Two cricketers made a quiet and yet very effective contribution to the tenth series between India and Pakistan. They were not players. John Hampshire and John Holder, both from England, were the third country umpires invited to officiate in the four Test matches, and their presence changed the nature of cricket contests between these two Asian neighbours. The frisson was missing. Events on the field were far less contentious, with both teams accepting the umpires, and their rulings, in good faith. The occasional mistakes, some glaring, did not lead to flare-ups, with the result that the atmosphere was refreshingly free of suspicion. Teams had been touring Pakistan for years without any firm belief that they could, or even would be allowed to, win a Test. In this series, the relations between the two sides were cordial and the cricket, if not spectacular, was highly competitive.
The neutral umpires stood only in the Tests, not in the one-day series, and conjecture was that their presence had much to do with the 0-0 result. That line of thinking, however, paid little regard to the splendid manner in which Sanjay Manjrekar held together the Indian batting. Pakistan had the better of the exchanges in the first two Tests but were unable to translate their advantage into victory.
India were treading a beaten path in the sense that they never lent thought to much else except drawing the Tests, which in the old days was considered the equivalent of victory. Their batting effort was a most determined one, while their bowling, orientated towards seam, did not lag behind in this respect. However, in conditions that were, in three Tests, conducive to swing and seam bowling, Pakistan had the more penetrative attack. But fitness, or the lack of it, posed problems which had an unsettling effect on Imran Khan's plans to extend his success against India.
Manjrekar was a steady influence on the Indian batting. He made 569 runs in the series at an average of 94.83 with a double-hundred, a hundred and three half-centuries, several of which were match-saving innings. Moreover, he made his runs with a classicism only too rare in the era of the all-pervasive one-day international. Mohammad Azharuddin and Navjot Sidhu made vital contributions in those Tests in which the bowlers had more going for them, and sixteen-year-old Sachin Tendulkar showed that age is no consideration in Test cricket when a batsman is brimming with talent. The third-youngest Test cricketer, and the youngest Indian, he made runs at critical stages to bolster a fiercely motivated side playing under a new captain in Krish Srikkanth. Srikkanth himself, however, failed with the bat and was to be unceremoniously dropped after the series.
Manoj Prabhakar, fast emerging as India's leading all-rounder, and Kapil Dev, revealing much enthusiasm, were used as a check on the Pakistan batting. They gave little away and, called on to deliver more than half of the overs bowled by India in the series, responded superbly to a captain who commanded such loyalty. Wasim Akram, with eighteen wickets for Pakistan, was the outstanding bowler of the series. His capacity for wicket-taking was, perhaps, at its peak, and time and again he destroyed India's peace of mind with an amazing display of variety, particularly with the new ball. The support bowling was nowhere in his class, even if Imran Khan did take thirteen wickets.
Imran admitted that he had batted better than ever in his career in this series. Salim Malik was another in good form with the bat, Javed Miandad made runs in his own combative way, despite the discomfort of a back problem, and Aamer Malik made two hundreds on the trot. Shoaib Mohammad, like Manjrekar for India, compiled a double-hundred in the ennui-inducing Third Test at Lahore, played on a featherbed of a pitch in contrast to the more lively surfaces at the other centres.
The one-day series never took off, the weather conspiring to deny the thrills associated with the short game. The crowds at these matches were invariably close to capacity - whereas those at the Test matches were not encouraging enough - but trouble caused by a rowdy Karachi crowd led to the abandonment of the third one-day international. This disturbance accentuated undercurrents in the troubled sea of India-Pakistan relations, in which cricket had once been an island of normalcy. Although Pakistan did not win the disrupted one-day series with their customary superiority over India, their two wins nevertheless suggested that little had changed in this form of the game as far as India were concerned.
Test matches - Played 4: Drawn 4.
First-class matches - Played 5: Drawn 5.
Draws - Pakistan (4), BCCP Patron's XI.
One-day internationals - Played 3: Lost 2, No Result 1. Abandoned 1.
Other non first-class matches - Played 2: Lost 2. Losses - Pakistan XI (2).
Match reports for
1st ODI: Pakistan v India at Peshawar, Dec 16, 1989