It was a dream match-up: the mighty West Indies, at the height of their powers, pitted against Imran Khan's powerful Pakistan side in a three-match series early in 1988. Pakistan almost made history, going into the final Test in Barbados one up, but fell agonisingly short, foiled as much by the West Indian tail as by the umpires, one of whom later admitted that fear of what the locals might do to him played a part in some of the decisions. The series remains one of the most exciting ever played:
To Barbados, to decide
Rameez Raja Though we lost the ODI series 0-5, we had matched them in all the games, which were high-scoring ones. There was no mental block just because we were playing the mighty West Indies on their home soil. We kept telling ourselves that we were the best, and the results backed us up going into the last Test. You could tell that Viv Richards was feeling the pinch, since he hadn't till then lost a series at home as captain. The victory in the first Test at Georgetown was very important. Imran was the key there, with the reverse-swing he got on a flat wicket. We were very happy that he had come back for this tour from injury. We had got used to his captaincy, and for a tough tour like this one we needed a tough captain like him. He, Wasim Akram and Abdul Qadir exerted a lot of pressure on the opposition. The batting clicked at Georgetown too: it was a good team effort. The second Test went to the wire as well. We needed 80-odd off some 20 overs with Javed Miandad still there. But once Ijaz Ahmed and Javed fell in quick succession, we were fighting for a draw, and Qadir did well to survive the last over.
Richie Richardson It didn't surprise me when we lost in the first Test. You had two good teams competing, and if one doesn't play too well then the other comes up trumps. We missed the services of Viv and Malcolm Marshall in Guyana - both of them were recovering from injuries. Sometimes when the best don't play, others raise their game to a higher level, but that didn't happen for us in the first Test.
How the cookie crumbled
Rameez They had threatened to prepare a greentop all through, and when we arrived at the Kensington Oval, it was a greentop. We batted first. Straightaway Malcolm Marshall shot two bouncers across my head. We had a 1-0 lead in the series but were in no mood to be defensive, and both Shoaib Mohammad and I played our shots. We lost our way a bit in the middle but still finished with a good score of 309. West Indies were cruising along well until Mudassar Nazar got Desmond Haynes and Gus Logie off successive balls. Richards made a fifty and then there was a good ninth-wicket stand between Marshall and Winston Benjamin which brought them to within three runs of our total. We were six wickets down for 170-odd at the end of the third day. On the fourth morning Imran and Saleem Yousuf, who had broken his nose in the first innings when he tried to hook a Marshall bouncer, did a repair job and we set them a target of 266 runs.
Abdul Qadir West Indies were desperate for a win in Barbados. But at the end of the fourth day they still had a long way to go with over 100 needed and only Richards and Jeff Dujon of the recognised batsmen remaining. Imran hardly bowled in that second innings and split the task between Wasim and myself. On the penultimate evening I got Richardson stumped and Logie bowled to turn the tide in our favour. The next morning, after Wasim had got rid of Curtly Ambrose and the danger man, Richards, I had Marshall plumb lbw on the back foot to a flipper, but the umpire turned down the appeal. Wasim accounted for Marshall soon enough, which left us needing only to check Dujon, who was trying to build a partnership with Benjamin. We would have been successful if it was not for the poor umpiring that spoilt our chances in the end.
Winston Benjamin Our batsmen weren't applying themselves properly; we were just going out there. The Pakistan attack was a formidable one with Imran, Wasim, and Qadir, and our batsmen didn't show that they could handle them convincingly.
So there was pressure, but it didn't freeze me. I always believed that one has to come good at some point, and for me this match was where that happened. It was the highlight of my career.
From 207 for 8 to the moon
Benjamin When I walked in, I wasn't thinking about the game and the crucial stage it was at. I just knew that I had to go and play my cricket. I am going to be positive, I told myself, and if the ball is there to be hit, I'm going to do just that. Dujon was the senior partner and he needed to take the lead, but he acted like a nervous wreck that day. The instruction to me was to give the strike to him, but he was totally out of sorts. I scored the majority of the runs in that ninth-wicket unbeaten partnership of 67. The winning shot I scored was the most exciting one for me. I heard the keeper repeatedly calling out to Qadir: "Come on, legbreak, googly, flipper." So I started repeating it to myself, in that order. And the winning four that I hit, I had guessed correctly that the ball would be a googly. I hit it straight back down the ground to the far end. Maybe if Qadir had changed his sequence, I would have ended up looking like a clown. Luckily, I emerged the winner.
Trumped by the ump
Rameez The umpiring was very negative in favour of the home team. That left a mark on an exciting series. The cricket was hot and punchy and that spilled over sometimes. Qadir was a victim of some bad decisions when we were bowling in the second innings and it was difficult for him to keep a lid on his emotions.
Qadir The umpiring was exposed when a bat-pad catch was rejected early in Dujon's innings, even though there had been a big sound of the ball hitting the bat. Also, I thought that, towards the end of the match, the umpire was no-balling me unnecessarily, allowing Benjamin to go for big shots. There was a lot happening out in the middle, and the crowd got into the act too. There was this fan who had been heckling me as I fielded at the square-leg boundary. I was furious with the umpiring errors, and when this guy started accusing my country, shouting, "Paki cheater, Paki cheater," I couldn't control myself anymore, and I walked into the stands and had a fight with him. Luckily I was let off after an out-of-court settlement, but I learned my lesson: that one should respect the law of the land.
Benjamin Umpires do make mistakes, and I thought Pakistan were a bit unlucky not to have got the benefit of that Dujon bat-and-pad catch off Qadir, and we got the benefit of doubt.