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1977

It began in Sydney

Pakistan cricket's rise in modern times can be traced back to a landmark win in Australia 35 years ago

Saad Shafqat

December 17, 2011

Comments: 64 | Text size: A | A

Imran Khan bowls, 1982
Imran Khan transformed from medium pace to fast and lethal © PA Photos
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There was no morning television in Pakistan in the 1970s, but early on January 18, 1977, TV sets throughout the country were switched on to catch a satellite feed from Sydney. Thirty-five years later, any reference to that moment still stops people mid-stride. Their eyes grow distant and you can see they have been transported into a trance.

The picture is grainy and fleeting. There is a throng on the Hill chanting Lillee's name. Majid Khan is taking guard; you can't see his face, but there is the unmistakable stance, and atop his head the threadbare floppy hat that he will later bestow on Lillee as a prize for knocking it off. Two Pakistan wickets have fallen, but Majid has also lifted Lillee for six. The target, in any case, is only 32 - too slim to be defended, even by Lillee's venomous arts.

How Pakistan found themselves in this position encapsulates their cricketing ethos. Bruised after a fight with their cricket board, and stung by what some thought was an indifferent reception in Australia, they were determined to make an impact. They ended up with a Test win that transformed their psyche and altered the course of Pakistan's cricket history.

Imran Khan was not yet the Imran Khan of legend. He recently recalled a green wicket, helpful conditions, and a deep itch to win. "That victory represents a watershed moment for Pakistan," he said, emphasising each word in his signature manner. "It was very important for me personally, because I became recognised as a genuine fast bowler."

Indeed, this was Imran's metamorphosis, when he entered a medium-pacer and emerged a fast bowler to be reckoned with among the best. Debuting in 1971, he had been an intermittent presence in the team, and this was only his 10th Test. His incoming record was 25 wickets at 43.52. Considering that the origins of an entire fast-bowling dynasty are embedded in his 12 wickets in Sydney, it is ironic that Imran's ambition at the time was merely to cement himself as the new-ball partner alongside Sarfraz Nawaz.

There was a special significance to the turn of the year in 1976. Test cricket's centenary, it was aggressively promoted in Australia as their 100th home season. Australia's captain, Greg Chappell, was recognised as the national sportsman of the year, beating out stiff competition from compatriots who were Olympic heroes and world champions in other sports. Later in the season there would be a series against New Zealand and a landmark Centenary Test against England in Melbourne. But first, the Pakistanis had to be tackled.

The tour almost didn't happen. A month before departure, Pakistan's top players confronted the cricket board chief, Abdul Hafeez Kardar, demanding better salaries. Controversy erupted on a dramatic scale, resolved only through the intervention of a cabinet minister. An unforgiving disciplinarian, Kardar never got over it. During the opening Test in Adelaide, after some of the dissenting players fell for low scores - including a second-ball duck for the chief spokesman, Asif Iqbal - he sent the team a telegram mocking their efforts. "We left for that tour in a bitter atmosphere," recalls Asif. "Kardar had made us feel small for demanding better pay when all we wanted was more dignity, which was important for the future of Pakistan cricket."

Kardar's sarcastic prod may have been an important motivator, though it was not the only one. Pakistan's previous tour to Australia had left scars; Sydney had been the venue of a particularly bitter defeat. Since then, a number of Pakistanis had excelled for various county teams in the English summer. Pakistan had succeeded in winning their first overseas rubber, in New Zealand in 1973, and the following year went through an entire tour of England without a single defeat - which hadn't happened since Bradman's Australians did it in 1948.

In the autumn of 1976, Mushtaq Mohammad took over the captaincy from Intikhab Alam and immediately led the team to an emphatic home series win over New Zealand. By the time the Pakistanis arrived in Australia, they felt they could win and were dying to prove it.

"We wanted to shake off our sense of inferiority," says Imran, echoing the feelings of his team-mates and millions of compatriots.

