50 years of Pakistan cricket- Part IX (Oct 20 1997)

20 October 1997

50 years of Pakistan cricket- Part IX


Setback in England; success over IndiaOn their sixth tour of England in 1978 Pakistan were again a depleted side though thankfully the services of Sarfraz Nawaz, Haroon Rashid and Javed Miandad were available. Some objections were raised on their selection as Asif Iqbal as a co-ordinator for the World Series Cricket had been successful in enlisting them for next winter's WSC programme. However, no notice was taken of the criticism and they were part of the visiting entourage to England.

Even though the England outfit had also no Packerite representation it was comparatively a stronger side, with Ian Botham exhibiting his technical brilliance in the short series, both as a batsman and bowler, and making a difference between the two combatants. Some of the new faces in the squad failed to make their mark. Rains and overcast conditions too handicapped the pack, especially in the third Test.

England was the dominant side in the first Test at Edgbaston, Birmingham, which they won by an innings and 57 runs. Chris Old, with his hostility and fire, shook the Pakistan batting, more particularly the lower order, with seven wickets for fifty. He had four victims in five balls sending Pakistan to 126 for 9 from 125 for five. He twice missed the hat-trick, first by a no-ball and then by Liaquat's bat, frail but at that time straight. Pakistan progressed to 164 in the first knock only through the lusty and free hitting of Sarfraz.

Old's effort was only the third instance in Test cricket with four scalps in five balls - the others being M.J.C. Allom at Christchurch in 1930 and K. Cranston against South Africa at Leeds in 1947, the former having a hat-trick to his credit. With Radley 106 and Botham, scintillating while reaching exactly a hundred, England confidently reached 452 for eight, 287 runs in front. It was quite a tough job for Pakistan to save the match and they could not go beyond 231 in the second knock, losing the match by an innings. Willis persisted with bumpers against Iqbal Qasim, counted among tail-enders, and he was hit on the face and hurt. After the match Pakistan's manager, Mahmood Husain, protested against the unfair bowling action of Willis and his violation of playing conditions laid down for Tests.

The second Test at Lord's again proved to be a success for England by an innings and 120 runs. It was a rain-marred match, the first day was a total washout yet it finished in four days with Ian Botham standing out for his capital batting and bowling. He was in splendid form, driving and cutting in strong style and sure mode to achieve his century. Then he was superb with the outswingers. The ordeal through which the Pakistani batting could have been passing was unimaginable. It was, as the writers said, Botham's match. Botham's eight for 34 in Pakistan's second innings was compared to Laker's astonishing effort at Old Trafford in 1956.

The two captains, Brearley and Wasim Bari, held discussions on the players not to be intimidated by bumpers. Nothing officially was known but it was presumed that Willis and Hendrick of England and Sikander Bakht, Liaquat and Iqbal Qasim were taken as players with limited batting skill. Only 10 and a half hours play was possible in the third Test at Headingley, Leeds, as rain spoiled most of the evenings and even on the final day when the showers came they put an end to a dreary duel. The draw made little difference as the series had already gone in favour of England by 2-0. Sadiq, with a patient and steady 97, was declared man of the match while Botham duly earned the man of the series award. Sarfraz, back after his rib injury, had a haul of 5 for 39 with what was a disturbing pace for the English batsmen, the ball coming at a sharp angle. Taken in totality the English trip was a failure. Mahmood Husain, though elected, proved a harsh manager. Imtiaz, a senior cricketer, was his associate. Besides, the tour saw the whole selection committee members and many officials, their wives and children present in England for reasons better known to the executives then running the affairs of the board.

On great public demand the Packerite players were recalled to the team, also because the Indians were due to pay a visit after over 17 years of stalemate in cricketing relationship between the two countries. The leadership of the side went back to Mushtaq. The Pakistan combination again became quite balanced and powerful.

The Indian squad during their 1978 trip was a popular one under the captaincy of famed spinner Bishen Singh Bedi, who was a team-mate of Mushtaq in Northamptonshire. Apart from a few minor incidents the tour was tension-free.

The three-Test series was wrapped up by Pakistan (2-0), who displayed their strength both in batting and bowling though they were found wanting in catching. The Indian batsmen, especially some of their known willow-wielders, had the skill and methodology to face the Pakistani bowlers but generally their side lacked the bowling resources to outwit the rival team as their spinners were becoming stale and losing their sharpness. However, all-rounder Kapil Dev, making his appearance at the age of 19, proved that he had the potential to become an asset for future.

