The invincible period of the West Indian cricket in the 1980s is still cherished as one of the greatest eras in the sport. From 1980 to 1989, the West Indies played 20 Test series and triumphed in 14, drew five and lost one, which was against New Zealand. To highlight their feat more explicitly, West Indies played 82 Tests in the 1980s and lost only eight in that stretch, won 43 and drew the rest 31 Tests. Out of those eight losses, two came against a lower-ranked Pakistan. The first loss came during the 1986-87 three-Test series. Viv Richards’ West Indies squad comprised of some of the best names in the history of their cricket – Gordon Greenidge, the captain himself, Sir Richie Richardson, Malcolm Marshall and Courtney Walsh.

A win against this side back then was considered as a massive achievement for the other teams. Richards was going to become the third skipper after Gerry Alexander and Clive Llyod to lead West Indies in a Test series in Pakistan. Prior to the Pakistan tour in 1986, West Indies had won seven Test series on a trot and Richards now would aim to become only the second West Indies skipper after Llyod to defeat Pakistan in a Test series at their backyard. You relate power hitting to modern day cricket but the invincible West Indian team had already set those standards just before the late 20th century.

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They had produced some legends in fast bowling and their batsmen were equally good players of pace. Their weakness lied against spin, especially leg spin and that’s where Pakistan took advantage in the first Test in Faisalabad on the 1986 tour.

It was Imran Khan who had the captain’s armband during the tour and under him there was no way Pakistan could put up the attitude of an underdog team. He developed the atmosphere in the dressing room such that the team looked at the home series against West Indies was a golden opportunity to defeat the best team in the world and not sit back and be prepared face catastrophic results.

Richards’ illness

Even before the Test commenced on October 24, West Indies found themselves in serious trouble. A few members of the touring party, that included offspinner Roger Harper and team manager Jackie Hendricks went out for Chinese food on the eve of the first Test Faisalabad, They asked the waiter to parcel some food for Captain Richards, who eventually fell sick eating that. The illness troubled him throughout the series.

Windies’ pacers dominate first day

Pakistan won the toss and had elected to bat first. The West Indian pace quartet – Patrick Patterson, Tony Gray, Marshall and Walsh – dominated the opening day of the Test. Marshall, who opened the bowling for West Indies, made quick breakthroughs and reduced the hosts to 19 for 3. He was on a hat-trick when he dismissed opener Mohsin Khan cheaply for a 16-ball 2 and at 12 for 1, he sent back Rameez Raja for a golden duck. Both the dismissals happened leg before wicket and those early wickets suddenly put the home side under immense pressure.

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Javed Miandad, who was among the experienced ones in the squad, fell next and became Patterson’s first victim of the day. After he struggled for five balls, the sixth one he edged for an easy catch to Dujon behind the wickets. After few overs, Qasim Umar who was known to be a fine batsman for his patience was out hit wicket off Gray’s bowling. Out of the first six batsmen in the Pakistan’s batting line-up, four were dismissed for a single digit, while the other two walked back with scores less than 30.

Imran with bat, Wasim with ball

It was the Pakistani skipper, Imran Khan, who had to step up down the order to keep the runs flow happening. When the other batsmen went apart against the famous Windies pace attack, Imran resisted it and took his side from 37 for five to 159. He found support from Salim Malik and the two put up a 50-plus stand for the sixth wicket. A Walsh snorter broke Salim’s arm just above the wrist and the injured batsman was eventually dismissed when Pakistan had only 90 runs on the board. Tauseef Ahmed then became Imran’s ally and thw two put up 39 runs for the last wicket before the captain fell to Gray and Pakistan were bowled out for 159 runs.

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A 20-year-old Wasim Akram, who was playing his 20th Test, opened the bowling for Pakistan and he had his skipper Imran from the other end. When Wasim drew first blood early in the innings, Pakistan found some confidence back after their miserable performance with the bat. On a flat track, the West Indian fast bowlers clicked which meant Imran and Wasim were capable of that too. Wasim dismissed Greenidge and by stumps on Day One, West Indies were 54 for 1 with Haynes and Richardson on the strike.