Several accounts of the Sydney Test have appeared over the years. Mushtaq, Imran, and Javed Miandad referred to it in their autobiographies, as did Dennis Lillee, who wrote in Menace that he found Pakistan with "a much tougher attitude, more aggressive in every area". A particularly full sketch is present in Greg Chappell's The 100th Summer, an absorbing record of that season. Pakistan's heroes from that match recollect the contest proudly but in broad strokes - the kind of memory you might have if you go through a seminal experience without knowing that one day it will be mythologised.

 
 
Pakistan's heroes from the match recollect the contest proudly but in broad strokes - the kind of memory you might have if you go through a seminal experience without knowing that one day it will be mythologised
 

Even before the first ball was bowled, Sydney's mottled pitch raised many eyebrows. Mushtaq wanted to bowl first and was surprised when Chappell opted to bat. Chappell's reasoning was that Australia would avoid batting in the fourth innings against Pakistan, whose bowling line-up included three spinners. He wasn't worried about Sarfraz and Imran, thinking them medium-pacers who Australia would weather through the morning, after which the wicket would ease up.

Minutes into the match, Sarfraz had opener Alan Turner caught behind. Sarfraz kept a steady fourth-stump line, finding movement both off the seam and in the air. He remembers the wicket as helpful and lively. "Imran and I kept talking to each other and encouraging each other between overs," he says. "Australia's batsmen came under pressure and that kept us going. Imran bowled with express pace."

At the other end, Imran was certainly producing hostile speed and bounce. The pounding in Wasim Bari's gloves told him he had never before collected deliveries of such velocity. Imran kept hitting spots on the pitch from where the ball reared up at the batsman's throat. He and Sarfraz bowled unchanged for a long spell. They were eight-ball overs, but the steady fall of wickets kept them going.

In Pakistan, fans were electrified when Australia were dismissed for 211. After a fighting draw in Adelaide and a one-sided defeat in Melbourne, suddenly there was a beam of hope.

In reply, Pakistan started briskly, but soon wobbled at 111 for 4. Both openers were gone, in addition to captain Mushtaq and the in-form Zaheer Abbas.

Time and again Asif had displayed an ability to be sharply focused in adversity. Here he put his head down and crafted yet another recovery. With substantial help from Haroon Rasheed, who made 57 on debut, and Miandad, who had struggled thus far in Australia but now fought his way to an impressive 64, Asif made an unforgettable century to pull his team ahead.

"It was an innings notable for extreme concentration and application," Chappell wrote. Asif's memory of that knock is dominated by the need to get past Australia. "I had already got a big hundred in Adelaide to save the match," he says. "Now everything was about taking a big lead. I didn't know Haroon then, but he played well. I had more faith in Miandad; he played well too. Playing with these youngsters lifted me up."

Despite a lead of 149, anxiety prevailed in the Pakistan camp. There was fear of an Australian backlash, and the worry that the bowling success in the first innings might have been a fluke. Such worries were short-lived. Sarfraz produced his away movement and dangerous off-stump line again, while Imran had passed into another dimension altogether, from which he would never look back for the rest of his career.

Pakistan's fielding too touched new heights. Bari took seven catches behind the stumps in the match. Zaheer even broke his glasses diving for a sharp chance, and substitute fielder Wasim Raja fired in a throw that ran out Rod Marsh. "The dressing-room atmosphere was of comradeship," remembers Bari. "In order to do well on a tour you have to be enjoying yourself, and we certainly were."

Success in Sydney infused Pakistan with self-belief and a vision. It also unearthed for them an authentic fast bowler, a necessity for any great team, and which up to that point had seemed biologically implausible from the subcontinent. Most important was the shift in mindset. "Top-level cricket demands great physical skill, but 60% of it is psychological," notes Imran. Sydney provided Pakistan with that inner mental advantage, an x factor.

If you track Pakistan's win-loss ratio in Test cricket through time, it forms what scientists call a J-shaped curve. After success in the 1950s, the line dips into a disappointing trough of defeats through the '60s. As you get into the '70s, the team stops losing, which arrests the decline, but since there are few wins, the graph stays flat. It is after Sydney in 1977 that it starts sloping upwards - a trend that has continued into modern times, giving Pakistan the third-best cumulative win-loss ratio in Test history, behind Australia and England.

