Qamar Ahmed and Samiul Hasan
New Zealand were originally due to arrive in Pakistan in September 2001, but called the tour off because of security fears after the terrorist attacks in the USA. Seven months later, they honoured their commitment, travelling to Pakistan for three one-day internationals and two Test matches - down from the three Tests originally planned.
Sadly, after all the spadework done by the Pakistan Cricket Board, the tour came to an abrupt and tragic end. A car bomb exploded in front of the Pearl Continental Hotel in Karachi, where both teams were staying, a couple of hours before the start of the Second Test, and killed 14 people, including 11 French engineers who were in Karachi helping the Pakistan Navy to build submarines. None of the players was hurt, though they witnessed some horrific injuries to bystanders, and the New Zealand physio-therapist, Dayle Shackel, was cut by flying glass.
The referee, Mike Procter, swiftly announced the cancellation of the Test, and the tour; the dazed Pakistan officials had no alternative but to agree. But it was depressing news for their board. They had already lost nearly $US20m after India had refused to come to Pakistan for the Asian Test Championship for political reasons, and Sri Lanka and West Indies had also declined to tour after September 11. To fulfil the requirements of the ICC Test Championship, the West Indian series was transferred to Sharjah. Now, the Karachi blast put Test cricket in Pakistan, and the future of the Championship, in jeopardy. The single Test played here did not qualify as a series in the Championship reckoning, and how many times could a tour be rescheduled?
The tourists' manager, Jeff Crowe, was sympathetic to the Pakistan board. He had been in a similar situation as New Zealand's captain in Sri Lanka in 1986-87, when their trip was aborted after a bomb in Colombo. New Zealand's 1992-93 visit to Sri Lanka had also been marred by a bomb outside their hotel, which caused several tourists to leave early. But this had been "an excellent tour until today", Crowe said. "We got the security that was promised, and we have no complaints. It was a devastating blow because both the PCB and NZC had tried their best to make the tour happen."
The New Zealanders had not had an easy time, however. The worst cricketing setback had been the loss of Nathan Astle, who damaged ligaments in his left knee during the first match. Andre Adams also left early, with a stress fracture. Several players suffered severe stomach upsets, and Pakistan's first home Test to be staged in May was played in temperatures approaching 40°C, causing match officials to schedule extra drinks breaks.
On the field, Pakistan's triumph was total. Their record on home soil had been disappointing in recent years: they had not won a Test series there since beating West Indies in 1997-98. In the one-day games they achieved their first clean sweep since Zimbabwe's visit in 1996-97. Shoaib Akhtar unofficially bowled a 100mph delivery, and followed his best figures in one-day internationals, six for 16 at Karachi, with his best in Tests, six for 11 at Lahore. Even he was overshadowed by the hefty figure of Inzamam-ul-Haq, who became the 15th man to score a triple-hundred in Tests. New Zealand crumbled for 73 and went down to the fifth-heaviest defeat in Test history. Once the Second Test was cancelled, however, Pakistan's dominance counted for nothing in the ICC Championship.
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