England could never figure out the mystery that was Abdul Qadir © Getty Images
England could never figure out the mystery that was Abdul Qadir © Getty Images

Rawalpindi witnessed Abdul Qadir at his best on October 13, 1987 when he triggered an astonishing collapse to snatch victory from English jaws. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at the day when England were bamboozled by the mystery of an oriental tweaker — again.

England looked in Australia’s eyes throughout the 1980s, and went hammer-in-tongs with India, losing at home and winning at their den.

They were mauled by the West Indian fast bowlers, and had an abysmal relationship with Pakistan, which reached a rock bottom during the infamous Shakoor Rana incident.

The other big issue they had with Pakistan was, of course, Abdul Qadir. Englishmen had never been comfortable against quality spinners, and they found Qadir particularly mysterious and often unplayable.

This was perhaps best exemplified by Vic Marks, who recalled: “Good Lord, he’s bowled me a full-toss. Where shall I smash it? Hang on it’s a low full-toss. Not to worry. Maybe it’s a half-volley. Oh no, it’s a length-ball and I’m groping hopelessly.”

Qadir’s numbers were significantly good against England when compared to that against other nations, especially at home. On this occasion, too, he acted as England’s bogeyman.

Pakistan, one of the favourites in the tournament, faced a tough challenge from Sri Lanka in the opening match of the tournament at Hyderabad, Sind. England, on the other hand, pulled off a humdinger against West Indies at Gujranwala, thanks to a blinder from Allan Lamb. With one victory under their belts, they moved to Rawalpindi to secure the top spot in Pool A.

Format

Career

Against England

Against other nations

Against England at home

W

Ave

W

Ave

W

Ave

W

Ave

Tests

236

32.81

82

24.99

154

36.97

61

19.56

ODIs

132

26.17

23

18.09

109

27.87

11

13.82

Seamers restrict Pakistan

No play was possible on October 12, the scheduled day of play. When play eventually resumed on the reserve day despite a sluggish outfield (Wisden called it a “mudfield”), Mike Gatting had no hesitation in putting Pakistan in. Rameez Raja was run out brilliantly by Chris Broad, but Saleem Malik and Javed Miandad batted defiantly, pushing Pakistan towards a big score.

Then DeFreitas struck, trapping Miandad leg-before (“not without a tantrum,” Wisden added). In his next over DeFreitas induced an edge to send Malik packing, though not before he had scored a solid 65. The onus was now on Ijaz Ahmed to take Pakistan close to the 250-mark.

Despite suffering from food poisoning, Imran Khan had opted to play. He hung on grimly, allowing Ijaz to put on 79 for the fifth stand before Gladstone Small bowled him. Small removed Ijaz as well for a 59-ball 59. Qadir joined Saleem Yousuf; both men went after the bowling lustily, and Pakistan finished on 239 for 7.

England defy Qadir, Qadir denies England

The English openers were cautious to begin with, but they put on 52 before Qadir ran through Graham Gooch’s defence. Broad batted along before Tauseef Ahmed bowled him. Qadir also bowled Tim Robinson, and though Gatting was bowled after his 47-ball blitz of 43, England seemed on track.

Imran’s absence with the ball had crippled Pakistan. England were left to score 34 from 24 balls. Lamb, hero of the match against West Indies, was at the crease with the reliable Derek Pringle. The ball was tossed to Qadir.

Lamb went first, trapped leg-before. John Emburey took a single, but when he and Pringle tried another tight single, Emburey was run out at the striker’s end. Paul Downton edged the second ball he faced, and Yousuf did the rest: Qadir had taken out three men in the space of one run. On a side note, Yousuf took the only catch of the innings.

Whatever chance England had of resurrecting was ruined by the run outs of Pringle and Foster. The second of these wickets brought Small, with no pretension of being a batsman whatsoever, to the crease. Had DeFreitas got the strike he might have played a shot or two, but Saleem Jaffar trapped Small leg-before first ball to put an end to things.

England had been “Qadir-d” once again.

What followed?

 – Pakistan finished at the top of Pool B with 5 wins, but were knocked out of the tournament following an 18-run defeat against Australia in the semi-final at Lahore.

– England finished runners-up in the group stage with 4 wins, and eventually finished runners-up after Australia beat them by 7 runs at Eden Gardens.

Brief scores:

Pakistan 239 for 7 in 50 overs (Saleem Malik 65, Ijaz Ahmed 59; Phil DeFreitas 3 for 42) beat England 221 (Mike Gatting 43; Abdul Qadir 4 for 31) by 18 runs.

Man of the match: Abdul Qadir.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here)