Saad Shafqat is a writer based in Karachi

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Posted by salman_0902 on (December 19, 2011, 22:40 GMT)

If Only Pakistan had good fielders who could take all the chances they were offered.

Posted by kamranwasti on (December 19, 2011, 3:34 GMT)

The fast-bowling competition was held in 1978-1979. The guns did not track the 'release speed' as they do now and showed the speed at the time of the ball reaching the bat. I think the final readings show a cut by at least 10% because it is hard to imagine Michael Holding not crossing 142kph even once. A 10% addition would give him around 155 kph which seems viable because from 1976 to 1981-82, Holding was lightning fast and still genuinely quick in 1983 to blow India away even on the slow, low tracks when he got 30 wickets. The same results show Sarfraz at 121 kph. Even though he was not express, this speed is clocked by people like Paul Collingwood and co. Even Dennis Lillee with a peak speed of 136 is hard to digest. Lillee did reduce his pace after his injury but apart from his famous MCG spells against England in 1979, when he bowled leg-cutter after leg-cutter on a slow, low wicket, he is not known to have bowled medium pace during the 1970s.

Posted by kamranwasti on (December 19, 2011, 3:19 GMT)

The next test was this Sydney test and it was again played on a green wicket - Greg Chappell, in the fact the whole Australian team and media, had no regard for Pakistani pace attack till then and they were justified because apart from Imran's second innings spell at Melbourne, they had bowled very poorly. So he chose to bat first on a green wicket under heavily overcast skies once more as Saad Shafqat put it. Imran criticised the Pakistani team selection for the match in his book as it included just three specialist bowlers with Mushtaq, Asif and Miandad to back up. Given the conditions, Imran notes, Pakistan did bowl well and got them out for 211 with Imran getting six (including Chappell with a lifting leg-cutter). Asif Iqbal then scored another magnificent century - he played some unbelievable innings with the tail and Pakistan led by 149. It was then Imran all the way as he bowled at extreme pace and ended up ripping his shirt apart through sheer effort.

Posted by kamranwasti on (December 19, 2011, 3:06 GMT)

@ vinvashisht Imran always had it in him to bowl fast but was brought up originally as a part-time outwing bowler. An injury in his teens affected a change in action which made the inswinger replace the outswinger as his stock ball. During the 1976-77 New Zealand series, he bowled some fast spells but again looked towards Australia as an opportunity to bowl more medium-paced inswing. During the second test at Melbourne, he was given a fast bouncy wicket that also had grass under a heavy cloud cover and he failed miserably trying to control his swing. After a bad early spell in the second innings, he realised he could not take a beating laying low and decided to go all out, getting five wickets and hitting a few including Rod Marsh on his head. That was his first sustained spell of genuine fast bowling and he felt being 'a complete fast bowler in his eyes'. Some good advice from a holidaying Geoff Boycott and more wickets in the game against Queensland on that tour gave him the guts.

Posted by HellDiver on (December 18, 2011, 22:44 GMT)

@mhb1: Imran changed his action from front-on to side-on during the WSC cricket. Actually Imran was 3rd fastest after Thomson and Holding, not Marshall. If I remember correctly, there were more than 1 category in that competition and in one category, either average speed over the 6 or 8 ball over, or the fastest ball bowled, Imran was second after Thomson. In the other category he was third after Thomson and Holding.

Posted by Venkatb on (December 18, 2011, 21:43 GMT)

This Test may have been the birth of Imran but the Pakistan renaissance had much to do with the grit of Miandad as well. The team from the mid-70s was world-class with Majid, Sadiq, Zaheer, Mushtaq, Miandad, Raja, Asif Iqbal, Alam, Imran, Bari, Sarfraz in the ranks. Indians would jump up and down but those old enough to remember would know the complete humiliation endured at the hands of the Pakistanis. In those days, playing for the English counties was a privilege and Pakistani players were courted, while India had only Engineer, Bedi and Venkat! Further when the Kerry Packer circus began, the best of the world was courted but not one Indian player made it. Let us give these Pakistani players their due credit - they were an equal to the raw power of the Aussies and the Windies teams of the 70s.

