Zimbabwe reflections: Test triumph, toss and tampering (23 November 1998)

23 November 1998

Zimbabwe reflections: Test triumph, toss and tampering

By Qamar Ahmed

Zimbabwe are currently on their third tour of Pakistan. Underdogs they may be, they certainly do however qualify as a team which has the potential to stage upsets. Their from and fitness in recent times almost makes them a threatening proposition and it will be foolish to suggest that an already dilapidated Pakistan outfit would have an easy sailing against them.

Only recently they have beaten India in a Test at home to register their only second win in Test matches since they entered the Test arena in 1992-93. At Sharjah later on they displayed as much tenacity to reach the finals. Their first win in a Test, however, was against Pakistan at Harare in February of 1995 when Pakistan has lost the first ever Test against South Africa at Johannesburg and after a dismal tour of that country had arrived in Zimbabwe on their first full fledged tour.

The thing however which sticks to my mind is of course their first victory in a Test ever. Their was jubilation all round for the Zimbabweans. The Harare Sports Club oozed with delight and deservedly so because their victory by an innings and 64 runs was as reassuring as it was emphatic. For Pakistan it was unquestionably, embarrassing to say the least. The series however was won by Pakistan 2-1.

They had then become the only second team of this century after South Africa to have won a series after losing the first Test. A feat which was later emulated by Sri Lanka against Pakistan in Pakistan.

Zimbabwe's first ever win in a Test and Pakistan's first defeat against them raised many an eyebrow. In the aftermath of it the captain on tour Salim Malik was accused by the Australians Tim May, Shane Warne and Mark Waugh for offering them money to play poorly in a series earlier in Pakistan, the controversy which sadly still rages.

But let me stay with the drama and the controversy during Pakistan's first defeat against Zimbabwe at Harare. The toss just before the start of play was disputed, Henry Olonga gained the distinction of being the first non-white to play for Zimbabwe in a Test and was no balled for throwing. The commotion in the Pakistan dressing room startled us all who were covering the series. Later in the third Test, the Pakistan captain Salim Malik made allegations that Ian Robinson, the Zimbabwean umpire had tampered with the ball. Aamir Sohail had also joined him in the furore. Salim Malik was fined 50 per cent of his match fee for that an Aamir Sohail was severely reprimanded.As far as I remember, it was the first occasion that the toss in a Test was retaken. It so happened that when Andy Flower tossed the coin, his counterpart Salim Malik for some mind-boggling reason shouted 'Bird' instead of calling a 'head or a 'tail'. The bird, an eagle is of course the national symbol of Zimbabwe which also decorates one side of a coin. The bird side of the coin was visible as it fell. Pakistan captain claimed the toss and was congratulated by the home captain at Malik decided to bat.

The referee, Jackie Hendricks, a former captain of the West Indies, however, had other ideas. He at once put his foot down disputing the toss and the call by Salim Malik and ordered the toss to be retaken. Perhaps the referee was in the knowledge of another incident a couple of years ago in New Zealand when it was Salim Malik again who instead of calling head or tail had mumbled something in Urdu and had claimed the toss against Ken Rutherford, the New Zealand captain who had protested but reluctantly accepted Malik's version.

Here at Harare, Hendricks was not prepared to accept that, and the toss was retaken. Pakistan on this occasion lost it and Zimbabwe taking advantage of it made 554 for 4 to bowl Pakistan out for 322 and 158 to win the match.

Wasim Akram had 1 for 95, Kabir Khan 1 for 142, Akram Raza 0 for 112. Grant Flower had made an unbeaten 201, Andy Flower 156, and Guy Whittal an unbeaten 113. One can imagine the punishment that the Pakistan bowlers were subjected to as the Zimbabwean romped home with a win.

The defeat was followed distressing argument the dressing room as a couple of Pakistan players decided to settle their differences on the tour, and the manner in which the test was lost. The curiosity of the touring media-men was as much noticeable. We turned around from our seats in the press marquee to find out about the commotion which had shaken the dressing room. The press was curious to know and enquired from me if I knew what was going on in the dressing room. Embarrassed as I was, I had to pretend that I didn't know Punjabi.

Pakistan won the second Test at Bulawayo by eight wickets and the final by 99 runs to take the series. Wasim Akram had taken 13 wickets in the series and Inzamam-ul-Haq had made 101 in the final Test. The three matches of one-day series ended as a draw. The first match was tied, the second was won by Pakistan and the third by Zimbabwe.

The series was not however over before the Pakistan captain, Malik accused umpire Robinson of tampering with the ball in the final Test at Harare. The umpire, he alleged, had put the sweat from his forehead on the rough side of the ball thus depriving the reverse swing to the bowlers.

A technique which is legitimately used by the bowlers. To polish one side of the ball and keep it shining and leaving the other side rough. Robinson taking offence had complained to the referee along with his colleague Steve Randall over Malik's allegation and some choice word's used by Aamir Sohail. Malik was fined, Sohail was reprimanded. Pakistan later were fined 25 per cent of the match fee for keeping slow over rate in the final Test.

Rashid Latif and Basit Ali announced their retirement after the first One-day.

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