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5 classic Pakistan vs West Indies Tests

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West_Indies_Pakistan_Test_CricketPakistan have begun their eighth Test series in the West Indies, with the first of three Tests being played at the iconic Sabina Park in Kingston. It is a wee bit surprising that Pakistan are yet to win a Test series in the Caribbean, given that they were perhaps the likeliest challenger to the all-conquering West Indian teams of the eighties and early nineties.

Whether due to the strength of the opposition or plain misfortune, it has hitherto been a seemingly endless wait for Pakistan to notch a series triumph in the West Indies, a feat that every other Test nation bar Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe has achieved. Within the next three weeks, it will become known if Pakistan finally manage to set the record straight and improve upon their tally of five wins in 23 Tests in the Caribbean.

This series is also significant for Pakistan’s batting, as it will be the last time that captain Misbah-ul Haq and Younis Khan – two of the finest Test batsmen produced by the country – will be seen taking guard in an international outing. 

With the potentially gripping tussle underway, we look back at five classic Test matches played between the two sides in the West Indies:

First Test, Bridgetown, 1957-58

The Kensington Oval played host to the inaugural Test between the West Indies and Pakistan, a game remembered for one of the most epic sporting rearguards. The Pakistani bowlers bore the brunt of a first innings onslaught, as debutant opener Conrad Hunte (142) and the great Everton Weekes (197) slashed dominating hundreds. Collie Smith prolonged the agony with a breezy 78, and the West Indies declared at an imposing 579/9 late on the second day.

Pakistan’s openers Hanif Mohammad and wicketkeeper Imtiaz Ahmed began soundly by adding 35, before the latter’s dismissal to the fiery Roy Gilchrist triggered an abject implosion. The pace-spin duo of Gilchrist (4/32) and Smith combined to skittle Pakistan for a paltry 106 – no batsman crossed 20. Following on, 473 runs in arrears, the visitors desperately needed a miracle to help them stay afloat. Hanif, the original ‘little master’, provided just that.

Hanif put on 152 with Imtiaz (91) for the opening wicket and went on to share in century stands for the next three wickets as well. He was simply immovable from the crease, and it was not until the final session of the last day of this six-day Test that he was dislodged. He ended with a mammoth 337, spanning 970 minutes, the longest Test innings of all time and then the longest first-class innings as well. The knock consisted 24 fours and was a stunning exhibition of restraint.

Pakistan declared at 657/8, and the hosts, requiring 185, ended at 28/0 in the inconsequential fourth innings. Hanif’s match-saving marathon fell only 28 short of overhauling the then Test record of 364 held by Len Hutton, and to this day remains one of only two triple centuries scored in the second innings of a Test. The difference of 551 between Pakistan’s first and second innings also stands as a Test record till date.

First Test, Bridgetown, 1976-77

Pakistan’s second tour of the West Indies came almost two decades after their first, with Bridgetown hosting the series opener again. Majid Khan’s solid 88 at the top gave Pakistan a strong platform, but the hosts kept striking at regular intervals to keep the score to 269/6 on the first day. Wasim Raja, batting at number seven, took charge on the following day with an unbeaten 117. With support from the tail, he helped push the total to 435.

The West Indies slipped to 183/5 in reply, before captain Clive Lloyd and wicketkeeper Deryck Murray stitched together 151 for the sixth wicket. Lloyd was seventh out for a delightful 157, and his effort limited Pakistan’s first-innings lead to 14. On the fourth day, the hosts snatched the upper hand as their pace bowlers, led by Colin Croft (4/47), sent Pakistan crashing from 102/2 to 158/9, at which point wicketkeeper Wasim Bari came out to join Raja.

What followed was a sensational partnership of 133, then the second-highest for the tenth wicket. Raja top-scored for the second time with 71, while Bari contributed 60*. The West Indians, Murray in particular, did not help themselves either, conceding a then record 68 extras, including 29 byes. The tide had turned yet again as the West Indies now required 306 to win. They lost Gordon Greenidge early and began the final day at 41/1.

Roy Fredericks and Vivian Richards (92) added 130 for the second wicket, and at 142/1, Pakistan had cause to worry. However, Sarfraz Nawaz dismissed both batsmen to shift the momentum and his fellow pacemen Saleem Altaf and Imran Khan kept things boiling. When the eighth wicket fell at 217, the mandatory 20 overs were yet to begin. The tail admirably stood up though – Andy Roberts resisted for 95 minutes - and the hosts escaped by finishing at 251/9.

