Cricket Pak v Aus

The relentless fight for glory

“The visit by the Australian Cricket team to Pakistan adumbrates a new era in annals of the relentless flight for glory between two spirited rivals and enables a whole new generation of fans to watch it in person for the very first time ever”

When two teams have an indomitable fighting spirit and are bestowed with the most gallant and artful cricketers, then it is expected that the contest between them would be feisty and combative. The rivalry between Pakistan and Australia has always been a relentless fight for glory. 

The matches played in Pakistan and Australia have been both fascinating and intriguing at the same time. It is wonderful that Australian cricketers would be playing in Pakistan for the aptly named Benaud-Qadir trophy, after an almost epochal gap of 24 years since their last tour in 1998.

.@babarazam258 and @patcummins30 are super excited for the Rawalpindi Test and have their sights on the Benaud-Qadir Trophy.
#BoysReadyHain #PAKvAUS

— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) March 2, 2022

The gap was due to the unfortunate events that unfolded on the 8th of May, 2002 in the bustling city of Karachi.

A car bomb exploded next to a bus just outside the Pearl-Continental Hotel, where the touring New Zealand Cricket team was staying. Eleven foreigners lost their lives and the New Zealand tour was immediately cancelled. The security situation was alarming and the lights went out for tours by foreign teams to Pakistan. This deplorable act of violence robbed the country of many years of wonderful cricket. The proposed Australian tour to Pakistan in 2002-03 was held partly in Sri Lanka and  UAE. It has been that way to date.

As we delve into the past to understand the significance of a Pakistan-Australia contest, we learn that Australia first toured the fledgling yet formidable cricketing nation, Pakistan in 1956. They played a one-off test at Karachi and Pakistan incredibly won the match by 9 wickets. Fazal Mahmood in a spellbinding exposition of seam bowling took 13 wickets to bamboozle the Aussies. 

Arrived in ??

— Steve Smith (@stevesmith49) February 27, 2022

The stunned Australian team, under their brilliant captain Richie Benaud, planned their reparation in right earnest. Before their second tour in 1959, they inured to the Pakistani ground conditions on similar makeshift matting pitches in Brisbane. The result was an emphatic triumph for the Aussies.

Pakistan were vanquished 0-2 in the series due to the spectacular efforts of Richie Benaud, Ken Mckay and Lindsay Kline. The relentless fight for glory had well and truly begun. 

Australia toured Pakistan in 1964 for a solitary test which was drawn, but the dark clouds of war were already on the horizon. The Indo – Pak wars of 1965 and 1971 brought a long-and-unwanted interlude in the Cricket contests in Pakistan. The atmosphere was not conducive for playing cricket and between the years 1965 and 1972, England was the only team that played a solitary series in Pakistan. There were no neutral venues in those days, where Pakistan could play their home games against Australia. This was probably the harbinger of more adverse conditions to come years later. 

Prep done. Let’s play! #PAKvsAUS

— Steve Smith (@stevesmith49) March 3, 2022

In the 1970s, the contests between the two nations were primarily held in Australia. Pakistan won their first-ever test on Australian soil in 1976-77. The Australians powered by the genius of Dennis Lillee were formidable opponents. However, the emergence of Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz heralded a new dawn in the ascendancy of Pakistani cricket. Pace bowling was the key element in this series.

Both teams fought hard and no quarter was given easily. The series ended at 1-1. Honours were even on the subsequent Pakistan tour to Australia in 1979, which too was drawn 1-1. 

Australia toured Pakistan after an incredibly long gap of 16 years in 1980. The “Packer years” were over and Greg Chappell, on his return to the Australian team, was named as the captain.  Pakistan was led by a young captain, the indefatigable Javed Miandad.

There was happiness and great anticipation all around.

No practice today due to rain in Rawalpindi
For now enjoy Babar Azam practicing in the Test mode

— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) March 3, 2022

However, the pitches for the series were flat and unresponsive. Pakistan won the first test on the back of the efforts of their spinners, Iqbal Qasim and Tauseef Ahmed, while the other two matches meandered to dreary draws. This series helped bring back the Aussies to Pakistan after many years and hence holds utmost significance in the cricketing relations between the two countries. It was also the start of an unbeaten string for Pakistan against Australia at home.

Pakistan swept the 1982-83 series 3-0.

It then went on to win the 1988-89 series with a margin of 1-0. Australia just could not find the wherewithal to beat Pakistan at home. However, Australia did come very close to clinching a win at Karachi in 1994. In that test, Pakistan had conceded a lead of 81 runs in the first innings but the dynamic duo of the Ws, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, bowled Australia out cheaply to set a target of 315 runs for the Pakistani batsmen.

Interesting that Pakistan had the marble slab out for training at Pindi. I’ve seen it used in the nets before in Australia and they’ve taken it to SA. I’m told it weighs around 25kgs! Maybe expecting some bounce and skid? #PAKvAUS

— Melinda Farrell (@melindafarrell) March 2, 2022

The southpaw Saeed Anwar spearheaded their effort with 77 runs and Pakistan managed to reach the target with only 1 wicket in hand. The Cricket was of the highest quality and both the teams fought hard and assiduously to seek victory. This test match was the archetypal contest between the two forbidding opponents. Pakistan won the series 1-0 to maintain their winning streak at home. 

As we are aware, the last time Australia toured Pakistan was in 1998. The first test of the series at Rawalpindi was keenly contested.

A masterful innings of 157 runs from Steve Waugh tilted the balance for Australia and they recorded their first test win on Pakistani soil in 39 years. It was a win to savour and Australia went a step further and won the series 1-0. The highlight of the series was a herculean triple century from captain Mark Taylor, who declared the innings closed when he was unbeaten on the score of 334 runs, which ironically was Donald Bradman’s highest test score in his glittering career. 

Fawad Alam practices facing left arm pace in anticipation of Mitchell Starc spells. And he’s kindly looking out for any journos in the firing line. Good thing the net is there! #PAKvAUS

— Melinda Farrell (@melindafarrell) March 2, 2022

In the aftermath of the Karachi bombing at the inception of the new millennium, the Pakistan Cricket Board was forced to host its subsequent matches against Australia at neutral venues like Sri Lanka, UAE and even in England.

As the years rolled by, things seemed to look better and the green shoots of peace appeared in Pakistan. Cricket teams from India, England and Sri Lanka visited the country to play. 

Australia too was scheduled to play a test series in 2009.

Captains unveil the Benaud-Qadir Trophy#BoysReadyHain #PAKvAUS

— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) March 2, 2022

However, on the fateful day of March 3rd, 2009 in Lahore, a dozen gun-wielding assailants mercilessly fired upon a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricketers near the Gaddafi Stadium.

A number of the Sri Lankan cricketers were injured and many security personnel lost their lives. It was an attack aimed at the very heart of Cricket and shocked the entire world. This frightful event brought International Cricket to a standstill in Pakistan. It would take almost a decade before teams would visit again.  

As time went by and peace returned yet again, Cricket teams from Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and South Africa have toured Pakistan. Now we eagerly await to watch the series between Australia and Pakistan. It is heartening to hear the incumbent Australian captain, Pat Cummins, say that he feels incredibly safe in Pakistan. It will help allay the fears and ameliorate the wounds in the minds of the Cricketers and the fans alike.

The visit by the Australian Cricket team to Pakistan adumbrates a new era in the annals of the relentless flight for glory between two spirited rivals and enables a whole new generation of fans to watch it in person for the very first time ever.