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Pakistan and India, who had confronted each other twice on battlefields since they last played a Test match, resumed cricket contact after almost eighteen years when India undertook an eight-weeks tour of Pakistan which included three Test Matches. Pakistan, distinctly the stronger side, won the second and third Tests. The first was drawn.
The warmth and enthusiasm with which the Indians were received, plus the cordial relations between the players, made it plain enough that the renewal of cricketing rivalry between the two neighbouring countries was long overdue. Indeed, cricket authorities on both sides of the border are eager to make up for the lost years. Future plans include not only a more frequent exchange of tours at Test level, but also a constant two-way traffic of club and colts sides. In fact, a Pakistan Under 19 side went to India immediately after the Indian Test team returned home.
It would be hypocritical to say that the tour and the Test series were totally free of incidents and controversy. But there was no more tension and friction than is usual these days in Test matches between any two countries.
However, the tour would have been happier without the notorious Sahiwal incident, on the occasion of the last of three one-day internationals. As the Indians, with plenty of wickets in hand, approached their target, Sarfraz Nawaz indulged in an excess of bumpers which were obviously out of the batsmen's reach. There was no intervention from the umpires and Bedi, the Indian captain, conceded the match in protest. His action raised controversies both in Pakistan and at home.
The significant feature - and a very happy one - of the Test series was the positive approach of both sides, in bold contrast to the attitudes struck in past series between the two countries. Their two previous rubbers, involving ten Test matches, were all drawn. Pakistani pitches being what they are, the stalemate could well have continued, and had all three Test matches been drawn, the captains and players would have been blameless. Decisive results were obtained only because of the fragility of the Indian batting.
With all their Packer players recalled to the colours, Pakistan were a formidable batting side. Majid Khan, having played little or no competitive cricket since leaving Glamorgan, was not always at his best; but the only failure as such among Pakistan's front-line batsmen was Sadiq Mohammad. The dominant figure was Zaheer Abbas, who amassed 583 runs in five innings, averaging 194.33. The manner in which he scored his runs was even more impressive than their aggregate. Next in Pakistan's honours' list was Javed Miandad, who made two hundreds, besides an exhilarating 62 during the hectic run-chase on the final day of the third Test. Mushtaq Mohammad and Asif Iqbal both indicated that they could have scored many more runs had the need arisen.
As with most modern captains, Mushtaq relies mainly on his pace bowlers, and despite the heat and the depressing pace of the pitches, Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz responded magnificently, capturing fourteen and seventeen wickets respectively. The only pitch that gave them any encouragement was at Lahore, where more grass was left on it than usual. Putting the Indians in, Pakistan bowled them out for 199. Sarfraz was forever probing the batsmen's weaknesses, and although Imran had complained of back trouble before the first Test, he went flat out at every call. Pakistan's catching did not match their agile ground fielding, but, despite advancing years, wicket-keeper Wasim Bari was as brilliant and acrobatic as ever.
The Indian batting did not live up to the reputation and standards established in Australia a year earlier. Morale gradually declined in the face of a surfeit of short-pitched bowling. Head and shoulders above everyone else was Gavaskar, with scores of 89, 8 not out, 5, 97, 111, and 137. The two three-figure innings were registered in the final Test. The contribution of Viswanath, the only other batsman of class in the side, was limited to two sizeable scores in five innings. Moreover, it was an indiscreet shot by him, fifteen minutes before lunch on the last day, that led to India's collapse and defeat in the second Test. His eclipse left India totally vulnerable in the last Test.
Not once in the entire series did India bowl out Pakistan. The striking rate of their bowlers was one wicket every 66 runs. The might of Pakistan's batting emphasised the fact that India's celebrated spinners were over the hill. The Indian attack looked absolutely forlorn when Pakistan were chasing runs against the clock in the Lahore and Karachi Tests. In the second instance, Pakistan's target was as high as 164 runs in thirty-five minutes and a minimum of twenty overs. Another factor that contributed to Pakistan scoring freely and running up high totals was the immobility of many of India's fieldsmen. And in addition, Kirmani had a disastrous tour, both with gloves and bat.
India's one consolation was the emergence of nineteen-year-old Kapil Dev as an all-rounder of considerable worth. A clean and hefty striker of the ball, he made some useful runs in the lower order, and also showed promise of developing into an excellent fast-medium bowler.
Test Matches- Played 3: Lost 2, Drawn 1.
First-class matches- Played 9: Won 2, Lost 2, Drawn 5.
Wins- Pakistan Universities and Youth XI, Punjab.
Losses - Pakistan (2).
Draws- Pakistan, Pakistan Banks, NWFP-Baluchistan, Patron's XI, Sind.
One-day internationals - Played 3: Won 1, Lost 1, Drawn 1.
Match reports for