Imran, Miandad script a famous Test win against the mighty West Indies

Imran Khan (left) and Javed Miandad’s produce their best to mastermind a memorable Pakistan victory © Getty Images

On April 6, 1988, Pakistan handed West Indies its first defeat at home in 10 years, after Javed Miandad’s hundred and Imran Khan’s brilliance took them across the finish line at Guyana with nine wickets to spare. Karthik Parimal looks back at that eventful Test that also marked Curtly Ambrose’s debut.

The one team that gave West Indies a run for its money during its heydays was Pakistan. While most other countries were battered by the former, even at home, Pakistan held its own and seldom gave in to the dominance. As a reason, the clash between these two nations generated tremendous interest. Despite not having lost a series at home in 15 years, the West Indians were wary of the Pakistani threat. In fact, they readily admitted that it was the only side with the potential of beating them both at home and away.

The two teams showed great passion. While one was renowned for its battery of pace bowlers and first-rate batsmen, the other won hearts with its never-say-die attitude. Nevertheless, the West Indians were considered to be the undisputed kings in the Test arena, but given their tentativeness against this sub-continent nation, a six-Test battle was arranged to decide the standings. The first three games of this series were played in Pakistan in 1986-87, where the final result was 1-1. Two years later, the remainder of the fixtures were to be played at West Indies, with the first Test scheduled to begin at Guyana on April 2, 1988.

Prior to the commencement of this Test, a five-match One-Day International (ODI) series was conducted, where Pakistan were ruthlessly whitewashed. Nonetheless, they did well to not let this affect their approach towards the Tests.

‘Come on, show me what you’ve got’

The Pakistani line-up had been bolstered by the return of their country’s favourite son, Imran Khan, who, after the 1987 World Cup debacle, announced retirement rather prematurely. Nevertheless, the side was glad to have him back.

After winning the toss, West Indian skipper Gordon Greenidge opted to bat — a decision he would regret by the end of first day’s play. Imran, bowling his heart out, took seven for 80 to restrict the hosts to 292. He took the last five wickets with a spell that included four for nine in three overs. Now, it was the turn of the other department to deliver.

A mountain of expectations was placed on Javed Miandad, whose every move at the time was concentrated on by the scrutinising eyes of his detractors. His adeptness overseas was often questioned to the point where insecurities seeped into his system. As he walked out to bat with Pakistan at 57 for two, he knew he had no option but to grit it out. However, the conditions, and the vibes sent out by the bowlers, were far from friendly. A young bloke by the name of Curtly Ambrose made his debut. And, alongside Courtney Walsh, he was already proving to be a tough nut to crack. To provide support to these two were tearaway speedsters Winston Benjamin and Patrick Patterson.

From the onset, Miandad was greeted with what was, according to him, accurate short-pitched stuff and, after each delivery, the pacers would give him a cold glare. Little did they realise that they were feeding his strength. Since early days, Miandad thrived on situations that presented hostile body language and verbal duels. It was for this reason that the Australians chose not to taunt or talk much to him on the field, for he would often instigate a battle of words, upset a bowler, and then use such conditions to his advantage quite handsomely.

The West Indian bowlers were certainly on a roll, but whenever they bounced Miandad, he would taunt them for more, asking them to show what they’ve got. To Ambrose, he pointed at his chest before saying, “Try and hit me (on the ribs) and I’ll show you.” He was made to fight for every run, but the more they tried, the more he resisted.

By the end of second day’s play, Miandad remained unbeaten on 96, with Pakistan’s score at 249 for four. On the third morning, he got to his century, before being bowled by Patterson 14 runs later. The visitors finished with a lead of 143, before Imran’s brilliance, backed by Abdul Qadir’s legbreaks removed West Indies for just 172 in the second innings.  A target of 30 was then chased down nonchalantly, on April 6, 1988, with nine wickets to spare, by Pakistan.

The ‘Extra’ innings

It’s interesting to note that the highest scorer in Pakistan’s first innings, after Miandad (114), was not a batsman, or not even a bowler. A total of 71 extras were conceded by the West Indians, a then Test record (currently held by Pakistan — 76 extras — against India at Bangalore in 2007). Thirty-eight no-balls were bowled, this mainly because the speedsters, in an attempt to knock Miandad’s head off, bowled from four yards ahead of the crease line.

A victory to savour

Despite the hurdles, Pakistan emerged victorious and gained fresh respect from the cricketing world. After ten years, this was the only team that had the audacity to beat the West Indians in their own backyard. Imran’s magnificent match-figures of 11 for 121 was definitely a driving force, but had it not been for Miandad’s gritty ton that sucked hope out of the bowlers, this success wouldn’t have been guaranteed.

“That 114 at Georgetown is very dear to my heart. My memories of it are dominated by the hostile circumstances under which I made that century. It was easily the hardest hundred I have ever made. Everything about that innings was a fight, each run had been snatched with a struggle. The bowling, the attitude, the stakes, the responsibility — it had all been very tough going, but it was the kind of atmosphere I have always thrived in,” recollects Miandad in his autobiography Cutting Edge.

A series victory for Pakistan looked likely, especially as they went into the third Test at Barbados with the 1-0 lead still intact, but the hosts scraped through with two wickets to level the scale.

Brief scores: West Indies 292 (Gus Logie 80, Richie Richardson 75; Imran Khan 7 for 80) and 172 (Gordon Greenidge 43; Imran Khan 4 for 41, Abdul Qadir 3 for 66) lost to Pakistan 435 (Javed Miandad 114, Saleem Yousuf 62, Shoaib Mohammad 46; Courtney Walsh 3 for 80; Patrick Patterson 3 for 82) and 32 for 1 —  by 9 wickets.

(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 )