Posted by   on (December 18, 2011, 20:03 GMT)

Imran was more than a cricketer. He changed the way PAK played in the years to come. Natural aggression with talent and attitude. I believe no other cricketing nation has produced consistently so many match winners than Pakistan who won them matches with their sheer brilliance on many occasions single-handedly. Imran believed that anything in life, if it is really well done, becomes an art and his bowling art was example to millions in PAK. He was the original transformer and left mark so deep that everybody wanted to bowl like him. Yes even today in the most basic street cricket in pakistan, you're good if you bowl as fast as you can. Secondly, our fast bowlers' lengths are different from others, they like bowling up targeting the stumps. Bowled and LBW are preferred rather than caught behind etc. Can't rely on our fielders too much:) Imran, Wasim, Waqar and Shoaib are shinning examples to the world but all this started by none other than Imran!

Posted by mhb1 on (December 18, 2011, 18:11 GMT)

@vinvashisht he totally changed his bowling action which helped him to become the 3rd fastest bowler after jeff, malcolm respectively in a fast bowling competition !

Posted by   on (December 18, 2011, 18:11 GMT)

wow...thats something cool to hear about Pakistan Test Cricket!!

Posted by vinvashisht on (December 18, 2011, 17:39 GMT)

How does a bowler go from medium fast to fast? I can see it going the other way but what did Imran do to increase the pace?

Posted by   on (December 18, 2011, 16:57 GMT)

i still remember Majid khan hitting SIx off Deniss Lillee.it was unbelievable. some of the gr8 cricketers played for pakistan that time. i also remeber Asifs fighting century aongwith Iqbal qassim,possibly in Adelaide test,saving the test.

Posted by Engle on (December 18, 2011, 16:13 GMT)

An excellent article by Shafqat. That performance by Imran perked up eyebrows worldwide, considering he upstaged the great Lillee on his home turf. Sobers quoted that if Imran bowled better than Lillee, then Lillee must have been bowling at half-pace. How he was proven wrong as Imran blossomed into a much respected purveyor of pace. IIRC, in fact it was Lillee who advised Imran, prior to the match, not to get over-excited at the prospect of a pacer's paradise pitch and control his deliveries, which he did to devastating effect. Imran, the gawky kid on Test debut, had now stepped up the echelons to take his place amongst the best of his generation. In matches against the great Lillee, Hadlee and Marshall, Imran bested them statistically with more wkts/better averages. That he then provided a path for others to follow and trailblazed and guided the younger pacers selflessly only adds to his aura and lifts him to the level of greatness, probably just a tad behind the legendary Sobers.

Posted by khurramsch on (December 18, 2011, 15:35 GMT)

@khiladisher : mate spend sometime & check stats in cric info for over all win loss ration or matches won then talk. 1 series ar few matches where u won dosnt speak all.

Posted by mhb1 on (December 18, 2011, 14:52 GMT)

@khiladisher if u r favouring india then talk about india vs pakistan forget the rest of the world no one needs to show you its on records pakistan is the 2nd best in odi & 3rd in test overall now lets talk about india vs pakistan can you tell me when was the first series india won at pakistan ??? & when did pakistan won against india for the first time ??? please let us all know

Posted by mhb1 on (December 18, 2011, 13:03 GMT)

@ khiladisher u must be kidding right because what ever the strenght india were on to whether its bowling or batting they won their 1st test series in pakistan after around 50 years whereas pakistan on the other hand won the test series with mediocre batting line up according to you won it just after its existence in cricket world ! like shoib said sachin is your god not mine similarily hes a gud batsmens a legend i say but look at his test & oneday debut score card when he was facing the two W's bowled by waqar in test & then in odi bowled by waqar nad caught by wasim not thats something interesting and also then look at the video in which he said the two W's were streaming into me P.S in that odi pakistan 87 and india with great batting lineup all out 80

