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When Pakistan played cricket on Independence Day


Pakistan_Cricket_Independence_DayThe Pakistani national team played its first Test match a little over five years after the country attained independence on August 14, 1947. Pakistan won their second Test, against India at Lucknow, and went on to beat England at The Oval in 1954, which was, incidentally, the first out of five occasions when they have been involved in international action on their Independence Day. As Pakistan celebrates 71 years of independence, here is a look back at those five instances.

Note: The fourth day of the second Test against England at Trent Bridge in 1967 fell on August 14 as well, but the entire day’s play was washed out due to rain. Hence, it has been excluded.

Fourth Test (Day Three) v England, The Oval, 1954

Pakistan, under Abdul Hafeez Kardar, created history by becoming the first (and till date, only) team to record a Test win on their first tour of England, thereby squaring the four-match series 1-1. The first day’s play began only at half-past two due to rain, and the English attack immediately put Pakistan under pressure. Debutant pace bowlers Frank Tyson (4/35) and Peter Loader (3/35) justified their selection as Pakistan were rolled over for 133 after electing to bat.

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 three-run lead. Only Denis Compton (53) managed to put a price on his wicket, as the 27-year-old Fazal, with fellow fast bowler Mahmood Hussain (4/58) for company, wrought havoc to dismantle the English batting. England wrested back the initiative though, reducing Pakistan to 63/4 by stumps.

The left-arm spin of Johnny Wardle (7/56) further reduced the score to 82/8 on the fourth day, before the last two wickets doubled the score to set England a target of 168. At 109/2, England seemed to be on course. However, Fazal turned the tide by removing Peter May (53). By close of play, England were 125/6, and the momentum was with Pakistan going into the final day. Fazal (6/46) ensured there were no hiccups, and bowled Test cricket’s newest entrants to a 24-run win.

Second Test (Day Three) v England, Lord’s, 1982

Opener Mohsin Khan set Pakistan up for a series-leveling win by producing one of the great batting displays by a visiting batsman at the Mecca. Mohsin batted for eight and a quarter hours across the first two days to record a career-best 200, which enabled Pakistan to declare overnight at 428/8, after a rain-hit second day. He was aided well by Mansoor Akhtar (57) and Zaheer Abbas (75), with whom he shared century stands for the second and fourth wickets respectively.

Pakistan tasted early success on the third day, as Chris Tavare played on to give Sarfraz Nawaz (3/56) the first of his three wickets, with the score at 19. Captain David Gower and Ian Botham put on 68 after coming together at 89/3, but the latter’s dismissal, caught by Mohsin off leg-spinner Abdul Qadir (4/39), brought about England’s downfall. From 157/3, the hosts crumbled to 226/9 by the end of the day, when Mike Gatting accepted the umpires’ offer for bad light.

England’s innings terminated at 227 - just two short of avoiding the follow-on - when the match resumed on the fourth day, with Gatting stranded on 32*. Mr. Extras, with 46, was the innings’ top scorer. Despite fifties from Tavare (82) and Botham (69), England could only manage 276 in their second attempt, thanks to Mudassar Nazar’s 6/32. With Pakistan facing a target of 76 from 18 overs, Mohsin and Javed Miandad galloped towards a ten-wicket win with 29 balls remaining.

Second ODI (Morocco Cup) v Sri Lanka, Tangiers, 2002

This was the second game of the first and only ODI tournament to be played in Morocco, a tri-nation series involving Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka. Pakistan had lost to South Africa by 54 runs in the opening duel, and hence were looking for redemption against the Sri Lankans. After being put in to bat, Pakistan lost Imran Nazir early, but Saeed Anwar was in his element. The left-handed opener struck a 77-ball 70 before being the third man out at 147 in the 32nd over.

Inzamam-ul-Haq took over after Anwar departed, and his solid 63, along with an unbeaten 56 off just 39 balls from Younis Khan, carried Pakistan to a strong total of 279/5. Captain Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu gave Sri Lanka a sound start, putting on 55 for the first wicket, but the innings lost steam in the middle overs. Timely breakthroughs from the Pakistani bowlers, especially Abdul Razzaq (3/36), ensured that Sri Lanka finished their chase at 251/8.

Second Test (Day One) v Sri Lanka, Colombo, 2014

Pakistan arrived at the Sinhalese Sports Club facing a must-win situation if they were to draw the two-match series. The opening day featured fluctuating fortunes, with both the teams having their moments. Sri Lankan openers Upul Tharanga and Kaushal Silva provided a healthy start after Angelo Mathews elected to bat, before the latter was dismissed by left-arm seamer Junaid Khan. Tharanga went on to reach 92, even as Junaid (5/87) led the Pakistani bowlers’ comeback.

Sri Lanka ended the day at 261/8, somewhat squandering the dominant position they had at 144/1. They were bowled out for 320 the next day, to which Pakistan replied with 332, thanks to Sarfraz Ahmed’s 105. Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath bowled brilliantly to take 9/127. Pakistan were ultimately set a tricky 271, and a disastrous capitulation to 50/5 snuffed out even the faintest of hopes. Herath (5/57) did the star turn again as Sri Lanka cruised to a 105-run win.

Fourth Test (Day Four) v England, The Oval, 2016

In the summer of 1954, Pakistan had famously prevailed at The Oval to square the series. More than six decades later, they scripted a repeat, albeit with a much more convincing victory. Trailing by 2-1 in the four-match series, Pakistan drew first blood by having the hosts at 74/4. However, Moeen Ali revived the innings with a counterattacking 108 from number seven, steering England to 328. Fast bowler Sohail Khan (5/68) was the pick of the Pakistani bowlers.

Pakistan’s reply revolved around a magnificent 218 from Younis Khan, who was playing his final Test in England. Asad Shafiq (109) also played his part, and the duo’s fourth-wicket stand of 150 swelled the total to a massive 542. Younis was the ninth man out, having hit 31 fours and four sixes during his 308-ball stay. England’s task to save the Test got tougher in the final session of the third day, as leg-spinner Yasir Shah took three wickets to reduce the score to 88/4.

Jonny Bairstow (81) attempted to delay the inevitable, but Yasir netted two more victims to finish with figures 5/71 and 19 wickets in the series. When Bairstow was eighth out at 209, England trailed by five runs, before the last two wickets added 44 to at least ensure that Pakistan would have to bat again. Openers Sami Aslam and Azhar Ali completed the formalities to bring about a memorable ten-wicket win, which was Pakistan’s fifth win in ten Tests at The Oval.


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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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