Toss: England. Test debuts: Pakistan - Ghulam Abbas
Everything else in this match was dwarfed by a wonderful innings of 146 from Asif Iqbal but it did not save Pakistan from defeat.
Still, it provided a rare treat for the Bank Holiday crowd. When Asif arrived at the crease Pakistan had slumped to 53 for seven wickets and the match seemed bound to finish before lunch as they still needed 167 to make England bat again.
He found a staunch ally in Intikhab and they indulged in a partnership of 190, a new record for the ninth wicket in Test cricket. Asif's 146 was the highest score by a number nine Test batsman. Indeed, only three men going in so late in that position can boast a hundred in Test matches. John Murray, 112, on this very ground the previous year against West Indies; R.R. Lindwall, 100, against England at Melbourne in 1946-47 and G.O.B. Allen, 122, against New Zealand at Lord's in 1931.
Hitting boldly, Asif excelled with the drive and hook. He raced to 50 out of 56 and Higgs, Arnold and Underwood, so supreme at one stage, all suffered during his drastic punishment. Intikhab's share when the stand reached three figures was 28. A sparkling off-drive from Higgs gave Asif his fourteenth four and took him to his first Test century in two hours, nineteen minutes.
An amazing scene followed. Hundreds of Pakistanis raced to the wicket and hoisted Asif shoulder high. The game was held up for five minutes and when a squad of police rescued him, the poor fellow was bruised and battered.
The team manager received him with a drink and he celebrated his great day by striking Higgs for five more boundaries in two overs. Close had kept a fairly tight field, always expecting Asif to make a fatal mistake.
Finally, Close entered the attack for the first time during the innings and with his fifth ball, a short off break from round the wicket, lured Asif far out of his ground for Knott to stump him. Asif spent three hours, ten minutes for his 146 out of 202 and he hit two sixes and twenty-one fours. Intikhab, last out, followed in the next over, bowled by Titmus for a noble 51 included six 4's.
A throat infection laid Boycott low on the morning of the match and Close, who won the toss and decided to put in Pakistan to bat in a heavy misty atmosphere, announced that he would open the innings with Cowdrey and that Amiss would be included at number five.
Arnold, five for 58, and Higgs, three for 61, soon made a breach in the Pakistan innings and only some stout-hearted batting by Mushtaq prevented a complete rout. Mushtaq began with a glorious hook for 6 off Higgs; he based his defence on playing forward with a straight bat. He looked much safer than in his previous Test innings at Lord's and Trent Bridge where he preferred to play back with disastrous consequences.
Barrington held the stage on the second day when he made his first Test century at The Oval; his third in successive Tests against Pakistan and his nineteenth in seventy-four Tests. Moreover he became the only cricketer to reach three figures for England on each of the six home Test Match centres. This was a vastly different display from his seven-hour marathon in the second Test a fortnight earlier.
For two and a half hours in the middle of the day the crowd, basking in the sunshine, saw cricket at its best while Barrington and Graveney put on 141. Graveney, who hit ten fours, gave an artistic display. Barrington placed his off drives with marked skill and he hooked strongly, England finishing with a total of 257 for three at the close, Barrington 129.
Dull batting by England followed on Saturday when in four hours before tea only 160 runs were added while the Pakistan bowlers were content to average sixteen overs an hour. Barrington added only 13 in just under the first hour so that altogether his chanceless 142 occupied five and three-quarter hours. He hit one five and fourteen fours.
Later Arnold batted splendidly for his highest score in England; his 59 in one hour fifty minutes included two sixes and six fours and in the end Pakistan needed 224 to avoid an innings defeat.
They went in again at five minutes past five and Higgs in his first three overs, all maidens, dismissed Ilyas, Saeed and Majid. Wasim Bari, sent in first, defended solidly for eighty minutes but at the close, Pakistan, 26 for four, were in a hopeless position.
The story of their partial recovery on Monday has already been told, but they left England only 32 to win, and before the finish Asif crowned a great personal triumph by disposing of the two England opening batsmen, Close and Cowdrey, so that Barrington was left to make the winning hit, a cover drive for 4 from Hanif, the match being completed by ten minutes past five with a day to spare.