Representative photo © Getty Images
Representative photo © Getty Images

Pakistan Railways defeated Dera Ismail Khan by a whopping margin of an innings and 851 runs on December 4, 1964. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the most one-sided First-Class match in the history of the game.

Dera Ismail Khan is a rather nondescript city on the bank of the Indus in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan, located 190 kilometres north-west of Multan and 320 kilometres west of Lahore. The city also found a mention in Rabindranath Tagore’s Jogin-da, where the protagonist was born in the city.

In an Ayub Trophy match of 1964-65, however, Dera Ismail Khan etched its name permanently in the annals of the sport at the Railways Moghalpura Institute Ground, Lahore. They reached an all-time low which may never be emulated, especially in an era of high scores all around.

Day One: Runs, runs, runs…

After Bashir Haider won the toss and elected to bat, the Railways openers set about plundering runs. Saeed Butt must have felt he had missed out when he was caught and bowled by Anwar Khan for 20. Railways wicket-keeper Ijaz Hussain then added a quick 244 with Javed Babar for the second wicket.

The partnership was eventually broken when Ijaz hit Fazal Matin back to the bowler for 144. Pervez Akhtar, however, continued to plunder runs with Babar, and at the end of the day, Railways had reached 415 for 2. Babar was on 195 and Akhtar on 63, and though Dera Ismail Khan were virtually ruled out of the contest, the scoring had only just begun.

Day Two: More runs

Babar reached his double-hundred soon but was bowled by Inayatullah immediately afterwards. Dera Ismail Khan had probably felt hopeful after Irshad Mirza and Rasheed Shabab had helped Akhtar add ‘only’ 73 and 49 respectively. Afaq Khan showed promise but was bowled by Anwar for 45.

Mohammad Sharif walked out to ‘rescue’ Railways from the abyss of 662 for 6. The pair ensured that no more wickets were lost that day. Railways finished the day on 825 for 6. Akhtar had already reached 301 and Sharif was on 58. Given that it was a three-day affair, it seemed only logical that Bashir would declare overnight.

Day Three: The routs

To everyone’s surprise Akhtar and Sharif walked out again. It was not until Railways had reached 910 that Bashir finally called his batsmen back. Akhtar remained unbeaten on 337 (with 35 boundaries) and Sharif on 106. Railways had scored at an incredible 5.29 runs an over. Anwar picked up 3 of the 6 wickets to fall, but at a cost of 295 from 46 overs.

It was the first 900-plus score on Pakistan soil (the score has only been surpassed by Sind, who had scored 951 for 7 against Baluchistan at Karachi in 1973-74). There were 39 extras.

Exactly why Bashir delayed the declaration is unclear. Judging by the reputation of the sides, he obviously knew his unit was the better of the two, but his confidence on his bowlers seems incredible: he was actually sure that his bowlers would win the match for him in a single day.

He turned out to be right. He opened himself and got the left-handed Afaq to bowl at the other end. Both bowled at a furious pace and simply ran through the hapless Dera Ismail Khan line-up. Batting at No. 9 Anwar was the top-scorer with 11 not out. Dera Ismail Khan were bowled out for 32 (they were 17 for 7 when Anwar had come out to bat) in 15.3 overs.

Bashir (8-5-15-2) and Afaq (7.3-4-14-7) had bowled unchanged throughout the innings. To top it all, Qaiser Khan of Dera Ismail Khan had managed to get out obstructing the field. Bashir, with his side 878 ahead, decided to play it safe and enforced the follow-on. The spectators (if there had been any) wondered: had Bashir finally lost faith in his side?

Surprisingly, he did not summon Bashir and Afaq, his successful first-innings bowlers (I tell you, Bashir’s confidence in this match will never cease to amaze me). He brought on leg-spinner Ahad Khan and left-arm spinner Nazir Khan to open bowling. This time Dera Ismail Khan wicketkeeper Jamil Ahmed played spoilsport: not only did he top-score with 10, but he also got run out, thereby depriving Ahad of a 10-for. He eventually finished with 6.3-4-7-9 while Nazir, the worst of the four, had 6-2-18-0.

Dera Ismail Khan were bowled out for 27 in 12.3 overs. They had lost the match by an innings and 851 runs — still the highest margin of defeat in First-Class cricket. It is to be noted that in each innings they had scored less than the extras they had conceded. In fact, Akhtar hit more boundaries than the number of runs Dera Ismail Khan scored in each innings.

Four Railways batsmen — Hussain, Babar, Akhtar, and Sharif — had outscored Dera Ismail Khan (both innings combined). Two bowlers — Afaq and Ahad — had each taken more wickets than their entire side had lost. It remains the most emphatic victory in the history of First-Class cricket.

What followed?

Dera Ismail Khan played another match that season, and one more in the next. Thereafter, they vanished as a First-Class side till 1983-84. They would not play First-Class cricket since 1985-86.

Brief scores:

Pakistan Railways 910 for 6 decl. (Pervez Akhtar 337*, Javed Babar 200, Ijaz Hussain 124, Mohammad Sharif 106*, Afaq Khan 45; Anwar Khan 3 for 295) beat Dera Ismail Khan 32 (Afaq Khan 7 for 14) and 27 (Ahad Khan 9 for 7) by an innings and 851 runs.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)