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Pakistan's second tour of the West Indies, eighteen years after the first, produced an intensely interesting series between two evenly-matched teams. Each of the five Tests had its particular merit, the West Indies comfortably winning the last to secure a narrow two-one advantage in the rubber.
The West Indies' main strength lay in testing fast bowling, as it had done the previous summer against England. On this occasion, however, two of the architects of the triumph over England, Holding and Daniel, could take no part in the series because of injury and their replacements, Croft and Garner, were the ones who consistently placed their team in favourable positions.
Young, tall and strongly built, Croft and Garner had been virtual nonentities before the start of the 1977 West Indian season. Yet Croft, a Guyanese who had played only one first-class match until then, bowled with such speed and hostility that he took 33 wickets in the series, a record for a West Indian bowler in a home rubber and equalling Valentine's overall mark set in 1950 in England.
Garner, somewhat slower in pace, used his height (6 feet, 8 inches) to best advantage to take 25 wickets. Although the experienced Roberts often appeared tired, he still bowled more overs than any other West Indian and his value could not be underestimated.
Pakistan's outstanding performers were the batsmen Majid Khan and Wasim Raja and the fast-medium bowlers, Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz. Majid enhanced his already sizeable reputation by averaging 53 in the Tests and his 167 in the third Test proved a match-saving effort.
Raja, a dashing left-hander, was never overawed, not even by the most critical situation. He was top-scorer in half his team's ten innings and the fact that he hit no fewer than fourteen sixes in the Tests was indicative of his carefree, yet effective attitude. In addition, he gained some important wickets with his leg-spin.
Imran and Sarfraz shouldered the burden of carrying their team's attack courageously and their bowling on the final day very nearly gained victory in the first Test which the West Indies saved with their last pair together.
As did Majid for Pakistan, the West Indies opening batsmen, Fredericks and Greenidge, both passed 500 runs in the series. The former's century in the second Test consolidated a winning position for his team which had been laid by Croft's spell of eight for 29 on the first day.
Greenidge, in his first Test appearance in the Caribbean, showed far more maturity than he had done in previous years and he played with increasing conviction.
Generally speaking, the middle order batting on both sides fell well short of expectations. For the West Indies, Richards endured lean times after his phenomenal exploits of the previous year, Kallicharran appeared hampered by the after effects of a shoulder operation and Lloyd played only one innings of note.
I. T. Shillingford, the 32-year-old Dominican, won his place in the Test team at long last and scored a disciplined century at Georgetown, but subsequent loss of form cost him his place.
For Pakistan, the experienced Mohammad brothers, Mushtaq and Sadiq, Zaheer Abbas and Asif Iqbal were all below their best and it was the newcomer, Haroon Rashid, who caught the eye. The teenaged Javed Miandad, who had announced himself to the cricket world in spectacular fashion a few months earlier against New Zealand, hardly scored a run.
If Mushtaq contributed little else, he had consolation of being largely responsible for his team's only Test victory, scoring 121 and 56 and taking five for 28 and three for 69 with his leg-spin in the fourth at Port-of-Spain when the West Indies collapsed in both innings.
An uncompromising captain, Mushtaq did not endear himself to his hosts with outspoken criticism of umpiring and a charge that Garner's action was occasionally illegal.
Even so, the Pakistanis proved attractive fare for Caribbean crowds which turned out in large numbers to watch them wherever they played.
Colonel Shuja-ud-Din was the popular and efficient Pakistan team manager.
Test Matches -- Played 5: Won 1, Lost 2, Drawn 2.
All First-class Matches -- Played 12: Won 4, Lost 3, Drawn 5.
Also lost one-day International to West Indies.
Wins -- West Indies (1), Trinidad, Windward Islands, Jamaica.
Losses -- West Indies (2), President's XI.
Draws -- West Indies (2), Leeward Islands, Barbados, Guyana.
Match reports for
1st Test: West Indies v Pakistan at Bridgetown, Feb 18-23, 1977
2nd Test: West Indies v Pakistan at Port of Spain, Mar 4-9, 1977
Only ODI: West Indies v Pakistan at Albion, Mar 16, 1977
3rd Test: West Indies v Pakistan at Georgetown, Mar 18-23, 1977
4th Test: West Indies v Pakistan at Port of Spain, Apr 1-6, 1977
5th Test: West Indies v Pakistan at Kingston, Apr 15-20, 1977
Match reports for
1st Test: Australia v Pakistan at Adelaide, Dec 24-29, 1976
2nd Test: Australia v Pakistan at Melbourne, Jan 1-6, 1977
3rd Test: Australia v Pakistan at Sydney, Jan 14-18, 1977