West Indies and Pakistan have had several classic encounters since they played their first Test series in 1958. After they played their first two series back to back, there was a 15-year-old wait before both the countries locked horns in another Test series. Their clashes became on and off for the next few years before they met for the seventh time. Pakistan toured West Indies for a three-match Test series in 1988.
While the hosts had the advantage, having won three out of the six series they had played so far, Pakistan aimed to turn the tables around. Prior to the series, the West Indians had a setback when their fast bowler Malcolm Marshall was ruled out due to an injury and their regular captain, Sir Viv Richards would also miss out because he hadn’t recovered fully from the operation for haemorrhoids.
Meanwhile, the visitors would play under their charismatic skipper Imran Khan. The first Test of the series, which was played at Georgetown, was Imran’s 31st match as Pakistan’s Test captain. On April 2, 1988, Imran and West Indian captain, Gordon Greenidge walked into the field of Bourda for the toss. Both the players had memories of their previous encounter on the same ground still fresh. It was the final day of the third Test of the 1977 series; Imran had denied Greenidge a brilliant hundred by four runs before the game had ended in a draw.
The rivalry, after 11 years, had just got bettered as both the players would lead their respective sides.
Since the pitch was newly laid and seemed to favour the batsmen, Greenidge won the toss and immediately elected to bat first. Desmond Haynes and Phil Simmons opened the batting for the West Indies. On the other hand, the Pakistani skipper, Imran, bowled the first over himself. He drew first blood quite early in the innings. He dismissed Haynes and left West Indies at 7 for 1. The hosts were in trouble when offspinner Ijaz Faqih bowled Simmons with his first delivery. Greenidge and Richie Richardson shared a 54-run stand for the third wicket.
Wasim Akram struck next and removed the West Indian captain at 95 for 3. Batting 53 balls, Greenidge had scored a mere 17 runs. Richardson then found a new partner in Gus Logie and then Carl Hooper and the three took the score to 219 for 4 by tea on the opening day. From there began a vicious spell from Imran, who went on to take five more wickets and that led to West Indies getting bowled out for 292 runs. Imran’s last five wickets were inclusive of a spell of four for 9 in three overs.
Pakistan’s first innings began on the second day. Mudassar Nazar and Rameez Raja walked out to open innings for the visitors. Nazar was on strike to face the first ball of the innings, which was bowled by West Indian pacer Patrick Patterson. The bowler made an early breakthrough with the wicket of Rameez that left Pakistan at 20 for 1. That was soon followed by the departure of the other opener, Nazar, who was dismissed by Curtly Ambrose. The duo of Shoaib Mohammad and Javed Miandad revived Pakistan’s innings with their stand of 70 runs for the third wicket. Miandad, when scored seven runs on Day two, completed 2,000 Test runs. He survived a few times before he reached the triple digits.
Miandad was caught off a no-ball when 27 and dropped by West Indian wicketkeeper Jeff Dujon when the batsman was on 87. At stumps on day 2, Miandad was on 96 and had Ijaz Ahmed at the other end. Next morning, having been on 99 for more than 30 minutes, Miandad finally raised his bat for scoring his 16th Test hundred. Miandad’s 405-minute innings was brought to an end by Patterson when he rattled the former’s stumps. Miandad had scored 114 off 235 balls and the knock included 12 boundaries. Miandad’s 114 along with a dedicated 103-ball 62 from Saleem Yousuf and 71 extra runs ensured Pakistan had a massive total on the board. After 122 overs, Pakistan were bundled out for 435 runs, in reply to West Indies’ 292.
The hosts, who were 143 runs behind, batted in the final session on Day three. It was fortunate for them that Imran Khan had suffered an infected toe which denied him from bowling more than two overs that session. However, he received antibiotics treatment that allowed Imran to bowl on the fourth day. West Indies resumed their innings from 25 for 1 after they had lost opener, Haynes, to spinner Ijaz Faqih towards the end of the previous day.
The leg-spinner, Abdul Qadir, was the first bowler that day to make a breakthrough. He dismissed the other Caribbean’s opening batsman, Simmons, and that left West Indies at 34 for 2. The hosts had added another 10 runs when Qadir struck again. This time it was Richardson became his victim, who was caught behind. After an early collapse of the top-order, skipper Greenidge and Logie’s partnership for the fourth wicket recovered West Indies’innings. Just when the hosts looked to get back into the game, Imran Khan removed both the batsmen and once again the West Indians had new batsmen at the crease, still 20 runs behind.
Besides being the pick of the bowlers for his side, he displayed smart captaincy too. His field placements and bowling changes always worked in the favour of Pakistan. One of the best decisions made by Imran was the introduction of Shoaib Mohammad after lunch on day 4. The part-time bowler’s offspin dismissed Dujon and Winston Benjamin on successive deliveries. A few overs later, Hooper was caught off Qadir’s ball. It was Imran who finished things for his side when he tricked Walsh and Patterson in back to back balls. Pakistan needed 30 runs to win and the Test ended by the tea on the fourth day.
Imran Khan, who finished the Test with figures of 11 for 121, was the obvious choice for the Player of the Match award. It was his lethal bowling that humiliated the hosts by thrashing them inside four days. Pakistan was the first team since 1978 to beat West Indies in a Test in their backyard.