Posted by khiladisher on (December 18, 2011, 12:36 GMT)

@SHAHNAZBHAT- PAKISTAN HAS A VERY POOR RECORD IN WEST INDIES-AUSTRALIA AND SOUTH AFRICA-WHERE THEY HAVE FAILED TO WIN ANY TEST SERIES{IN ALL THESE THREE COUNTRIES EVEN AFTER 60 YEARS}AND PAKISTAN HAS ONLY WON 1 TEST SERIES EVER AGAINST INDIA{IN 1987],WHERE INDIA DOMINATED PAKISTAN IN ALL THE FIRST FOUR TESTS AND WERE UNLUCKY TO LOSE THE LAST TEST AT BANGALORE BY ONLY 16 RUNS- IN SPITE OF GAVASKARS GREAT INNINGS OF 96. PAKISTAN IN SPITE OF HAVING A GREAT BOWLING ATTACK IN THE 1980S AND 90S COULD NOT BEAT INDIA DURING THE 1989 OR THE THE 1999 SERIES-WHICH ENDED 0-0 AND 1-1 RESPECTIVELY.THE OVERALL PAKISTAN RECORD IS HUGELY OVERRATED BY BEATING SRI LANKA AND NEW ZEALAND-PAKISTAN TEST RECORD IS VERY POOR FROM 2000-2011.

Posted by   on (December 18, 2011, 9:27 GMT)

iam proud of asif iqbal, who comes from Hyderabad Deccan india

Posted by   on (December 18, 2011, 8:16 GMT)

wow pakistan team is amazing imran miandad u are awesome

Posted by smalishah84 on (December 18, 2011, 8:07 GMT)

Imran Khan is the man. I hope can do for Pakistan politically and economically what he did on the cricket field

Posted by   on (December 18, 2011, 7:02 GMT)

Always loved Imran Khan, statesman cricketer

Posted by   on (December 18, 2011, 6:53 GMT)

What a legendary team Pak had at that time - full of class - Majid, Sadiq, Zaheer and Mushtaq at the top and Asit, Miandad and Imran to follow.

Later followed by Wasim Raja, Mudassar, Mohsin, Rameez, Salim Malik in the batting and in the bowling by Abdul Qadir, Iqbal Qasim and the two W's. Pure natural talent and flair.

shanazbhat1 - It doesn't matter. Cricket is not a place of hatred. We (cricket playing nations) are just a handful. Just enjoy the game and all the legends.

Posted by   on (December 18, 2011, 6:33 GMT)

Simply awesome sketch! And a reason of struggle and motivation.

Posted by khiladisher on (December 18, 2011, 4:38 GMT)

PAKISTAN COULD NOT DEFEAT INDIA IN 1989IN PAKISTAN AND ALSO IN 1999 IN INDIA IN SPITE OF HAVING GREAT BOWLING ATTACKS-THE 89 SERIES WHICH WAS OF 4 TEST MATCHES ENDED 0-0-AND THE 1999 SERIES IN INDIA WHICH PAKISTAN WAS HEAVILY FAVORED TO WIN ENDED 1-1 WITH THE LAST MATCH PLAYED IN KOLKATA WAS PLAYED NOT AS APART OF THE SERIES BUT THE 1ST MATCH OF THE NOW WITHDRAWN -ASIAN TEST CHAMPIONSHIP-PAKISTAN WAS UNLUCKY NOT TO WIN THESE 2 SERIES AGAINST INDIA ONLY BECAUSE THE INDIAN BATTING LINE-UP OF THOSE TIMES WERE MORE THAN MATCH FOR PAKISTAN BOWLING GREATS.LOOKING AT THE RECORDS THE INDIAN BATTING LINE-UP OF TODAY WOULD HAVE MADE IMRAN-WASEEM-WAQAR-SHOIB-JAVED-SAQLAIN AND MUSHY TOIL ALL DAY WITHOUT GETTING THEIR WICKETS.THE CRICINFO STATS ALSO SHOW 1999 SERIES AS 1-1 DRAW.