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On Day two, it took Pakistan a few overs to make a breakthrough but from there, there was no looking back for the hosts in the match. Imran Khan denied Haynes a half century when the Pakistani skipper dismissed the latter for 40. Tauseef then dismissed Richie Richardson and Jeff Dujon with successive balls before Akram swept away the tail to record his then best figures in an innings. It was a decent performance from the hosts as they managed to restrict West Indies’ lead below 100. The visitors managed a lead of only 89 runs as they were bundled out for 248 runs.  Richardson top scored with 54 runs. Akram bowled 25 overs and finished with figures of 6 for 91 and the other scalps were distributed between Imran, Qadir and Tauseef.

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At the close of play on the second day, Pakistan once again lost early wickets. The hosts still trailed 61 runs behind with three more days remaining in the Test. Mohsin Khan had Saleem Yousuf, who was sent in as the nightwatchman towards the end of the second day, when Pakistan resumed their batting on the third day. Mohsin managed to pile up 40 runs before he fell to Walsh and Saleem displayed a great show with the bat as batted for 46 overs and scored 61 runs, his maiden Test fifty. While Pakistan lost two wickets on the third day, the fact that they could add only 155 runs more did not seem like a good situation for the hosts.

Pakistan fightback, again

Down the order, Javed Miandad, held Pakistan’s innings for quite some time. Although he did not score a lot, he frustrated the West Indian attack for three long hours to get to his 30.

The turnover in Pakistan’s innings began when Wasim joined Imran at the crease. Until then, the West Indies side was well in control of the game and so far. Pakistan’s lead was 135 when he joined Imran. They added 34, and then with sixes off Marshall and Patterson, he shared a 38-runs partnership with Tauseef.

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The courageous fightback from Pakistan was about to happen. When Tauseef was dismissed at 296 for 9, against everyone’s expectations, injured Salim Malik walked out to bat with a plastered hand. He faced 14 balls and helped Wasim to add another vital 32 runs. Wasim picked six wickets in the first innings and now he had scored his maiden Test fifty – the world had witnessed the first-ever significant performance of Wasim as an all-rounder.
From there, West Indies, with four sessions remaining, needed 240 runs to win.

The famous West Indian derailment

Greenidge and Haynes, as usual, came out to open West Indies’ innings but this time it was Imran who opened Pakistan’s bowling. Haynes lasted only two balls against Imran’s pace and left his side at 5 for 1. After a few overs, Imran got rid of the second West Indian opener too and West Indies were suddenly under pressure having lost two quick wickets and were still 224 runs behind the target. West Indies had added three more runs before legspinner Abdul Qadir unleashed himself on the visitors’ weaknesses.

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Qadir removed Gomes and Richardson on two consecutive deliveries at 19 for 4. The miserable situation went to get only worse; one more run was added on the scoreboard before the umpire raised his finger again. Imran Khan had a third wicket to his name in the innings by dismissing wicketkeeper-batsman Dujon at 20 for 5. The West Indian innings turned into shambles; they lost the sixth wicket after they added three more runs any by the stumps of the fourth day, Qadir already had five wickets to his name and Pakistan were a wicket away from an incredible victory over the best team of the world.

What happened next?

Next morning, the visitors were allowed to bat for some time, as they added 10 more runs before Qadir struck for one final time in the Test, He caught and bowled Marshall to finish with six for 16 and wrapped up West Indies for their lowest-ever Test total of 53 and it still continues to remain the lowest Test total on Pakistan soils.

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It was like a “never again” moment for that invincible West Indian team. Windies wicketkeeper Dujon said after the match, ” A loss of such magnitude will naturally leave lasting memories,” says. Pakistan outplayed us throughout the Test match. They got on top of us early and never allowed us to settle.” The team had sworn to never let a moment like that happen again with them and they maintained it that series as they went on to win a Test and draw the three-Test series 1-1.

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