Upcoming Pakistan tour of England freshened up my 30 years back memory when I used to be cricket observer, With the retirement of Zaheer Abaas, Javed Miandad was the undisputed best batsman of the team; Ramiz Raja and Salim Malik were talented middle order bats. Wasim Akram was fast emerging as a world class fast bowler, and along with his captain formed a hostile new ball attack. The spin combination of Qadir and Tausif was highly effective, especially in the sub-continent conditions.
In the spring the Pak-SL series ended 1-1. The Paks were the comfortable winners in the 1st test; but were badly beaten in the 2nd. The Paks were extremely upset about a number of umpiring decisions that went against them in the 2nd match. In fact, things got so bad, that there was a possibility of the tour being abandoned at that stage. Fortunately, high officials from Islamabad intervened, and Imran’s men continued their tour of the island. Later, they were beaten in the finals of the Asia Cup, to the hosts SL. But, the Pak side bounced back brilliantly, with their last ball victory over India, at Sharjah, in April, to lift the 1st Australasia Cup. (More about this later)
The Pak-WI series in autumn was one of the highlights of the year. It fully lived up to its billing as the ultimate fight for supremacy in the test arena. The pitches in Pakistan were slow, resulting in absorbing, fascinating battle between the two best teams in world cricket.
The WI selectors decided to rest Garner and Holding for this tour (both would be ending their career at the end of the season). This, however, hardly weakened the bowling, as the young brigade, (Walsh, Gray, Patterson) were more than ready to support the main weapon, Malcolm Marshall. Half way through the morning session of the first day of series, at Faisalabad, it appeared that Marshall didn’t need any help. Bowling at a blistering pace in a slow wicket, he accounted for the Pak top three, Moshin, Mudassar, Ramiz. With Gray and Patterson also joining in the party, the home-side was restricted to 37/5 at one stage. Salim Malik produced a brave resistance, But, his innings, ended after he was hit in the finger by a rising delivery from Walsh. He retired hurt, 21. Pakistan eventually reached 159, thanks mainly to the heroics of their captain, Imran Khan; he was the last man out for 61.
The Pak captain having shown the fighting-sprit, it was next the duty of his ablest Lieutenant, Wasim Akram to carry on the fight. His 6/91 restricted the opposition to only 248. Wasim then top scored with 66, in the Pak 2nd innings, batting in his usual aggressive fashion, as the home side took command scoring 328. Almost everybody contributed; Mohsin Khan (40), WK salim Yousuf, coming as night-watchman (61), Qasim Omar (48), Miandad (30), Imran (23). Even Salim Malik, who was expected to play no further part in the match, came out to bat at the fall of the 9th wicket. He made only 3*, but shared a vital 32 run partnership with Akram.
WI batting collapsed badly on the final innings. They were bowled out for just 53, with Qadir (6/16) and Imran (4/30) doing the damage.The WI however bounced back immediately thrashing Pakistan, by an innings and 10 runs in the next match at Lahore. Walsh with 3/56 and 4/21 emerged as the destroyer in chief. So, everything hung on the decisive final test at Karachi.
The pitch at the national stadium was painfully slow. Yet, the crowd saw fast bowling of the highest class from the two best fast bowlers of world cricket at the time, Imran and Marshall. After WI started batting 2nd time, with a slender 1 run lead, they were restricted to 211 all out. Imran produced a superb efforts to finish with 6/46. Only opener Desmond Haynes defied him, carrying his bat through for 88*. Any hope of a Pak victory, however, vanquished completely, as Marsahll restricted them to 25/4. He finished the series, just the way he had started it, and at the end the home side was happy to finish at 125/7.
While, the WI-Pak series satiated the Pundits immensely (the only regret from their perspective was that this was not a full 5 test series); for most Pak cricket fans, their most memorable moment of the year had come earlier, in April, at Sharjah. It’s time to setup my schedule to watch Pak vs England 2020 test series live streaming on ptv sports and who knows I will be writing about current situation 10 years from now.