Posted by   on (December 18, 2011, 3:19 GMT)

@shanazbhat1 India is dust? They have won 3 world cups. Tendulkar rules. Dhoni is a better captain than the legendary Imran Khan

Posted by Gizza on (December 18, 2011, 1:29 GMT)

I think Pakistan recently moved into the top 3 spot for all time win-loss ratio in Tests. I'm pretty sure the West Indies was No. 1 or 2 until their massive drop recently and even then I think it was only maybe 5 years ago when their ratio finally became less than 1. Still it is very impressive from Pakistan mainly due to their amazing crop of fast and reverse swinging bowlers started off by Imran Khan.

Posted by   on (December 18, 2011, 0:36 GMT)

....... Legendary! ......

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 21:34 GMT)

Imran re-define the term 'fast bowling'

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 19:57 GMT)

Alex Farooque: He meant a FAST bowler, not a medium-pacer like Fazal Mahmood. There had never been a genuine 90+ mph fast bowler from the subcontinent before Imran Khan and I can imagine that the cricketing world probably assumed it a biological fact that there would never be one, what the author is saying is that at Sydney Imran Khan started the Pakistani dynasty of genuine fast bowlers like Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib, all who could bowl over 90 mph that came after

Posted by keptalittlelow on (December 17, 2011, 19:42 GMT)

We all know Pakistan has the third-best cumulative win-loss ratio in Test history, behind Australia and England, except those who dont want to know it. I regret to say there have been concerted efforts to undermine Pakistan's achievements, dont go far, when Wasim and Waqar's reverse swing caused too many defeats to England, the term 'ball tempering' was manufactured. When England learnt the skill of reverse swing, it became a great art.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 19:04 GMT)

It also unearthed for them an authentic fast bowler, a necessity for any great team, and which up to that point had seemed biologically implausible from the subcontinent. What do you mean? Fazal Mahmood, does the name ring any bell?

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 18:12 GMT)

great article ..keep up your good work

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 18:01 GMT)

feel realy great to read this.....ya thanks to those guys...their hardwork grew people interest and found great talent in cricket......WASIM,WAQAR,INZMAM,YOUSAF,S.ANWAR,SAQLAIN,MUSHTAQ,AFRIDI,AKHTAR,MALIK,RAZZAQ,YOUNIS,AMEER......ALL GREAT TALENTS wan see PAK cricket at peak love to see new and unique talent shining in ground with PAK cap on head.....

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 17:35 GMT)

Awsome---ArticLE.................

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 17:13 GMT)

A great read. Thanks, was not aware of this history-making match

Posted by shanazbhat1 on (December 17, 2011, 16:51 GMT)

great article======INDIANS --read all time top 3=aus..eng..pak--rest DUST

Posted by shanazbhat1 on (December 17, 2011, 16:44 GMT)

great article ==last few lines for all those who think india is ahead of pak on all time records======all time top 3 austrailia ,,england,,pakistan rest is dust

Posted by Bilal_Choudry on (December 17, 2011, 16:29 GMT)

it would be great if someone can find a clip from this series and post it

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 16:12 GMT)

Very Nice great for those love the game and Pakistan nice to read that we are ahead of india :) That is why every one respects Imran Khan in Pakistan certainly elevate Pakistan cricket agression lacks in today's Pakistan cricket :) Log live Pakistan!!!!

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 15:44 GMT)

It was a memorable match for fans of that generation and it brought the elusive self-belief both in the cricketers and their fans. I have not checked the scorecard but the recollection is of Imran and Sarfraz almost bowling through the entire match with barely a break or two by 'filler' bowlers, which was amazing given Sarfraz's reputaion for breaking down and the strength and effort that must have gone into Imran's bowling at hitherto unexplored pace. I think perhaps not enough credit has been given to Mushtaq Mohammed in binding and motivating the team despite himself having a very thin time of it all as a batsman and bowler on that tour and following the political shenanigans at the Board level. Prior to that, years of timid displays under Intikhab Alam had driven the fans to despair when one winning opportunity after another was squandered through inept batting, primarily through not having self-belief and leadership. Wonderful article.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 14:03 GMT)

