West Indies' sixth Test series in Pakistan was an unqualified disaster. The team's gradual decline from their previous high standards accelerated into freefall and they lost all three Tests by embarrassingly wide margins. Not since their first ever series, in England in 1928, had West Indies experienced such a thorough whitewash. Then, they lost all three matches by an innings. Nearly 70 years later, they came within 12 runs of a similar humiliation.
If the manner and extent of Pakistan's victories - the first two by an innings, the third by ten wickets - shocked the cricketing world, they were not altogether surprising to close followers of Courtney Walsh's team. All that was needed was opposition of the right calibre to expose and capitalise upon their inconsistency, indiscipline and complacency. And this time the Pakistanis, often their own worst enemies, displayed a ruthless efficiency under the inspiring leadership of Wasim Akram, restored to the captaincy after the defeat by South Africa. Wasim himself led the assault, taking 17 wickets, three more than Walsh, who soldiered on manfully with little assistance from his colleagues. By contrast, Wasim had other potent weapons in his arsenal. Leg-spinner Musthtaq Ahmed's 12 wickets included ten in the First Test in Peshawar, while off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq claimed nine in his only appearance, in the final Test in Karachi. Waqar Younis made an immediate impact on his return to partner Wasim with a spectacular dismissal of Brian Lara in the Second Test in Rawalpindi.
Lara's woes, on and off the field, typified and aggravated West Indies' struggles. Many explanations were sought for his pitiful return of 129 runs at 21.50, most focusing on the dressing-room rather than events in the middle. There were persistent reports of a power struggle between him and Walsh. The West Indies Cricket Board contributed to the furore by not naming an official vice-captain for the tour: Lara had held the position in recent series. Repeated denials by team management, who made him second-in-command anyway, of any rift or general dissension in the ranks failed to quell the almost daily speculation. Manager Clive Lloyd considered it a calculated ploy to unsettle his team. If it was, it worked.
West Indies' batting, so brittle in recent series, plumbed new depths of ineptitude. Only once did they total more than 300 in an innings - and then it was only just. The next best effort was 216, telling a stark tale of players out of their depth, unable - or unwilling - to concentrate for long periods against a challenging attack in testing conditions. Only opener Sherwin Campbell, who scored 248 runs including three half-centuries, suggested any degree of consistency and solidity. Carl Hooper attacked with sublime brilliance for his team's only century of the series, in Karachi, and compiled an equally delightful unbeaten 73 in Rawalpindi. But, typically, his other four scores totalled less than 50. Left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul came within five runs of a century in the Second Test yet contributed precious little otherwise. So successful against India in the Caribbean earlier in the year, Chanderpaul found the late swing of Pakistan's pace bowlers an almost insurmountable hurdle.
However, Pakistan's top order weighed in heavily against bowling that was often ordinary and lacking in purpose. An epidemic of dropped catches and generally ragged outcricket only served to ease Pakistan's passage to totals of 381, 471 and 417 in their three completed innings. Aamir Sohail was the prime beneficiary, compiling identical scores of 160 in each of the final two Tests to earn his team's man of the Series award. Inzamam-Ul-Haq topped the averages with 136.50 thanks to a monumental 177 in Rawalpindi after an unbeaten 92 in Peshawar. Not wanting to miss out on the run-feast, Ijaz Ahmed took over the role of opener from the injured Saeed Anwar in Karachi and hit 151. He shared an opening partnership of 298, a record for Pakistan, with Sohail, who had already put on 323 for the third wicket with Inzamam in the previous Test.
Walsh had little support. Aged 35, he bowled 32 more overs than anyone else, but the burden was too much for even him to carry alone. Curtly Ambrose, a destructive force in three previous series against Pakistan, was a shadow of his old self, taking just one wicket for 139 runs in the first two Tests, before injury forced him out of the Third. A few months later he would take out his frustrations on England. In the meantime. Mervyn Dillon filled the breach effectively. But leg-spinner Rawl Lewis disappointed on debut in Peshawar, another step backwards for West Indian slow bowlers. In these circumstances, Walsh's efforts were nothing short of heroic. The obvious choice as West Indies' Man of the Series, he returned home chastened, and on the brink of losing the captaincy, but having built up his Test aggregate to 353 wickets in 96 Tests.
The tourists encountered some of the difficulties associated with a tour of Pakistan, but hardly enough to explain their dreadful performances (they also lost all three of their matches in a quadrangular one-day tournament). The pitches were excellent and, though some local umpires made some highly questionable decisions against them, it mattered little in the final result. The loss of the first-class match scheduled for Hyderabad between the first two Tests was another setback, hindering their hopes of recovery. But none of these was a significant factor. Pakistan gave a rare display of how well they can play when the team's many and varied talents are properly and effectively harnessed.
C. A. Walsh ( Jamaica) (captain), C. E. L. Ambrose ( Leeward Islands), I. R. Bishop ( Trinidad & Tobago), S. L. Campbell ( Barbados), S. Chanderpaul ( Guyana), M. Dillon ( Trinidad & Tobago), R. I. C. Holder ( Barbados), C. L. Hooper ( Guyana), B. C. Lara ( Trinidad & Tobago), R. N. Lewis ( Windward Islands), F. A. Rose ( Jamaica), P. V. Simmons ( Trinidad & Tobago), P. A. Wallace ( Barbados), D. Williams ( Trinidad & Tobago), S. C. Williams ( Leeward Islands).
Manager: C. H. Lloyd. Coach: M. D. Marshall.
Test matches- Played 3: Lost 3.
First-class matches- Played 4: Lost 3, Drawn 1. Abandoned 1.
Losses- Pakistan (3).
Draw - Dr A. Q. Khan's XI.
Abandoned- Habib Bank.
One-day internationals- Played 3: Lost 3. Losses- Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan.
Other non-first-class match- Won v. National Bank.
|Ijaz Ahmed, Sen.||3||3||0||226||151||1||1||75.33||2|
|Played in two Tests: Waqar Younis 2, 12. Played in one Test: Arshad Khan 4; Saqlain Mushtaq 0; Shahid Nazir 18; Shoaib Akhtar 1 (1 ct).|
At KRL Cricket Ground, Rawalpindi, November 11, 12, 13, 14. Drawn. Toss: West Indians. West Indians 464 ( S. C. Williams 48, S. L. Campbell 76, P. V. Simmons 73, P. V. Simmons 73, C. L. Hooper 146 not out, R. N. Lewis 41; Abdul Razzaq three for 117, Naeem Akhtar three for 88) and 303 for four dec. ( P. A. Wallace 142, S. L. Campbell 54, R. N. Lewis 59); Dr A. Q. Khan's XI 267 ( Babar Zaman 62, Mohammad Naved 38, Bazid Khan 39, Naseer Ahmed 49, Extras 33: I. R. Bishop three for 83, F. A. Rose three for 82, M. Dillon three for 65) and 107 for three ( Bazid Khan 30 not out, Naseer Ahmed 45).
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