A run of eleven successive draws between India and Pakistan was dramatically arrested by the quality, or rather lack of quality, of a Test match pitch designed to produce a result. In contrast to the languorous pace at which the first four Tests had been played, the final Test in Bangalore, a centre notorious in the previous decade for flat wickets, was enthralling throughout. After pitches which had blunted the edge of Pakistan's pace attack and provided nothing for spin bowlers against Indian batsmen so accustomed to such bowling, it seemed at times that the batsmen were now treading through a minefield. It was a test of nerve which India, despite having dominated many phases of the first four Tests and having bundled out Pakistan for next to nothing in the first innings, failed. Imran Khan realised Pakistan's and his own ambition to beat India in India; but as much a victory for Pakistan's superior tactical approach to such conditions, it was also a victory born of the despair of the administrators, who sought to break the deadlock brought about by the teams' inability to bowl each other out on any surface other than an under-prepared one.
India, unable to develop the advantages won in the Second and Fourth Tests, relied heavily on their batsmen to run up huge totals which would put pressure on Pakistan batsmen lacking experience of slow, turning wickets. But this the Pakistanis, not having agreed to a minimum number of overs in a day's play, could counter tactically. Furthermore, the sharp decline of Kapil Dev as a strike bowler forced India to base their attack on the left-arm spin of Maninder Singh. He had improved enormously in the course of a long season, but he could not clinch the issue for India after opening up a golden avenue with seven for 27 on the first day of the Fifth Test. Considering the odds against which Pakistan's victory came - few sides have gone on to win a Test match after so inauspicious a first innings - theirs was a remarkable triumph.
In the limited-overs series, Pakistan's superiority was beyond dispute. They had a number of utility players in their ranks, any one of whom could fashion a match-winning effort with the bat, and they won the series 5-1. Even that solitary win for India came in somewhat contentious circumstances. Kapil Dev was unlucky with the toss, losing five of them, but these defeats went beyond the favour of the spin of the coin.
The touring team were subjected to a harrowing time by the crowds in Ahmedabad and Bangalore, where any convenient missile was thrown at the Pakistani players. However, Imran's sporting approach to the niggling problems which occur on a tour of India helped keep matters from getting out of proportion, including those instances when his own colleagues were guilty of over-dramatisation on the field. Their orchestrated appealing, and various other practices designed to put the umpires under severe pressure, gave an unhappy aspect to their cricket. Truth to tell, there were more than a fair share of errors of judgement by umpires in the series, but it could not be said that India benefited exceptionally from them. Indeed, Pakistan got away with a considerable amount and it was strange to hear the winning captain pursue his call for neutral umpires.
Sunil Gavaskar's feat of completing 10,000 runs, Imran's felicity with the bat, which belied the position at which he generally batted, the progress of Ramiz Raja as an opening batsman, the dashes of brilliance shown by Srikkanth, Vengsarkar and Azharuddin - easily the outstanding fielder in the two teams - and the wily performance of the spinners, Tauseef Ahmed, Iqbal Qasim and Maninder Singh: such were the high points of what would otherwise have been a not so memorable series.
Test matches - Played 5: Won 1, Drawn 4.
First-class matches - Played 8: Won 1, Drawn 7.
Win - India.
Draws - India (4), Delhi, Indian Board President's XI, Indian Under-25 XI.
Non first-class matches- Played 9: Won 6, Lost 3. Wins - India (5), Indian XI. Losses - India, Cricket Club of India, Governor's XI.
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