Ah excellent piece! My dad swells with pride every time he tells me about this series, but never before did I visualize the accomplishment of them legends the way I did right now with your article. Brilliant writing :)

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 11:28 GMT)

A nostalgia like the one aforementioned compels us to agree with Imran khan's philosophy of 60% mental shares in the game. The team we had after the 92 world cup was also full of cricketing stalwarts but something lacking was the one Imran is talking about. I even sometime think that many minors like the official kit for the team matters too in building the confidence against the opponent.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 11:15 GMT)

What an amazing read. The last few lines gave me goosebumps. "It is after Sydney in 1977 that it starts sloping upwards - a trend that has continued into modern times, giving Pakistan the third-best cumulative win-loss ratio in Test history, behind Australia and England. "

Wow. I've always loved Tests more than any other format. Reading articles like these reinforces my love for the game. Thank you.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 11:08 GMT)

Imran Khan is the greatest !

Posted by aqua_omer on (December 17, 2011, 10:37 GMT)

Pakistan should have won the sydney test in 1973 as well when Intikhab was captian but they ended up losing in the same way as Mohammad Yousif team did in 2009 even after having a big lead, similarity timid captaincy and no self belief....however Mushtaq Mohammad brought a new dimension in Pakistan's cricket, a home series win against NZ, a draw in NZ and Aus, winning comprehensivelt against India in 1978 and they even challenged WI though the end result was 3-1 ( could easily have been 2-2)..

Very righlty said that Int cricket is as much abt mental toughness and physical and Pak at times have lacked though never when the great Imran was around!

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 10:14 GMT)

Good one Saad Sb, certainly something for us who are from Wasim and Waqar eras and would remember those times only.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 9:39 GMT)

NICE TO READ ABOUT A GLORIOUS PAST...

Posted by getsetgopk on (December 17, 2011, 9:28 GMT)

Third best in test and 2nd best in ODI cricket after Australia with 411 victories no wonder it was pakistan that beat the mighty Australians in 1999 WC and it was Pakistan again who beat them in 2011 to end their 34 unbeaten WC run, in all a facinating article bringing back memories of era full controveries, struggles and the passion to prove themselves, a glimphse of sarfraz nawaz and the rise of the Khan a gem of an article.

Posted by harshthakor on (December 17, 2011, 9:10 GMT)

The win was one of Pakistan Cricket's most defining moments.Earlier Pakistan had immense talent but were unable t o perform like a cohesive unit.Imran bowled with the heart of a lion and gave birth to his career as one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time.His 12 wicket haul was one of the most emotional moments in my lifetime..For the first time Pakistan had done justice to their talent after having come so close to toppling England in 1971 and Australia in 1972-73 on their home soil.Pakistan possessed the greatest batting depth of any team in the world with the likes of Majid,Zaheer,Miandad,Asif Iqbal and Imran Khan.Now Pakistan contested the spot for the best team in the world with West Indies and Australia.

Sadly from 1979-80 Pakistan cricket had a major reverse after the defeat in India which caused an irreparable setback.Again it was the mighty Imran Khan who led the revival in 1982-83 and in 1987-88 when Pakistan almost won the world test championship title.

Posted by umairasgharbutt on (December 17, 2011, 8:52 GMT)

Golden time of Pak cricket !

Posted by mmrrr27 on (December 17, 2011, 8:23 GMT)

I feel that Pakistan team is on the up again and hopefully it can reduce the difference in test win/loss ratios between itself and Australia/England.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 7:58 GMT)

Who can forget imrans torn shirt and majid hooking lillee for 6 after promising to do so! We missed school to watch this in the morning.

