First Test Match


At Iqbal Park, Faisalabad, October 16, 17, 18, 20, 21. Drawn. The over-prepared pitch was too slow and true to provide a finish to the first Test match ever to be played at the Iqbal Park stadium. This latest draw was the thirteenth in consecutive Tests between the two countries.

As in the three earlier series between Pakistan and India, the last of which was staged eighteen years previously, Pakistan were luckier with the toss than their rivals. The pitch was bland and easy from the very start and Pakistan, batting until tea on the second day, declared with a gigantic total of 503 for eight, their highest ever against India. It included a sparkling 176 by Zaheer Abbas and a patient, but far from staid, 154 not out by Miandad.

Pakistan had lost their first three wickets, those of Majid Khan, Sadiq Mohammad and Mushtaq Mohammad, in a short span - while they progressed from 84 to 110 - and on the second morning Asif Iqbal fell without scoring. But there was so much depth to their batting that Pakistan were never deflected far from their course to a big score.

Zaheer Abbas took three hours twenty minutes to reach his century, which he did in the midst of a fiery onslaught against the second new ball, and in all he batted five and a quarter hours, hitting two 6s and 24 4s. He drove with grace and exact placement on the off side and pulled violently against anything even remotely short of a length. Miandad, normally an ebullient or even impetuous batsman, played with judgement and restraint on this occasion and batted for more than seven hours. He hit three 6s and thirteen 4s. Together, Zaheer and Miandad put on 255 for the fourth wicket, the highest partnership for any wicket for either side in Test matches against each other.

Faced with an enormous score, India could do no more than play for a draw. With a sequence of big partnerships, they had made their position quite secure before lunch on the fourth day - during a stand of 166 for the fourth wicket between Viswanath and Vengsarkar. The pillars of the Indian batting were their two leading batsmen, Gavaskar and Viswanath, the former laying the foundations with a characteristic innings of 89. These two put on 101 for the third wicket, and when Gavaskar went, Viswanath took charge and scored 145 (his highest Test score). In doing so he became the first Indian to score a century against every Test-playing country.

Considering the fund of runs at their disposal, Pakistan's tactics in the field were surprisingly defensive. There was an over-abundant use of the three faster bowlers, which kept the over-rate down to about twelve an hour, and it was not unusual for Imran and Sarfraz to bowl three short-pitched balls an over. Iqbal Qasim, the left-arm spinner, was not called on until the total had passed 200, and Mushtaq directed most of his bowling, delivered from round the wicket, outside the leg stump.

With the first innings taking the best part of four days to complete and only 41 runs separating the two sides, the second innings was a mere formality. Yet Zaheer came close to achieving the rare feat of scoring two separate hundreds in a Test match, and Asif made a sparkling century.

Although the match was played for the most part in good humour, there was an unsavoury incident late on the fourth day at the start of Pakistan's innings. During discussions that followed the warning by umpire Shakoor Rana of Mohinder Amarnath for following through into the proscribed area of the pitch, Gavaskar, the Indian vice-captain, used insulting language against the umpire concerned. Mr. Rana and his colleague refused to go out the next morning until action was taken, and play was delayed by eleven minutes while a compromise was reached.

© John Wisden & Co