India were 3-0 down in the series when the sides met in Bangalore but the tables were turned as the hosts chose three specialist spinners on a responsive surface. Bhagwath Chandrasekhar took six wickets in the first innings, Bishan Bedi six the second time around and England fell for 195 and 177. Without Alan Knott's spectacular resistance the margin would have been greater. The England press railed about Yajurvindra Singh's seven catches at short leg.
A tour almost cancelled by the Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi, because of the links of two England players with apartheid South Africa turned sour in the first Test in Mumbai. England made an official protest about the umpiring after they were caught out on an uneven pitch. The match was close until England collapsed to 102 all out in their second innings on a surface where several deliveries shot along the deck by the end. There followed five drawn Tests of mind-numbing tedium and India took the series 1-0.
Brilliant legspin bowling by Abdul Qadir gave Pakistan their first victory over England in 13 home Tests. England did not bother with warm-up matches and Qadir took eight wickets in the match with David Gower's two half-centuries representing England's only batting resistance of note in scores of 182 and 159. England's left-arm spinner, Nick Cook, struck back with match figures of 11 for 83 as Pakistan, needing only 65 to win, nicked it by three wickets.
Controversy dogged England's 1987-88 tour of Pakistan. The stand-off between England's captain, Mike Gatting and umpire Shakoor Rana in the second Test in Faisalabad almost caused the tour to be cancelled, but it had all kicked off in the first Test in Lahore, where Pakistan won by an innings and 87 runs with a day to spare. Qadir bowled wonderfully to take 13 for 101 in the match but Gatting alleged biased umpiring and there were even suspicions that the umpires were under instruction from the military authorities.
When Sri Lanka beat England by five wickets at the Sinhalese Sports Club, England privately grumbled about the legality of the bowling action of not one Sri Lanka spinner, but two. England looked well set after Robin Smith's century took them to 380 in their first innings, but Sri Lanka took a first-innings lead of 89 before Jayananda Warnaweera, with four wickets in both innings, even upstaged the incomparable Muttiah Muralitharan. Warnaweera, whose action had been debated in his native Sri Lanka for years, went on to become Galle groundsman and delighted in preparing perfect spinners' tracks for Murali.
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo