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Toss: England. Test debut: Pakistan - Rashid Latif.
A game billed as The Showdown Test became instead a perfect showcase for the awesome fast bowling talents of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Pakistan won 15 minutes before lunch on the fourth day, a more comprehensive victory than even they could have dared hope for - and the crowning triumph of the summer for their captain Javed Miandad. At last, Miandad was captain in his own right - the unchallenged leader of a young, multi-talented team that no longer needed, or wanted, the paternal and patrician guidance of Imran Khan. Fittingly, too, Imran's record of 21 wickets in a series for Pakistan in England was equalled by Wasim and broken by Waqar, who claimed one more. Their combined total of 43 wickets was the main reason why Pakistan won their fourth successive series against England; at The Oval their haul of 15 left the home nation shattered and outclassed.
England's selectors recalled Malcolm and Tufnell, who had recovered form his appendix operation, and, for the time being, abandoned the attempt to persevere with Hick. Pakistan dropped Inzamam-Ul-Haq, another promising young batsman who had disappointed at Test level, to give Shoaib Mohammad his first Test of the series, and unexpectedly replaced wicket-keeper Moin Khan with Rashid Latif. Another man making his first appearance of the series was umpire Dickie Bird, believed to inspire more confidence than most among the tourists.
Gooch won an important toss in conditions near-perfect for batting and for much of the opening day England's battle-plan went smoothly, even through Gooch himself and Stewart fell in the first session, after a flying start against the new ball. Stewart had asked to combine the opener's job with keeping wicket again, although in the event a blow to his foot meant that Smith had to stand in for him behind the stumps on the first evening. England were 40 minutes into the final session, on 182 for three, when Aqib Javed knocked out the first brick and then left Wasim to push over the whole structure. Gower's innings ended with a bottom-edged square cut into his stumps; Wasim, with a little help from Waqar, then took just 45 minutes more to rout England's lower order with a thrilling spell of five for 18 in 7.1 overs. Ramprakash was lbw pushing forward to an in-swinging full toss, while the tail was blown away by a succession of near-unplayable in-swinging yorkers. Atherton, after batting with great determination, was eighth out, edging Waqar to the keeper after nearly four and a half hours.
Pakistan's top order then set about the business of building a match-winning lead, with five of the first six threatening but ultimately failing to play a major innings. Aamir Sohail, the double-centurion of Old Trafford, struck 10 fours in his 49, while Salim Malik's 40 took his tally to 488 and made him the most prolific scorer for either side in an England- Pakistan series, surpassing D. C. S. Compton's 453 in 1954. He was bowled early on Saturday morning by a beauty from Malcolm, who went on to take five for 94 in a big-hearted display which justified his latest recall to arms. But while Malcolm was putting in a determined bid for a place on the winter tour to India, Test cricket's latest newcomer was announcing himself with a rare flourish. Latif, until now most familiar as a substitute fielder, came in unhelmeted with Pakistan's lead only 85 and proceeded - in just his fifth first-class innings of the entire tour - to play with the uninhibited joy and the effortless timing of a natural batsman. His 87-ball 50 featured six fours before he was last out aiming another blow.
Latif's vital contribution left England 173 behind and facing a long struggle to save the match, but Waqar, bowling with great pace and spirit, hungrily lapped up the cream of their batting. By tea he had single-handedly reduced them to 55 for three, and it was 59 for four when Gower shouldered arms to one that came back off the seam and took his off stump. The contest was effectively over. Ramprakash, desperate to improve a depressing Test record, made 17 in promising style before he was unluckily adjudged to have touched with a glove a ball from Mushtaq Ahmed that ballooned to short leg off his pad. Smith and Lewis ensured the match lasted into the fourth day, but Sunday morning brought just a final exhibition of Wasim and Waqar's ability to brush aside a tail. Smith's brave unbeaten 84, in four hours and from 179 balls, took him out of a poor run and represented a personal triumph against the leg-spin and googlies of Mushtaq which had mystified him all summer. Thanks to Smith, Pakistan were at least required to bat again. But a wide from Ramprakash and a square-cut boundary next ball from Sohail were sufficient to send into raptures the hundreds of Pakistani fans who gathered in front of the pavilion to salute their heroes. The only sour note for Pakistan came after their triumph, when the media indulged in more speculation about ball-tampering. This time the reports were sparked off by England manager Micky Stewart, who said he knew how the Pakistani bowlers managed to swing an old ball more than the new one - but was not prepared to reveal the secret.
Man of the Match: Wasim Akram.
Attendance: 59,947; receipts £1,010,526.
Men of the Series: England- G. A. Gooch; Pakistan- Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.
Close of play: First day, Pakistan 16-0 ( Aamir Sohail 9*, Ramiz Raja 7*); Second day, Pakistan 275-4 ( Salim Malik 38*, Asif Mujtaba 31*); Third day, England 137-5 ( R. A. Smith 59*, C. C. Lewis 8*).