Crowds stay away

1st Test: Match Drawn

The drawn first Test produced some remarkable figures and records: Zaheer Abbas became the first batsman from this sub-continent to score 100 centuries; Mohsin reached his 1,000 runs in Tests in a calendar year, while Gavaskar not only passed the 7,000 Test run mark but in the process became only the second batsman after Greg Chappell to score over 1,000 runs against Pakistan in Tests.

With Abdul Qadir unfit, Pakistan went into the match with four seamers plus Mudassar and there was so much speculation about the wicket that Gavaskar took the unprecedented step of putting Pakistan into bat after winning the toss. Only the first day produced uneven bounce and once the bright sun evened that out, the wicket became typically placid, giving absolutely no help to the bowlers. The Indian team added to their own misery by dropping Mohsin and Zaheer, who built his innings like a master craftsman. As Pakistani batsmen tried to get quick runs in the later part of their innings, Doshi captured all the last four wickets to finish with five for 91.

Pakistan had a chance of exerting some pressure on the third day but the entire afternoon session had to be abandoned due to bad light and rain. Once this chance was lost, the draw was inevitable. Mohinder Amarnath, back in the Indian team after an absence of nearly two years, could not have played a more valuable innings for his team. He and Gavaskar saw India safely past the follow-on danger and then Sandeep Patil, who, like Majid Khan and Zaheer, has a fraction more time to play his strokes, played a gem of an innings. There is going to be plenty more of him as the series progresses and hisuninhibited stroke play is likely to be one of the highlights of this series.

Test match hundreds are never easily scored but one felt that Gavaskar allowed one to Mohsin in the second innings rather too easily. Sarfraz, who had announced his intention to retire from Test cricket after this game, captured 4 for 63 and was easily the best Pakistani bowler. Imran then prevailed upon Sarfraz, who decided not to retire in 'national interests'.

Perhaps the most tragic aspect of the first Test was the poor crowd response. Tests between India and Pakistan have always been great crowd pullers and this should have been no exception. However, in order to earn quick and easy money, the BCCP auctioned the entire series against India to a private party for approximately £800,000. The contractor fixed exhorbitant rates for entry, forcing the cricket crazy public of Lahore to stay away. The yawning empty stands, even on a holiday, compelled the contractor to reduce the rates by half after the second day but the spectators never returned.

No game can survive without crowd support and unless the BCCP learns to respect the public all interest in the rest of the series might well be lost. The person most disappointed about the shortage of spectators was Zaheer Abbas: 'For me, the hundredth hundred was a dream come true but there were hardly any spectactors to see this feat and cheer me up. It made me very sad and took part of the pleasure out of this achievement'.

The Cricketer