Posted by Emancipator007 on (December 17, 2011, 7:58 GMT)

Saad has eloquently and superbly captured the flow and ebb of tough-as-nails Test cricket which is almost akin to "war" between 2 highly competitive sides with stellar players. You could almost feel the intensity of Iqbal's and that ultimate street-fighter Miandad's jousts with the OZ bowlers. Has anyone also noticed how much Pak EXTREME pace has bothered Aus batsmen right thru since then? (cue lone ranger Akthar in 2002). Such enthralling, see-sawing Tests were fought b/w Ganguly and Waugh's teams in 2001, 3 Test b/w India-Pak in 1999 (including Asian Test championship), Tied Test series b/w OZ-WI in 1961, 1988 Series b/w Pak-WI in WI (Imran-Javed at the forefront again in the most riveting Test series of the 80s) and the raging Test tussles b/w Cronje and Taylor/Border's teams in mid-90s. Test cricket zindabad.

Posted by AmeerAhmad on (December 17, 2011, 7:48 GMT)

wow what an amazing article. . am just 22 now but it makes me to think what atmosphere it would have been in PAKISTAN on that 1977 morning

Posted by thecricketlover on (December 17, 2011, 7:41 GMT)

Yes you are right Aus Eng and Pak have best in the test history so for. And Sydney test was the catalyst no doubt. May be SA and India will be the next but the history tells that Aus, Eng and Pak are dominated the format in respective order.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 7:21 GMT)

This was the famous test where Imran lost his sleeves, they tore due to the velocity of his spell.

Posted by donda on (December 17, 2011, 7:02 GMT)

Salute to Imran khan for opening the doors for pakistani fast bowlers to become legends. Even Wasim akram is among the greatest of all time and best left arm bowler ever only because of Imran greatness. Australia is the only team whom every body want to beat because they are greatest team of all time. If you want to become a great cricketing nation then you have to beat aussies at their home , this example is for Bangladesh.

Definately Imran performance on that day really started the fast bowling greatness in Pakistan. He is poineer of fast bowling in Pakistan.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 6:33 GMT)

Brilliant..some old memories..

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 6:28 GMT)

Beautiful article. A reminder of how great teams need lethal quick bowlers to win Test matches. Tellingly, the graph of Pakistan's win's also follows their fast bowling strength: The wins of the 50's on the backs of Fazal Mahmood and Khan Mohammad and the 80's onwards with Imran, Sarfraz, Wasim, Waqar et all.

Posted by harshthakor on (December 17, 2011, 6:20 GMT)

Overall,a great achievement by Pak to draw a series against the best team in the World.Arguably Pakistan cricket's best achievement ever.I wish it was a complete 5 test series.Then it truly would have been an absorbing contest.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 6:17 GMT)

The birth of Imran Khan, the legend.....

Posted by harshthakor on (December 17, 2011, 6:17 GMT)

A turning point in the history of Pakistani cricket which will l be remembered for ever in the annals of their country's history.Mushtaq Muhammad must take credit for converting a bunch of talented individuals into a fighting ,world-class unit.For many years,Pakistan were denied big victories ,as in England and Australia when they came so near but yet so far.This time spearheaded by Imran Khan they operated as a cohesive unit and drew a series against the World's best team.Now Pakistan were on par with Australia and West Indies .On the previous tour in 1972-73 of Australia they almost won the last 2 test matches which would have given them a 2-1 victory.I can't forget Asif Iqbal's great knock of 120.Pakistan had the best batting line up in the world.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2011, 5:30 GMT)

YES, U always need the fast bowlers to win the test matches. In sub-continent only Pakistan produced the good fast bowlers, thus they have a better win-loss ratio among the Asian countries. Likes of Zaheer Khan and Chaminda Vaas are exceptions but no other Asian country produced Imrans, Waseems, Waqars and Akhtars.

Posted by LeftBrain on (December 17, 2011, 4:11 GMT)

Great article Saad, so nicely written, very absorbing. That team under Mushtaq was really the stepping stone of what Pakistan team is now, and surely emergence of Imran started the continuous supply chain of great fast bowlers, really enjoyed reading this well written article

Posted by rawcrickettalent on (December 17, 2011, 3:40 GMT)

great great article ...truly the rise of Imran was what changed Pakistan Cricket!!!

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