Pakistan's third tour of the West Indies produced an entertaining and absorbing series. Pakistan won the First Test, the Second was drawn, and West Indies won the Third to preserve their unbeaten record at home since 1972-73. It was a result that Pakistan could reflect on with pride, for not since the drawn 1973-74 rubber with England had West Indies failed to win a home series.
Yet there had been a time when Pakistan looked towards the tour with apprehension. Imran Khan, their captain and inspirational all-rounder, was in retirement, Wasim Akram was suffering from groin and hernia injuries which would require surgery before the tour, and Abdul Qadir's recurring kidney ailment was again troubling him. However, in mid-January Imran yielded to immense public pressure and a personal request from the President of Pakistan, General Zia-ul-Haq, to come out of retirement and lead the touring team. It was a decision which no-one regretted, for the Test series that followed was an epic one.
The early indications were not promising. While Imran, Wasim and Qadir were still regaining match fitness, Pakistan lost the one-day international series 5-0. Worse, Tauseef Ahmed, the economical off-spinner, returned home after only two games because of injury. Ijaz Faqih, an off-spinning all-rounder who had scored a hundred against India a year earlier, joined the team as replacement. But once the Test matches began, Pakistan bounced back admirably. West Indies, without Vivian Richards, their captain, and Malcolm Marshall, were beaten in four days at Georgetown, with Imran producing a morale-boosting match return of eleven for 121. The four-day match against West Indies Under-23 XI was won by 211 runs, and in the Second Test, at Port-of-Spain, Pakistan chased a target of 372 with much verve before Qadir played out the final five deliveries to secure the draw in a nail-biting finish. At Barbados, an unbroken ninth-wicket stand for 61 between Jeffrey Dujon and Winston Benjamin squared the series in a match of fluctuating fortunes and high drama.
Unfortunately, the tension at Kensington Oval overflowed into an unsavory incident on the boundary on the last morning. Qadir, after having appeals against Dujon and Benjamin turned down by umpire Archer, became involved with a 21-year-old spectator, Albert Auguste. Infuriated at an insulting remark, he turned and threw a punch at the heckler, hitting him on the arm. Qadir later received a summons from the police, but with the matter being decided out of court for a settlement of $US1,000, Auguste did not press charges against the Pakistan leg-spinner.
That Pakistan became the first country to beat West Indies in a home Test since Australia in 1977-78 was due mainly to Imran's spirited performance with the ball and the masterly batting of Javed Miandad. Imran went on to finish the series with 23 wickets, the most by a bowler on either side, while Miandad, who had previously not scored a hundred against West Indies, followed his 114 in the First Test with 102 in the Second and was leading run-getter in the series. These two, along with Mudassar Nazar and the manager, Intikhab Alam, had been on Pakistan's previous tour of the Caribbean, in 1976-77. Then twelve first-class matches were played, including five Tests. This time, the tour was not as well balanced.
After a single four-day game, Pakistan were pitched in against West Indies in the one-day international series. Another four-day game separated the fourth and fifth one-day internationals, and then came the First Test. It was not the ideal preparation for a team containing so many players without experience of the conditions. Moreover, in addition to the recently capped Aamer Malik, three players were making their first tours with the senior side: Moin-ul-Atiq, an opening batsman, and Naved Anjum and Haafiz Shahid, both fast-medium bowlers. Salim Yousuf, as against England on Pakistan's previous tour, showed the effectiveness of his cavalier batting under pressure, and Shoaib Mohammad, with a double-hundred against the Board XI at Georgetown and two half-centuries in the last Test, hinted that he might be justifying the faith placed in him. Qadir bowled well, but in patches, while Wasim, except for the final Test, was never fully fit.
Although Pakistan managed to make regular inroads into the West Indian batting, they invariably recovered (as did Pakistan) through their middle and lower order. The success of Dujon, Gus Logie and Carl Hooper at different times showed that West Indies were rebuilding solidly. Marshall and Benjamin were their leading wicket-takers, supported by Curtly Ambrose who, after an unimpressive Test début, improved as the series progressed.
The umpiring of the series, except for a few debatable decisions, was good; yet at the end of the series Imran, an admirer of West Indian umpiring, had become desenchanted. "Umpiring had been outstanding throughout the series," he said immediately after West Indies had levelled the rubber. "Unfortunately, during the second innings of the Bridgetown Test we were disappointed. Three vital mistakes went against us."
Test matches - Played 3: Won 1, Lost 1, Drawn 1.
First-class matches - Played 6: Won 2, Lost 1, Drawn 3.
Wins - West Indies, West Indies Under-23 XI.
Loss - West Indies.
Draws - West Indies, WICBC President's XI, West Indies Board XI.
One-day internationals - Played 5: Lost 5.
Match reports for