Second Test, Port-of-Spain, 1987-88

The first Test of this series ended in a nine-wicket win for Pakistan, on the back of an eleven-wicket haul from skipper Imran Khan. He continued the same in the second Test, taking 4/38 to help bowl the West Indies out for 174. Pakistan themselves were reduced to 55/5 by stumps on day one, and then further to 68/7. An attacking 66 from Saleem Malik and his eighth-wicket stand worth 94 with Saleem Yousuf enabled the visitors to eke out a narrow 20-run lead.

The unstoppable Imran (5/115) then grabbed the first four wickets in the West Indies’ second innings, leaving the hosts at a wobbly 81/4. However, the majestic Vivian Richards was in his element, and he shared in stands of 94 with Carl Hooper for the fifth wicket and 97 with Jeff Dujon for the sixth en-route to a knock of 123 off only 169 balls. Dujon got a hundred too, remaining unbeaten on 106 after adding valuable runs with the tail.

Pakistan were set 372 to win, and they ended the fourth day at 107/3. Imran’s wicket (169/5), put the West Indies in pole position. Javed Miandad (102) kept fighting though, and he shared in a sixth-wicket stand of 113 with Ijaz Ahmed. Pakistan needed 84 with only three wickets in hand when he was dismissed. Yousuf kept the hosts at bay until he was ninth out with five balls left, which Abdul Qadir survived amid great tension, leaving the score at 341/9 and the match drawn.

Third Test, Bridgetown, 1987-88

Trailing 1-0 in the three-Test series, this was a must-win encounter for the West Indies if they were to maintain their undefeated series record dating back to 1980. Pakistan adopted an aggressive approach on batting first; they were bowled out for 309 at more than four runs an over. The next day saw the West Indies struggle to 226/8 by stumps, before they recovered to 306. With Pakistan leading by just three, the stage was set for a second-innings shootout.

Ramiz Raja was got rid of early in the second innings, but Mudassar Nazar and Shoaib Mohammad added 94 for the second wicket. Shoaib’s dismissal for 64 in the last session of the third day, his second fifty of the game, sparked a collapse of 4 for 16 as Pakistan slid to 169/6. The lower order, guided by Imran Khan, stretched the total to 262. Malcolm Marshall bowled superbly to take 5/65, giving himself nine wickets in the match.

The West Indies thus needed 266 to level the rubber. Richie Richardson struck a bellicose 64, but Pakistan made timely inroads. The match looked well-poised going into the final day, with the hosts at 154/5. The pressure was on the hosts when Vivian Richards fell to make it 180/7, which later became 207/8. However, Jeff Dujon and Winston Benjamin thought otherwise; the duo combined for a gripping, unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 61 to see their side home.

Third Test, St. John’s, 2000

Having squandered a great opportunity to win a maiden series in the Caribbean in 1987-88, Pakistan found themselves in yet another decider (the series was locked at 0-0) and went on to endure yet another agonizing defeat. An unbeaten 103 from Mohammad Yousuf, then known as Yousuf Youhana, formed the fulcrum of Pakistan’s first-innings total of 269, rescuing them from a perilous 33/3. The tireless Courtney Walsh, in the twilight of his career, took 5/83.

In reply, the West Indies were in a strong position at 218/3, but subsided to 273 courtesy of a haul of 6/61 from a charged-up Wasim Akram; Shivnarine Chanderpaul top-scored with a resolute 89. Trailing by only four, Pakistan were bowled out for 219 in the second dig, Inzamam-ul-Haq scoring a stroke-filled 68. The target for the hosts was 216 and a minimum of 154 overs still remained. After two stalemates, a result was finally on the cards.

The West Indies finished the fourth day at 144/4, with a young Wavell Hinds displaying maturity in compiling 63 before falling to Wasim. Early on the final day, Wasim trapped rookie Ramnaresh Sarwan plumb leg before while Ridley Jacobs was run out. The score was now a worrying 169/6. All hopes rested on captain Jimmy Adams, who was 15* overnight. Adams began to hog most of the strike, but that did not stop the steady fall of wickets at the other end.

Wasim (5/49) soon took his eleventh wicket in the match, making the score 197/9. Walsh, the quintessential tail-ender, came out to join Adams. At 200/9, he was reprieved by umpire Doug Cowie, who overlooked a valid catch at forward short-leg. To make matters worse, Younis Khan missed a straightforward run-out chance two runs later. Adams stayed put though, unbeaten on a dour 48, and ultimately hit the winning run to seal the series for his team with a one-wicket win.   

 

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

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