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With the third series in succession between Pakistan and West Indies being drawn, each side winning one Test, the unofficial world championship of cricket - as this three-match series was labelled - remained undecided. It was a low-scoring series, for the pitches were not conducive to strokemaking, and yet it was an absorbing one. If ultimately West Indies appeared to be the better Test side, there was the consolation for Pakistan of their first series victory over West Indies in one-day internationals.
Although accusations were levelled at the authorities for preparing slow pitches to suit the Pakistani spinners, it was the fast bowlers who dominated the Test matches. Of the 97 wickets which fell to bowlers, 85 were taken by the fast men, with the pace and swing of the Pakistani pair, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, catching the West Indians unawares in the First Test. This made it all the more surprising that, after they had shared fifteen wickets in Pakistan's victory, a slow pitch was provided at Faisalabad for the Second Test. The spinners, on whom Imran Khan had been banking, let him down, though had Imran played in the series against New Zealand, which preceded this one, he would have known that his spin bowlers had lost their edge and were no longer so reliable. On a pitch of uneven bounce, it was the West Indian pacemen who did the damage and the match was over in three days.
Malcolm Marshall made the decisive breakthrough there, taking four wickets in thirteen balls after lunch on the third day. That, however, was his only significant contribution on the tour with the ball. Gordon Greenidge was an even bigger disappointment, unable to average 10 from his six Test innings, and Jeffrey Dujon was another established player to have an unsatisfactory series. Desmond Haynes, captaining the West Indians while Vivian Richards recuperated from a recent operation, and Carl Hooper hit the only Test hundreds for the tourists, and while Richie Richardson and Gus Logie also batted well, they did so in patches. The left-handed Brian Lara, coming into the side for the final Test after Carlisle Best had split the webbing of his right hand, quickly proved his worth with a gritty disciplined first innings to follow his 139 against the Combined XI at Sargodha. This was the only fixture of the tour which was not an international of one kind or another.
Ian Bishop, the Wills Man of the Series for West Indies, was the pick of their bowlers, his sixteen wickets costing 18.87 apiece, and with Curtly Ambrose he provided a potent spearhead. Courtney Walsh, like Marshall, was more expensive and less penetrative, but he gave tireless support throughout. He was also the target in one of the less savoury moments on the tour, being hit by an object thrown from one of the stands during the tense final day of the last Test. While the matter was soon sorted out, with the culprit being taken to task by ground security officials, play was halted for five minutes when Walsh ran to the middle from the third-man boundary and pulled out a stump to vent his disgust at the crowd's behaviour. He subsequently left the field for treatment.
Time was lost throughout the series for reasons of a less controversial nature. Heavy morning dew and fading light in the late afternoon several times cut into the hours of play, with the result that even a requirement of 72 overs a day became an unattainable target.
For Pakistan, Salim Malik batted splendidly for an aggregate of 285 runs at 57.00 in the Tests, including the home team's only century, and of 179 in the three one-day internationals. It came as no surprise that Shoaib could not repeat his heavy scoring of the New Zealand series, but he made a key contribution to the First Test victory. And Imran Khan compensated with his batting for what he was beginning to lose as a bowler. Without his defiant half-century in the last Test, the series would probably have been lost. Wasim Akram, with 21 wickets at 14.19 and two important innings at Lahore, was Pakistan's Wills Man of the Series.
The umpiring of Khizar Hayat and Riazuddin throughout the series made a good impression, with the newcomer, Riazuddin, winning admiration for his coolness under pressure. There were mistakes, but because these favoured neither side in particular, there were no grounds for recriminations. However, as after the New Zealand series, there were complaints from the visiting team's management that the Pakistanis were tampering with the ball to help it swing. The charge was promptly denied by Imran Khan and the Pakistan Board.
"It's a ridiculous charge," Imran said, "The Pakistan bowlers play in county games and have never been accused by any player or umpire. They played under the close scrutiny of John Hampshire and John Holder in the series against India and not a finger was raised. I am surprised at the allegations."
Arif Ali Abbasi, then secretary of the Pakistan Board, stated that after the First Test he had shown the ball used by the Pakistan bowlers to Lance Gibbs, the West Indies manager, and also the ball used by the West Indians. The manager agreed that the ball used by the West Indians was in a much worse condition than the one used by Pakistan, he said.
Test matches- Played 3: Won 1, Lost 1, Drawn 1.
First-class matches- Played 4: Won 1, Lost 1, Drawn 2.
Draws- Pakistan, Pakistan Combined XI.
One-day internationals- Played 3: Lost 3.
Match reports for