What a Test match it was at Port of Spain on this day in 1988. An epic fightback from Pakistan denied West Indies of a victory.
Pakistan took a lead in the three-match series after winning the first Test at George Town. Imran Khan was the hero in that match. But that defeat was not taken lightly by West Indies fans and critics. Their pride as at stake and of course, their undefeated run on home soil came under threat as well.
West Indies brought back skipper Viv Richards and their pace spearhead Malcolm Marshall for the second Test, which was a must-win for them and in the end, what a Test match it turned out to be!
The hosts had no reply to Imran, Akram and Qadir
After winning the toss, Pakistan decided to put West Indies in to bat. But the Pakistani bowling attack comprising of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Abdul Qadir set jitters in the West Indian batting lineup. Imran and Akram swung the cherry while Qadir bamboozled the batters with his legbreaks and googlies. Sir Viv and Richie Richardson tried to stabilise the West Indian innings, but they could not handle the heat of Imran, Akram and Qadir. The hosts were all out for just 174. Imran and Qadir fetched four wickets, while Akram bagged two.
Malik and Yousuf fight back
The poor batting display reignited the pacers of West Indies. The pace and fury of Malcolm Marshall, Winston Benjamin, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh reduced Pakistan to 68 for 7 at one point. But in those days, Imran’s Pakistan were a bunch of cornered Tigers. They never denied to bog down easily but would counter-punch in reply.
The two Saleems of Pakistan, Malik and Yousuf, counter-punched to script a partnership of 94 runs. It injected hope and reinstilled Pakistan’s confidence. Malik scored 66 while Yousuf notched-up a crucial 39-run to help Pakistan take a lead of 20 runs.
Brutal Richards and composed Dujon
The crowd at Port of Spain witnessed a different West Indies in the second innings. The mighty Khan had West Indies reeling at 66 for 3, but the King of batsmen was in no mood to tolerate the dominance of the visitors. It took the matters very seriously and when Sir Viv is in a serious mood, it’s time to enjoy some scintillating stroke-play.
The noisy crowd at Trinidad greeted the hundred smashed by Sir Viv and in the meantime, at the other end, one man played the role of a sheet anchor to provide the perfect foil to Sir Viv’s counterattack. Jeff Dujon, the greatest Caribbean wicketkeeper ever to reign, went on to smash a hundred as well.
West Indies managed to post 391 runs. Imran picked five wickets while Qadir bagged four.
The hosts took a lead of 371 runs and Pakistan needed 372 to win in fourth innings – a stiff task against such a hostile attack.
The epic fightback from Pakistan
Pakistan’s start was cautious.
Mudassar Nazar and Ramiz Raja scripted a 60-run opening stand. Ramiz Raja, even though was always considered as a limited-overs’ expert, showed great technique and temperament to weather the storm. Pakistan’s progress was serene, but Benjamin struck gold for the hosts. He then breached Shoaib Mohammad’s defence to gift him a duck in the same over and when Marshall outclassed Ramiz, Pakistan were reeling at 67 for 3.
One of the best batsmen of the 80s, Miandad entered the scene. Such sort of challenging situations are nothing new for Miandad. Time and again, match after match, Miandad bailed out Pakistan. With a typical smile on his face, Miandad countered the heat of West Indian pacers – to the buccaneering Javed every run could be scored with a dash and with a smile on his face. Even against a very compact field, he would steal a single from nowhere.
At the other end, Miandad had the support of Malik, who back then formed the backbone of Pakistan batting lineup. He, like Miandad, relished tough challenges and could shift gears according to the demand of situation.
Pakistan ended the fourth day without further damage.
On the final day, Courtney Walsh broke the partnership of 86 runs between Malik and Miandad and then Benjamin sent Imran back to the hut for 1. The hosts were thinking of a bounce back in the series at 169 for 5.
But Miandad was a hard nut to crack and one of the masters in marshalling the young guns and tail-enders.
Ijaz Ahmed was just a youngster back then and hardly had any experience of playing against such a top quality bowling attack. But with Javed around, handling such tough situations should not be a worry for him. Javed’s advise to Ijaz was only to occupy the crease rather than losing his calm and composure.
The young Ijaz spent two and half hours at the crease and scripted a partnership of 113 runs for sixth wicket. Ijaz was out for 43. Meanwhile, Miandad notched up a fighting hundred and shut the mouth of those critics who used o say, he could not score runs in West Indies.
But Miandad’s stay was cut short by Ambrose.
At 288 for 7, West Indies were selling victory, but the gritty Yousuf had other ideas.
Yet again, Yousuf made the Caribbean pacers sweat for his wicket.
He hung around with Akram and then with Ijaz Faqih to snatch a nerve-jangling draw from the jaws of a defeat.
The last one hour at Port of Spain was nail-biting. The West Indian pacers attacked like an angry wolf, but in each over, Yousuf stood like a fort – fighting for his wicket, fighting for the respect of Pakistan.
That afternoon at Trinidad would always be regarded as one of the most precious in the history of Test cricket. So much tension, so much drama. Pakistan halted the mighty West Indies and kept their 1-0 lead intact.
Sir Viv received the man of the match award, but as a matter of fact, the hero of the day was Saleem Yousuf.