Imran Khan’s Pakistan were all set to create history in West Indies, but it was not to be…..
When Pakistan toured West Indies in 1988 for a three-Test series, it was no less than a dream contest: the mighty West Indians were up against a powerful Pakistan with a tough captain Imran Khan, who had come out of retirement on request from the President of Pakistan, General Zia-ul-Haq with additional added pressure from the public. Pakistan were 1-0 up and they were a win or a draw away from scripting history books in the Caribbean as the hosts had lost a Test series at home since 1972-73. Going into the final Test in Barbados, the Pakistan players could feel that the opposition captain, Viv Richards was feeling the pinch because he hadn’ lost a series as captain and was closing to that unwanted record.
Although Pakistan began their tour by suffering a whitewash of 5-0 in the limited-overs series, they certainly were not going to give up. “There was no mental block just because we were playing the mighty West Indies on their home soil. We kept telling ourselves that we were the best, and the results backed us up going into the last Test,” Rameej Raja, who was a part of that Pakistan team, said in an interview later on.
Pakistan’s reply on a green-top
Apparently, the West Indians had threatened to prepare a green-top for the final Test at Kensington Oval and Pakistan exactly saw that when they arrived at the venue. Viv Richards won the toss and put Pakistan to bat first. West Indian spearhead Malcolm Marshall took no time to get into his zone as he shot two bouncers across Raja’s head but that intimidation was not going to affect the visitors. Even though they were 1-0 up and they needed only a draw, Imran Khan’s side had decided to go all out scoring runs and not being defensive with their methods.
Curtley Ambrose drew first blood as they dismissed opener Mudassar Nazar for 18 runs and left Pakistan at 46 for 1 and that dismissal brought in Shoaib Mohammad to join Raja in the middle. The duo played their shots freely and brought up a 50-run stand for the second wicket. They added another three runs to the partnership before Winston Benjamin made Raja his first victim of the day. Throughout their innings, Pakistan were never balanced. They were at two extremes; either batted well or carelessly. Following the half-centuries from Raja and Mohammad, no other batsman reached the 50-run mark. Amer at No. 6 was the next best batsman, who scored 32 off 69 balls.
Pakistan needed the eighth-wicket partnership of 67 between Salim Yousuf and Wasim Akram to ensure that earlier good work by Raja, Mohammad and Aamer was not wasted. The pair of Salim and Wasim put up 50 runs in five overs before Salim in an attempt to hook a ball from Marshall only managed to deflect the ball on to his face, breaking his nose in two places. Marshall followed that up with two wickets to end Pakistan’s innings at 309 in 74.4 overs as Abdul Qadir became his 250th Test wicket.
The West Indian fightback
Since the wicketkeeper-batsman Salim was injured, Aamer Malik kept wickets in both the innings for Pakistan. On second day’s morning, West Indies commenced their first innings of batting and they made a poor start. West Indies lost Gordon Greenidge at 18 for 1 and two runs later, Richie Richardson was gone too.
The wickets were picked by Imran Khan and Wasim Akram respectively. Then Carl Hooper stuck around for 127 minutes scoring a fighting 54, Desmond Haynes grafted for 286 minutes for his 48, and Richards smashed 67 from 80 balls, his fifty coming from 51 balls. West Indies were cruising along before Mudassar Nazar got Haynes and Gus Logie off successive balls.
Then came the spectacular ninth-wicket stand between Marshall and Benjamin of 58 at almost a run a minute. Marshall’s 48 from 62 balls consisted of a 6 and six fours as West Indies ended their innings with just three runs behind Pakistan.
Pakistan give West Indies a challenging target
By the time stumps of third day arrived, Pakistan had lost six wickets with some 170-odd runs on the board in their second innings. On the fourth morning, Salim, who had broken his nose, along with skipper Imran Khan did the repair work and Pakistan set West Indies a target of 266 runs. When West Indies’ final innings went underway, Pakistan were as positive as never. After batting for almost 200 minutes, Imran Khan split the bowling task between Wasim and Qadir and he himself hardly bowled.
By the close of play of Day four, West Indies had lost Haynes, Greenidge, Richardson, Hooper and Logie and they further needed 112. On the final morning, when Ambrose, the night-watchman, and Richards fell in the first 35 minutes, and Marshall was lbw to Wasim, a historic victory looked in the hands of Pakistan.
Poor umpiring dashed Imran’s dreams
“Just after Richards’ wicket, I had Marshall plumb lbw on the back foot to a flipper, but the umpire turned down the appeal,” Abdul Qadir remembered the moments of Barbados Test later on. Wasim Akram soon trapped Marshall leg before wicket and from there, Pakistan only needed to check Dujon, who was trying to build a partnership with Benjamin. Imran Khan’s Pakistan would have been successful if it was not for the poor umpiring that spoilt their chances at the end.
Things got worsened on the final morning in Kensington Oval when a 21-year-old spectator, Albert Auguste made derogatory remarks to Qadir after the latter’s appeals against Dujon and Benjamin were turned down by umpire Archer. Qadir then punched the young spectator. The leg-spinner later received a summons from the police, but with the matter being decided out of court for a settlement of $US1,000, Auguste did not press charges against tourist player.
After the match ended, one of the umpires later admitted that fear of what the locals might do to him played a part in some of the decisions.
Just when Pakistan thought they were going to become the first team from their country to win a Test series on the Caribbean soils, their dreams were thrashed by the match-winning stand of 61 between Dujon and Benjamin, who came together at the crease when West Indies were at 207 for eight and were still 59 runs away from a win. Their unbeaten ninth-wicket stand enabled West Indies to square the series half an hour after lunch on the final day and allowed Viv Richards to remain the West Indian captain who had not lost a Test series at home as the captain.