Home > Features > Moments in history >

Imran Khan signals his arrival on world stage with six wickets in each innings at Sydney Cricket Ground

Imran Khan signalled his arrival on world stage with six wickets in each innings at the SCG

Imran Khan bowled with the kind of hostility he had never bowled before in a Test match to captured six for 102 an six for 63 to bowl Pakistan to an emphatic victory over Australia at the SCG. It was a watershed moment in Imran’s and Pakistan cricket history © Getty Images

Trailing 0-1 in a tough series against possibly the strongest contemporary Test side, Pakistan managed to pull it off, thanks to some quality hostile fast bowling from Imran Khan in a Test that ended on January 18, 1977. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at a spell that marked the beginning of Pakistan’s ascent in the world of cricket.

Australia went into the final Test 1-0 up. They had defeated Pakistan by a whopping 348 runs in the previous Test, thrashing their fast bowlers all over the huge Melbourne Cricket Ground. True, Pakistan had a fast bowler called Imran Khan, but he was scarcely fast, and had taken only 25 wickets from nine Tests at 43.52 going into the final Test – that too over a span of six years. His partner, Sarfraz Nawaz, seemed slightly more dangerous, but the duo could be dealt with. It was the spin department, led by Iqbal Qasim, which was expected to be a factor.

As a result of all these speculations, Greg Chappell surprised Mushtaq Mohammad by electing to bat on a pitch full of cracks and patches. Sarfraz bowled the first over, and when it was Imran’s turn, the openers did not seem too bothered about the “medium-pacer”.

From the very beginning Imran bowled at express pace – several yards faster than what he usually bowled – which took the Australians by complete surprise. Not only was he fast and extracted an incredible bounce off the pitch, he was extremely accurate. His in-swinger – the weapon that would become his greatest asset in the coming years – proved to be lethal. He also found movement off the pitch, and together with Sarfraz, ripped the Australians apart.

Both fast bowlers bowled with extreme hostility – something Pakistan had failed to manage earlier in the series. They had snared two wickets each, and Australia were reeling at 38 for four. Both bowlers bowled brilliantly, but Imran was definitely the more lethal of the two. He and Sarfraz had conversations after almost every over, and Imran never seemed to tire. If anything, he kept on increasing his pace as the heat increased. One should remember that these matches involved eight-ball overs, which wore out bowlers faster. However, Imran was relentless.

Chappell and Gary Cosier tried to resurrect the innings, but Imran struck again. Chappell fell as he tried to fend one, and then Imran had Cosier nick one just after he had reached his fifty. Sarfraz also kept striking, but he was not as tireless as Imran. Mushtaq used Asif Iqbal to rest Sarfraz, but he could not get the ball off Imran.

Pakistan lost their ninth wicket for 159 when Dennis Lillee and Max Walker managed to get a partnership going that took the Australian innings into the second day. It took the leg-breaks of Javed Miandad to finally break the partnership. Imran had returned figures of 26-6-102-6 (out of an innings total of 64.2 overs), and Australia were bowled out for 211. The spinners Chappell had been circumspect of had bowled 7.2 overs between them.

All of a sudden Imran was metamorphosed into a serious factor to reckon with, and the Pakistan sensed that they had a realistic chance of squaring the series. The Australians struck back, Lillee and Walker removing the top four with only 111 on the board (Lillee also famously hit Majid Khan on his head to win a bet – and the hat – from Majid), and it required a special innings to bail them out. That innings came from Asif Iqbal.

Asif had earlier scored a match-saving unbeaten 152 of the highest quality at Adelaide. It was hardly believable that someone could have an encore of a performance that good in the series, but Asif did exactly that. He put on 94 with Haroon Rasheed and 115 with Miandad, and it was his 120 that helped Pakistan take a substantial lead of 149.

There was always a hope that the Australians would fight back. The conditions were smouldering and the run-up was rock-hard; it was not easy for any fast bowler. But Imran, once again assisted by Sarfraz, lifted his levels to beyond potential. He tore down the lush-green Sydney Cricket Ground, and with every falling wicket, added an extra yard or two to his pace.

Imran bowled unchanged on the third day; he sent down 19 consecutive eight-ball overs in four hours of extreme conditions at express pace. The balls thumped into Wasim Bari’s gloves with a thwack that was clearly audible from the stands. And he broke the backbone of the Australian batting order as they collapsed to 180 for nine at stumps, despite a 62-run ninth wicket partnership between Rod Marsh and Lillee.

His aggressive bowling charged up the entire Pakistan side. Sarfraz took three wickets, just as he had done in the first innings, Bari took four catches in addition to his three in the first innings, Wasim Raja, the substitute fielder, ran out Marsh, the top-scorer with a direct hit (though not before Marsh got involved in a verbal tussle with Imran and showed him his bat, Zaheer Abbas broke both his nose and spectacles while taking a spectacular catch to dismiss Gary Gilmour. Towards the end, Imran bowled with such venom that he had to be warned by umpire Tom Brooks for bowling an excessive number of bouncers. Lillee was warned earlier in the day for bouncing by Reg Ledwidge for the same reason.

Imran removed the last wicket next morning without much ado, and finished with 19.7-3-63-6, leaving Pakistan to score 32 for what would be their first Test victory on Australian soil. The spinners, once again, bowled only seven overs between them.

Lillee took two quick wickets, but a furious assault from Majid meant that things were wrapped up quickly, and Pakistan returned home with the series drawn. After a dip in the 1960s and an involvement with the board over payments, Pakistan had finally found their groove in world cricket with this victory.

The victory came as a landmark in both Imran’s career and Pakistan cricket. From a pedestrian medium-pacer, Imran never looked back, and went on to become one of the most feared fast bowlers and possibly a contender for the greatest cricketer of all time. And Pakistan had a steady ascent, from being an ordinary side to the only team that could challenge the mighty West Indies of the 1980s on a consistent basis, and rose to even greater heights in the 1990s.

It all began with that single Test – which should simply add to the numerous reasons Pakistan cricket should be thankful to the legend.

Brief Scores: Australia 211 (Gary Cosier 50; Imran Khan 6 for 102) and 180 (Rod Marsh 41, Imran Khan 6 for 63) lost to Pakistan 360 (Asif Iqbal 120, Javed Miandad 64, Haroon Rasheed 57, Majid Khan 48; Max Walker 4 for 112) and 32 for 2 by 8 wickets.

(A hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobiac by his own admission, Abhishek Mukherjee is a statistical analyst based in Kolkata, India. He typically looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – not necessarily as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the game with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a rather steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers the sport has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks and googlies in street cricket, and blogs athttp://ovshake.blogspot.in)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Hamilton

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 72 runs

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

Amla feels Proteas more acclimatised to conditions

Pakistan eye victory as Australia reel at 59/4 at stumps on Day 4

Suresh Raina gifts Aditya Garhwal an autographed bat

Dwayne Bravo says West Indies pull-out had everybody’s consent

Bangladesh gain upper-hand over Zimbabwe at stumps on Day 1 of 1st Test

David Warner and others with records related to hundreds in consecutive Test innings

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Duleep Trophy India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand 2014 West Indies

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan considered skipping Tests

Michael Clarke: Younis Khan is one of the gentlemen of our game

Duleep Trophy 2014: Central Zone to meet South Zone in final

Pakistan eye victory as Australia reel at 59/4 at stumps on Day 4

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: David Warner admits that Australia is not scared of big targets

Younis Khan scores 26th ton to establish Pakistan record

Younis Khan becomes seventh Pakistani cricketer to score two hundreds in a Test

Virat Kohli and others with 20 ODI hundreds

David Warner and others with records related to hundreds in consecutive Test innings

Strangers, Brothers and Cricket— the English novelist CP Snow’s lasting passion for the game

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

NGOs pursue education for all

ISL 2014, 12th Match: Delhi Dynamos FC 4-1 Chennaiyin FC in Pics

Apple to merge Beats Music with iTunes next year as music sales fall 14 percent in 2014: WSJ

Michael Clarke: Younis Khan is one of the gentlemen of our game

Anil Kapoor ropes in a new director for son Harshvardhan’s next?

WTA Finals 2014: Sania Mirza and Cara Black shock Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik to secure final berth

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan considered skipping Tests

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Bigg Boss 8 day 34 highlights: Salman Khan makes fun of Sonali Raut’s kamchor behaviour, RJ Pritam Singh entertains!

How to make tamarind or imli packs for hair and skin

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here