st ODI: England v Pakistan at Nottingham, Aug 31, 1974
2nd ODI: England v Pakistan at Birmingham, Sep 3, 1974