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Best of the Tests: Pakistan in England


England_Pakistan_Test_CricketPakistan are back in England, this time for a short two-Test series as against their previous bilateral visit in 2016, which was a full tour. Since their first meeting at Lord’s in 1954, the two sides have played 51 Tests against each other in England, with the hosts winning on 22 occasions to the visitors’ 11. As the commencement of Pakistan’s 15th Test series in England draws close, here is a look back at five of the most memorable encounters from their past sojourns.

Fourth Test, The Oval, 1954

Pakistan, under Abdul Hafeez Kardar, scripted history by becoming the first (and till date, only) team to record a Test win on their first tour of England. The hosts, leading 1-0 coming into this final Test, chose to rest the experienced pace-bowling duo of Alec Bedser and Trevor Bailey, and instead handed Test debuts to Frank Tyson and Peter Loader. The first day’s play began only at half-past two due to rain, and the English pacers immediately put Pakistan under the pump.

Tyson (4/35) and Loader (3/35) justified their selection as Pakistan were rolled over for 133 after electing to bat. It could have been worse if not for a recovery from the tail, what with the score reading 51/7 at one point. When play resumed on the third morning after a washed-out second day, Pakistan’s own pace ace Fazal Mahmood (6/53) bowled unchanged for 30 overs to give the visitors a slender three-run lead. Only Denis Compton (53) managed to put a price on his wicket.

England wrested back the advantage by reducing Pakistan to 63/4 by stumps. The score further regressed to 82/8 on the fourth day, before Wazir Mohammad (42*) and Zulfiqar Ahmed (34) staged a fightback by putting on 58 for the ninth wicket. The last two wickets added a priceless 82 runs, doubling the total to 164. Left-arm spinner Johnny Wardle exploited the dried pitch to claim 7/56, leaving England with more than four sessions to reach their target of 168.

Len Hutton fell to Fazal with the score at 15, but Peter May (53) was in his element and looked set to steer England to victory. However, the tide turned at 109/2, when Fazal had May caught by Kardar. By close of play, England had slid to 125/6, and the momentum was with Pakistan going into the final day. Fazal (6/46) ensured there were no hiccups, and went on to bowl his country to a famous 24-run win. Fazal’s haul of 12/99 remains the best by a Pakistani bowler in England.

Third Test, Headingley, 1971

Following draws at Edgbaston and Lord’s, there was all to play for in this decider. Geoffrey Boycott dropped anchor after Ray Illingworth called correctly, scoring 112 to help England reach 316. Boycott’s fourth-wicket stand with Basil D’Oliveira (74) fetched 135 runs. Pakistan’s reply revolved around fifties from Zaheer Abbas (72), Mushtaq Mohammad (57) and Wasim Bari (63), which eked out a lead of 34. The third day’s play was the slowest in Test history in England.

D’Oliveira (72) starred in the second innings as well and, along with Dennis Amiss (56) and Illingworth (45), took England to 264. D’Oliveira and Illingworth shared 106 for the sixth wicket before the last five wickets fell for just 16. Fast bowler Saleem Altaf returned stingy figures of 4/11. Set 231 to win, Pakistan began the last day at 25/0. The off-spin of Illingworth (3/58) consumed Aftab Gul and Zaheer in successive balls without any addition to the overnight score.

Pakistan further slumped to 65/4, even as opener Sadiq Mohammad held the fort. Sadiq found a willing ally in Asif Iqbal, and the duo brought their team back into contention with a fifth-wicket alliance worth 95. Sadiq made a fine 91, but when he was seventh out at 187, caught and bowled by D’Oliveira, England were sniffing victory. The last three wickets fell for just two runs, all of them to paceman Peter Lever (3/10), giving England the rubber with a 25-run win.

Third Test, Headingley, 1982

The summer of 1982 saw another Headingley decider - the series was locked one apiece this time - that resulted in another hard-fought win for the hosts. Pakistan slipped to 19/2 after deciding to bat, before Mudassar Nazar (65) and Javed Miandad (54) put the innings back on track with a 100-run stand for the third wicket. Later, skipper Imran Khan (67*) rallied with the lower order to take the total from 168/6 to 275. Ian Botham (4/70) was the pick of the English bowlers.

