Gatting and Botham stoically withstood Pakistan's push for victory on the final day to bring England belated solace in a summer of diminishing returns. Their four and a quarter hours' diligence pegged Pakistan to a 1-0 win in the series, their first series victory in England.
To overturn such a proficient side, England needed to bat first on a sound, somewhat slowish pitch. But Imran called correctly for the first time in four Tests, and by lunch on the second day his batsmen had ensured England's third successive defeat in a home series. By tea on the third, England were engaged in a formidable rearguard action; by the close of play on the fourth, and already following on, they were still 381 runs behind with seven wickets in hand.
England replaced Athey, after a run of fourteen Tests, with Moxon and again omitted Radford to accommodate both spinners. Pakistan recalled Ramiz Raja and Tauseef Ahmed after injury and left out Shoaib Mohammad and Mohsin Kamal for the first time in the series. When Botham and Dilley removed Ramiz and Mansoor in the first 50 minutes, there seemed no possible scenario for Pakistan to compile a record score. However, Miandad undermined England's bid to square the series by first completing an overdue maiden Test century against them and then progressing to his fourth double-hundred in Tests, the seventh batsman to achieve this distinction. Having survived the most difficult of chances to Foster at long leg when 9, Miandad passed 6,000 runs in Tests on the first day, when the measured Mudassar and the more flamboyant Malik accompanied him to his fifteenth Test hundred, made from 197 balls. England were hampered by injuries to Dilley (ankle) and Foster (strained side) and had to forego Foster's services for the remainder of the innings.
Imaginative strokeplay sent Malik darting from 64 to the 90s early on the second day as he moved impressively to his sixth Test hundred - the first outside his homeland. Out soon afterwards, in almost four and a half hours he had faced 237 balls, hit only six fours and added 234 awith Miandad, a record for Pakistan's fourth wicket against England. Next Imran, who insisted this was to be his last Test, registered his first hundred against England, racing from 57 to three figures while Miandad remained runless. Miandad, by now, had tired, despite his intention of attacking Sobers's Test record of 365 not out, and after ten hours seventeen minutes, during which he faced 521 balls and hit a six and 28 fours, he tapped back a return catch to Dilley. Good work by Radford and Botham ended Imran's innings as he went for a fourth run on the stroke from Ijaz which brought up the 600. He had batted for four and a quarter hours, hitting one six and eleven fours.
On the third morning, Ijaz and Yousuf continued their partnership to 89, a record for Pakistan's seventh wicket against England, and Dilley picked up late wickets to return six for 154, his best bowling analysis in Test cricket. Because of the worsening light, Imran had had to abandon any notion of declaring and so the innings ran its mammoth course. Pakistan's 708, in 13 hours 40 minutes, was their highest total, surpassing their 674 for six against India in Faisalabad in 1984-85; it was also the sixth largest in any Test match and the second highest conceded by England. The 217 runs conceded by Botham, from 52 overs, were the most by an England bowler, passing the 204 by I. A. R. Peebles, from 71 overs, against Australia, also at The Oval, in 1930.
England's position worsened when Broad was caught behind off Imran's fourth ball, and the miserable canvas soon portrayed 78 for four before Gatting, with a sturdy half-century, and Botham saw them to Saturday's close without further loss. For England to survive, either of these two had to bat throughout the fourth day. But soon Qadir's bouncy legspin began to have its effect. Only Emburey withstood to any extent, hitting a six and six fours as Qadir brought England to their knees with his best Test figures of seven for 96, including a spell of three for 13 in 37 balls.
Following on, 476 runs behind, England contemplated the humiliation of losing by a bigger margin than any previous England defeat. And that ignominy took on a realistic look when they lost Moxon, Robinson and Gower. On the final day, however, when Pakistan were without Wasim Akram, in hospital for an appendix operation, the wicket of Broad was their only setback. Gatting reached his ninth Test hundred, the fifth in his last fourteen matches and although giving chances of varying degrees of difficulty at 5, 23, 58, 60 and 107 he batted for five and threequarter hours in all, hitting 21 fours in his unbeaten 150. Botham, batting with immense responsibility, denied the attacking principles on which his game had been founded for ten years by refusing to commit the slightest indiscretion. He joined the fight 45 minutes before lunch and stayed with his captain until the grim, necessary job was completed at 5.25 p.m.
Man of the Match: Javed Miandad. Attendance: 52,104; receipts £500,399.
Close of play: First day, Pakistan 297-3 (Javed Miandad 131*, Salim Malik 64*); Second day, Pakistan 616-6 (Ijaz Ahmed 22*, Salim Yousuf 6*); Third day, England 144-4 (M. W. Gatting 50*, I. T. Botham 23*); Fourth day, England 95-3 (B. C. Broad 26*, M. W. Gatting 5*).