The first Test at Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad, the 49th venue in Pakistan for a representative match, was a tall-scoring one (with 1272 runs for 21 wickets) which could not have given any other result except a draw.For Pakistan Zaheer Abbas was in magnificent form; he attacked the bowling forcefully on the off-side though he appeared quite hard while dispatching the ball on the leg side. His debonair strokes that took him to 176 must have thrilled the onlookers. Javed Miandad too was precise and crisp in his unbeaten 154. Their fourth wicket partnership was a record 255 in the series.

India responded to Pakistan's first knock score of 503 for 8 with a reasonable 462 for 9 declared, falling behind by only 41 runs. Gavaskar (89), Vishwanath (145) and Vengsarkar (83) impressed with their style, skill and strokes. In the second innings Asif Iqbal reached his century after making a duck in the first knock-the second time he did so in his career - and Zaheer missed a hundred by just four runs. The Zaheer-Asif third wicket partnership was a series record with 166 runs. On the last day play was delayed as the umpires refused to take the field in protest against Gavaskar having abused Shakoor Rana. After 11 minutes a compromise was struck and the game resumed.

It was the 13th successive draw between the two countries. The strip in the second Test at the Qadhafi Stadium, Lahore, had much devil in it and both Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz achieved immense pace, which put the Indians in considerable perplexity and this included the usually composed Gavaskar. Only Vengsarkar made 76 in an innings which folded up for 199, a moderate total considering the depth in the Pakistan batting.

Zaheer Abbas batted delightfully in scoring his third double century in Test cricket. No Indian bowler could contain him. He got roars of applause from the crowds as he went on his onslaught and when he reached his hundred and double hundred. Wasim Bari (85) gave Zaheer good support and Mushtaq declared at 539 for 6, having himself made a likeable 67.

A first innings lead by Pakistan of 340 meant that India had a gigantic task on hand. India had a sound start. Gavaskar was pleasant to watch, his innings thoroughly skilful. However he missed the century as Chauhan (93) and later Vishwanath (85) were also unlucky.

When India's knock terminated with a praiseworthy effort of 465 Pakistan had been given a rather challenging target of 126 in 100 minutes, which was knocked off with 8.2 overs remaining. Pakistan deservingly won the match by eight wickets. The Indians lost the third Test and thus the series with Karachi's National Stadium packed to capacity to see Imran Khan bowling at a violent speed with control over his line and length. It was a real tribulation for the rival batsmen to face the fury of Imran and Sarfraz equally dangerous, on greenish Karachi pitch.Only Gavaskar faced the perilous situation in the second knock with an assurance that was admirable. He was unruffled and thoroughly organised in batting and his strokes, all round the wicket, showed Gavaskar to be a batsman of the highest classification. He reached his second century in the match to record another rare feat of two separate hundreds in Tests. A few weeks later he repeated the performance against the West Indies. Still the Indians could not avoid an eight-wicket defeat.

The Pakistani victory was made possible due to the breezy batting of Asif Iqbal, who went in as an opener, and perfect running between the wickets, by him and Miandad, promoted in batting order. The pair struck 97 in just nine overs to steer Pakistan to triumph. Zaheer's aggregate in five innings was 583 with a Bradmanesque average of 194.33. He passed Nurse's record against New Zealand of 558 made in the 1968-69 series.

Just three months after the Indian tour came the trips to New Zealand and Australia in February-March 1979. Pakistan did not take the earlier part of New Zealand engagements very seriously since Asif Iqbal, Zaheer and Imran Khan were allowed to play in the World Series Cricket in Australia when the first Test was to start in Christchurch. Nevertheless, they had enough talent at their disposal to brush aside the challenge of the Kiwis by 128 runs, thanks to Miandad's authoritative batting in the two innings, 81 and 160 not out, and fine bowling efforts by Sikander Bakht, Mushtaq and Wasim Raja - flew to New Zealand as a replacement for Majid Khan (injured).

