Allan Border… 150 not out and 153 © Getty Images
On March 23, 1980, one of the most insipid games — only in terms of the result — between Pakistan and Australia, came to a close at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium. The contest saw Allan Border become the only player to register scores over 150 in both innings of a Test, Dennis Lillee register his best bowling spell in the sub-continent and Pakistani wicket-keeper Taslim Arif grab his first Test wicket. Karthik Parimal revisits the moments.
Having been trumped by Iqbal Qasim’s left-arm spin at Karachi, before settling for a draw at Faisalabad, an exhausted Australian side, led by Greg Chappell, made its way to the bustling city of Lahore, where they had a final opportunity to draw level in the series.
A week before the third Test, Chappell told the media that Dennis Lillee was suffering from diarrhoea and, hence off-spinner Ashley Mallett would be flown in as his replacement. However, the decision was yet to be finalised. And so the Lahore ground staff had prepared two wickets — a grassy one and a bare one. If Lillee was picked, the latter surface would be used, thereby ensuring that the tearaway speedster got absolutely no assistance from the wicket, and if he wasn’t, then the Australians would have been put in against the likes of Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz on the grassy one. In the end, Lillee was cleared to play, and the bare wicket was duly presented.
An Allan Border special
It was a familiar start for the visitors on March 18, 1980, as had been the case throughout that series, with the first two wickets falling for little. Chappell and Julien Wiener then offered resistance and, at stumps, Australia had trudged along to 239 for six, with Allan Border batting on 39. Many expectations were placed on the able shoulders of this 25-year-old after his recent exploits against West Indies’ fearsome battery of pace bowlers. He also proved his salt against the English and, was a force to reckon with prior to that during the tour of sub-continent against India in 1979-80.
Border’s approach was considered refreshing, for he always stood out in a team whose aim often was to achieve a draw, not a win.
The next day, he blazed his way to a hundred, his fifth in 20 Tests, after a six-and-a-half hour duel against Imran, Sarfraz, Qasim and Tauseef Ahmed. Back then, the Australian team was often subject to change, for the captain could pick or choose his availability. The presence or absence of the protagonist hence altered the combinations quite drastically, but Border, with this knock, wrote his name on the team sheet with indelible ink.
Australia declared their innings on the second afternoon at 407 for seven, as the southpaw remained unconquered on 150, in an innings that was inclusive of 15 fours and two sixes.
The Dennis Lillee episode
Before the Lahore Test, Lillee was wicketless in Pakistan. He bowled a total of 60 overs in two Tests, conceding 189 runs without much success. Therefore, while the rest of the Australian squad headed to Multan for a tour game, Chappell and Lillee travelled straight to the venue of the third Test, since the facilities at the Gaddafi Stadium were believed to be much better for practice. After training, the duo had enough time on their hands every evening and, on one occasion was invited to open a sports store. As thanks, dinner was arranged for the honoured guests, and lassis [a yogurt-based drink, popular in the region of Punjab were served as starters]. Chappell was apprehensive about taking even a sip of it, for they were told to ‘take care about salads, water and diary products’ before the tour commenced.
What followed next was humorously penned down by Chappell, in his book Fierce Focus. “Dennis elbowed me and said, ‘Are you going to drink that?’ I said no, thinking he was on my wavelength. Before I knew it, he reached across me and gulped it down. We were still dehydrated from the training. I thought, ‘That at least saves me the embarrassment.’ We had a lovely meal, then went back to our room. I was woken after a few hours by the sound of Dennis in the bathroom, both ends going, vomiting and diarrhoea,” recollects Chappell.
For Lillee, the next few days were spent amid injections, tablets and rehydrating fluids. It was a battle against time and his chances of taking the field were slim. Nevertheless, he made the cut, and despite being just 60 per cent fit, he bowled 42 overs in Lahore’s sweltering heat to finish with figures of three for 114 in Pakistan’s total of 420 for nine declared. Like Chappell aptly said following Lillee’s performance, “It doesn’t matter how long you know a champion, they always have some new dimension of their greatness to reveal.”
Border brilliance, yet again, and a few rare feats
Australia’s second innings commenced on the fourth day and by now the game was meandering towards yet another turgid draw. They got off to a cautious start, but it was punctuated by another score of over 150 by Border, only this time it was scored in 184 balls at a strike-rate of 83.15, amassing 16 fours and five sixes. With this, he became the first man to score 150 or more in both innings of a Test.
Javed Miandad, Pakistan’s captain, used 10 bowlers during this innings, including wicket-keeper Taslim Arif, who had Graeme Beard stumped on 49. It was the former who donned the gloves and whipped the bails on this instant. This was to be Arif’s only wicket, and also Miandad’s only stumping, in Test cricket.
The game, as anticipated, ended in a draw and, Pakistan won the three-match contest 1-0. It also gave Miandad his first taste of series victory as a captain.
Brief Scores: Australia 407 for 7 decl. (Allan Border 150*, Julien Wiener 93, Greg Chappell 56; Iqbal Qasim 4 for 90) and 391 for 8 (Allan Border 153, Bruce Laird 63, Greg Chappell 57; Imran Khan 2 for 30) drew with Pakistan 420 for 9 decl. (Majid Khan 110, Mudassar Nazar 59, Imran Khan 56; Ray Bright 5 for 172, Dennis Lillee 3 for 114)
(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal)