On October 11, 1988, concluded a nail-biting Test between Australia and Pakistan at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium. The fixture also saw Javed Miandad reach the 7000-run mark in Test cricket and Steve Waugh, for the only time in his career, open the bowling in both innings. Karthik Parimal looks back at that eventful game.
The Pakistanis were adept at being a thorn in the flesh of the best cricket teams during the late 1980s. The mighty West Indies, too, couldn’t help but stutter against this fine concoction of players more often than not. In 1988, it was a formidable Australian side that visited Pakistan. Led by Allan Border, it boasted players the calibre of David Boon, Geoff Marsh, Steve Waugh, Bruce Reid and Dean Jones. Ian Healy, the wicketkeeper who would eventually barge his way into the list of best in the genre, made his debut during that series. Pakistan, on the other hand, was led by a street fighter in the form of Javed Miandad.
In Imran Khan’s absence, Australia were touted to edge ahead, but Miandad was shrewd enough to demand spinning turfs, for he bolstered his side with Iqbal Qasim, Abdul Qadir and Tauseef Ahmed — three frontline spinners who doused hopes of many an opposition. The Australians, however, looked insipid even before the first Test had commenced.
Miandad felt their heart wasn’t in the game, that they had just come to pass the time. Steve Waugh confirmed Australia’s lack of willingness in his autobiography Out of My Comfort Zone, saying, “A tour of Pakistan was always seen by the Australian cricketers of the ’80s as the worst tour to go on — little beer, no social life, poor hotels, dodgy food and dubious umpiring. These were the thought processes we took with us, and the moment our pessimistic expectations came to fruition in the slightest way we cocooned ourselves from the voice of reason. Instead we preferred to indulge in siege mentality and let the negativity snowball out of control.”
With that mindset, the Australians were pummelled in the first Test at Karachi by an innings and 188 runs. Having thwacked 469 in the first innings, Pakistan shot the visitors out for 165 and 116, as the three spinners made hay. The second Test at Faisalabad ended in a turgid draw, but Miandad inched closer to the 7000-run mark with yet another century. Nonetheless, it was the third fixture at Lahore that turned out to be momentous.
So near, yet so far
On what looked to be a batsman’s abode, Border chose to bat first upon winning the toss. The first day was devoid of any drama. In fact, it was bland. Boon and Marsh trudged to an 87-run partnership and it took a brilliant catch at point by Shoaib Mohammad off Saleem Jaffar to get rid of the former. Five balls later, Jones’s lean patch was further extended when he was out for a nought, leg before wicket to Tauseef. That was to be the only eventful phase of the day. Border and Marsh then added 67, but at a pace that had the Lahore crowd yawning. Marsh was eventually caught for 64, but his stay at the crease lasted 298 minutes. Stumps were called with Australia on 175 for three.
Spinners gripped the steering wheel on the second day. Border was out for a stoic 75 (193 balls, 277 minutes) and three quick scalps were bagged post lunch. It was Waugh’s relatively brisk 59 that took Australia to a total of 340 (in 158 overs). “Australian batsmen settled into an eleven-hour war of attrition against the Pakistan bowlers,” duly noted Wisden. To Miandad’s pleasure, it was the trio of Qasim, Tauseef and Qadir that inflicted damage as they were amongst wickets, yet again. “I saw it as a marriage of my mind and their bowling arms. I would set the field with great attention to detail, and tell them what I wanted them to do — where to pitch, how much to flight, when to mix in their variations — all depending on how I was reading the batsman and his reactions. These spinners were professionals of the highest calibre and complied with my plans beautifully,” Miandad recollects in his autobiography Cutting Edge.
The Pakistan openers began assertively on the third morning with Mudassar Nazar and Rameez Raja cutting and driving the opening bowlers — Bruce Reid and, surprisingly, Steve Waugh — nonchalantly. They galloped to an 80-run stand before Tim May provided the breakthrough. Thereafter, things went downhill for Pakistan. Raja was caught behind by Healy off Reid and the remaining batsmen all scampered to starts before throwing their wickets away. They were shot out for 233, but the innings was underlined by an incredible feat, etched by the magical willow of Miandad. During the course of his 94-ball 27, he reached the milestone of 7,000 runs in Test cricket.
Australia’s second outing was, in stark contrast to the first innings, lively. Marsh thwacked a quick 84 in order to give his side the best chance of pushing Pakistan under the pump, and 20-odd runs from the bats of Boon, Border and Peter Taylor saw them declare at 161 for three, thereby setting the hosts a target of 269 to get in little under a day. While heading back to the pavilion, the Pakistani batsmen had no intentions of chasing down the target. Nor did they expect to get into any sorts of tangle, for the surface was sane and their batsmen able.
In the final session of the final day, at 86 for two, the match meandered towards yet another turgid draw. However, it was the turn of the Australian spinners to wreak havoc this time around. May dismissed Miandad and, from the other end, Taylor had Saleem Malik caught behind by Healy, before having Nazar caught at slip and Saleem Yousuf at long-off. A few runs later, Qadir stepped out from the confines of his crease to hoick Taylor out, but was duly stumped by the ‘keeper. Five wickets had fallen for 45 runs and the Pakistanis were teetering at 131 for seven, staring squarely into the eyes of defeat.
Ijaz Ahmed dropped the anchor and blocked every spitting delivery that was hurled at him. He took 83 balls for his 15 runs, before Tony Dodemaide, one of the opening bowlers (the other was Steve Waugh; it was to be the only Test in which he’d open the bowling in both innings) put an end to his knock. Once he fell, Qasim took over the mantle of hanging on the straw. He batted for 78 minutes (almost 11 overs) and Pakistan, on 153 for eight, scraped through with a draw as umpires Khizer Hayat and Saleem Badar called stumps.
The Australian dressing room was sombre after failing to drive the final nail in the coffin. Nonetheless, the fight they dished out was acknowledged by the Pakistanis, for the fright had truly shaken them up. The next few limited-over series mirrored that.
Australia 340 (Allan Border 75, Geoff Marsh 64, Steve Waugh 59; Tauseef Ahmed 3 for 85, Abdul Qadir 3 for 88, Iqbal Qasim 2 for 42) and 161 for 3 (Geoff Marsh 84*; Saleem Jaffar 2 for 60) drew with Pakistan 233 (Rameez Raja 64; Bruce Reid 3 for 53, Tony Dodemaide 3 for 56, Tim May 3 for 73) and 153 for 8 (Mudassar Nazar 49; Peter Taylor 4 for 78, Tim May 3 for 39).
(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)