After standing up with the bat, Imran shone with the ball, taking 5/49 to give Pakistan a 19-run lead. David Gower (74) and Botham (57), the two top scorers, were both dismissed by Imran’s fellow pace bowler Sikander Bakht. Pakistan’s second innings got off to a horrendous start - Bob Willis (3/55) had Mohsin Khan caught behind off the very first ball. If that was not enough, Mudassar was caught in the slips just four balls later, leaving Pakistan at 3/2 after the first over.

Despite the efforts of Miandad (52) and Imran (46), Pakistan were kept to 199, due to a haul of 5/74 from Botham. Debutant Graeme Fowler struck 86 in the chase of 219, and at 168/1, victory seemed a formality. But Fowler’s dismissal to Mudassar (4/55) triggered a collapse, and England began the final day at 190/6. Imran (3/66) got rid of Botham with the target still 20 runs away, but Vic Marks - another debutant - and gloveman Bob Taylor held their nerves to secure a three-wicket win.

Second Test, Lord’s, 1992

The two teams renewed their battle at Lord’s after the first Test at Edgbaston resulted in a rain-affected draw. Graham Gooch chose to bat first and immediately blunted the much-vaunted Pakistani swing twins, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Gooch was involved in a solid 123-run opening partnership with Alec Stewart, before he was cleaned up by Akram for 69. Stewart contributed 74, which was the highest score of the innings.

England could not capitalise on the start though, and the innings terminated at 255. Waqar took 5/91; his eighth five-wicket haul in his 16th Test. Pakistan looked good to take control at 228/3, thanks to Aamer Sohail (73), Asif Mujtaba (59) and Saleem Malik (55), but lost their last six wickets for 65, which limited the lead to 38. Pacer Devon Malcolm led the way for the hosts with 4/70. England were 52/1 at the start of the fourth day, which would be the last day of the Test.

Except for Stewart (who carried his bat for 69*), no other batsman crossed 15, as England, done in by the pace and swing of Wasim (4/66) and the leg-spin of Mushtaq Ahmed (3/32), were bundled out for 175. The last four wickets fell for the addition of just one run, which meant that Pakistan needed only 138 to win their second Test at the Mecca. However, fast bowler Chris Lewis (3/43) decided to make things interesting in front of the 26,000-strong Sunday crowd.

Lewis nailed Ramiz Raja, Mujtaba and captain Javed Miandad - all of them for ducks - to leave Pakistan reeling at 18/3. Debutant leg-spinner Ian Salisbury chipped in as well, removing Malik and Sohail (39), while Inzamam-ul-Haq was run out. Pakistan were now 68/6, but Gooch had a problem - Phil DeFreitas and Ian Botham were down with injuries, and neither of them could bowl. Salisbury (3/49) kept going though, accounting for Moin Khan to make it 81/7.

It soon became 95/8, when Malcolm got rid of Ahmed. At the crease were Wasim and Waqar, who would go on to torment England with the ball as the series progressed. However, this time, the two Ws decided to frustrate the hosts with the bat, as they calmly inched towards the target. When the last over of the day began, the scores were level. It was Wasim (45*) who completed a nerve-wracking two-wicket win, driving Salisbury through the covers for four.

Third Test, Headingley, 2006

Pakistan came into this Test 1-0 down in the four-Test series, following a thumping innings defeat at Old Trafford. England rode on a fifth-wicket partnership of 153 between Kevin Pietersen (135) and Ian Bell (119) to pile up 515 (Umar Gul 5/123) after Andrew Strauss elected to bat. Pakistan replied strongly, with Younis Khan (173) and Mohammed Yousuf (192) sharing a mammoth 363 for the third wicket - a record for any wicket in Tests between the two countries.

With England trailing by 23 on the first innings, Strauss scored 116 to guide them to 345 towards the end of the fourth day, thereby setting Pakistan 323 with a full day remaining. The Pakistani batting imploded when it mattered, and half the side were back in the hut after 25 overs with 80 runs on the board. There was no rescue act in the offing - the end came at 155, with fast bowler Sajid Mahmood (4/22) and left-arm spinner Monty Panesar (3/39) doing the bulk of the damage.


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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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