Pakistan's success in the first Test settled the series as the following two Tests were drawn encounters. By the time the second Test at Napier, a new Test venue, started. Asif, Imran and Zaheer had returned to beef up the national side. The match moved towards a draw when Pakistan helped by a quick-fire hundred by Asif Iqbal and an adventurous 74 by Wasim Raja, hit up 360, apparently quite a safe and respectable score. But New Zealand too flashed forth with an impressive effort of 402, A new second wicket partnership was set by Howard and Wright for New Zealand with a score of 195. Two rain stoppages ruled out the possibility of a result but Majid made a laborious and surprisingly slow century. He reached the milestone of 3,000 runs in Tests as also Asif Iqbal.

Hadlee took his 100th wicket with a medium-paced bowling which had skill, variation of movements and vitality on his country's surface. In the third Test at Auckland rain was the ultimate winner for on the last day it intervened in the morning but later the skies opened again to put an end to the match - a resultless duel which gave the series to Pakistan 1-0 by virtue of its win in the first Test.Zaheer hit his lone century of the series to help Pakistan take a lead of 105 over New Zealand in the first knock. Hadlee struck hard and picked out the loose balls for his strokes. A score of 53 not out and five wickets, though costly, marked him out as an exceptional all-rounder.

Wasim Bari, known for his swiftness and acrobatics behind the stumps, set a world record with seven caches in New Zealand's first innings. He missed the feat of Australian keeper Langley - nine dismissals in a Test match. Pakistan moved on to Australia to level the series, with the latter wrapping up the second Test and Pakistan earning the verdict in the first one at Melbourne.

The first Test was notable for lanky fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz's winning effort for Pakistan. With vehement pace of perfect length and rhythm Sarfraz sent deliveries that cut back. Australia were racing to victory with 117 for 2 in the second knock and only 265 to be had. It was at this time that Yallop, the captain, was run out. Border, a new batting talent, played confidently and intelligently and made a record of 175 with Hughes (84) for the fourth wicket exceeding the 1972-73 mark of Ian Chappell and Ross Edwards by two runs.

When Border was overthrown by a beauty from Sarfraz for 105 the Australian slide started. The mopping up operation was done by Sarfraz, claiming nine wickets for 86, the best bowling performance by a Pakistani after Fazal's heroic deed at Lucknow (7 for 42) in the 1952-53 inaugural Test series against India. Only Arthur Mailey had taken 9 for 121 in Australia in the 1920-21 Ashes series against England. Sarfraz's fast inswingers, well-controlled, destroyed the Australians, who lost the opening Test by 71 runs. He was pick of the seamers, of whom Imran had taken four wickets in the first knock.

For Pakistan Majid made a hard-hitting hundred and was well-aided in quick-scoring by Zaheer (59) and Miandad (44) to take Pakistan to a total of 353 in the second knock. The run-out of Hogg in the Australian first innings raised some eye-brows. The tail-ender showed annoyance and disgust when he was given out by umpire Clarence Harvey, elder brother of noted Test batsman Neil. Hogg had played a no-ball from Sarfraz but then left the crease and was run out by Miandad. Skipper Mushtaq beckoned him back but the umpire refused to reverse his decision.

This was Mushtaq's 56th Test, beating brother Hanif's record of 55 appearances in Test matches. The second Test at Perth duly went in favour of Australia by seven wickets, the series was thus squared. Despite Miandad's unbeaten 129 Pakistan made a moderate 277. With Border wielding a skilful bat Australia took a lead of 40 on the first innings.In Pakistan's second knock Asif Iqbal played in his usual aggressive vein to reach three-figures. Haroon Rashid (47) and Imran curbed his impetuosity to give assistance to Asif. But Pakistan could only reach a score of 285 in the second venture, leaving Australia to make 236.

Pakistan were considerably weakened in bowling due to the swollen fingers of Mushtaq and Sikander Bakht, unfit with back trouble. Australia had 285 minutes to reach the target. They romped home with the loss of three wickets. Unfortunately Majid Khan, Wasim Bari and Sikander got a pair in the match.

The second Test too was not incident-free. Hilditch was given out 'handled the ball.' The batsman picked up the ball returned from a fielder in rather a friendly way. An appeal was made and he was given out. In the same match fast bowler Hurst ran out Sikander, at the non-striker's end when he was backing up while the bowler had completed the delivery. Old-timers may recall the run-out of Brown by Vinoo Mankad in the Indo-Australian series of 1947-48.

(To be continued)

Source:: Dawn (http://dawn.com/)