No. 14 March 22, 2009

Imran bowls Vishy

Rajan Bala
Pakistan's captain sends a chill down Indian spines in Karachi


Imran gets Gavaskar before going on to mesmerise Viswanath © Wisden Cricket Monthly
 

Karachi, 25 December 1982

Around the time that the government of Pakistan persuaded the United States to give it the F-16, Pakistan's adoring cricket fans began to refer to their captain Imran Khan by the name of the fighter-jet. This was after he had led the way to a 3-0 series victory against India, taking as many as 40 wickets.

Imran was at his fast-bowling peak then, and at that express pace got the ball to swing late and seam disconcertingly. There were even whispers from the Indian camp that the ball had been doctored, a suggestion Imran angrily denied, asking the visiting team to get their own umpires.

In the first Karachi Test, India were 283 behind on the first innings and battling to avoid defeat. Sunl Gavaskar (42) and Dilip Vengsarkar (79) had been involved in a second-wicket association of 74 when Imran struck, bowling the Indian captain, the best opening batsman in the game, with one that did him for sheer pace.

Enter Gundappa Viswanath, with the score at 102. Six runs later he was gone, bowled by Imran for nought. A chill pierced every Indian heart at the National Stadium.

Vishy had let the delivery go, never believing it would come back so much. But it, quite incredibly, did. It was a season when Imran could do no wrong. Here he was magnificent. Vishy rates this delivery, along with the legcutter from Vanburn Holder that bowled him in Bombay in 1975, as the two best that got him out.

For the record, Imran finished with 8 for 60 from 20.1 overs in that second innings.

Rajan Bala is a veteran Indian cricket writer. This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine