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HISTORY

1979-80 - A SERIES OF GLORIOUS UNCERTAINTIES !!!!!

In their own backyard, Pakistan had proved that they were lions (in the 1978-79 series). Practically the same team arrived in India a year later with a halo of invincibility around them. They believed they could beat India in their own den. Such was the impact of the previous series on the Indians that Sunil Gavaskar, captain of the home team, was prompted to say that his side would be 'beaten to pulp'. It turned out to be a ruse. The series was an absolute nightmare for the Pakistanis!



Asif Iqbal, the losing captain in 1979-80[2].

The reasons for Pakistani failure were many. But the major one was the failure of the Pakistani batting. The same batting line-up that had massacred the Indian attack a year earlier was a pale shadow of itself. Zaheer Abbas, who had single-handedly destroyed the Indian attack in 1978-79, was a virtual non-entity in India. He was so hopelessly out of form that he was dropped for the final Test! His desperation grew to such an extent that he started believing someone had cast an evil spell on him. Added to this was the back-muscle problem developed by Imran Khan, the absence of Sarfraz Nawaz who did not get along with the skipper Asif Iqbal, and the paucity of quality reserves in the Pakistani camp.

The Pakistanis found it difficult to cope with the on-field problems, and were burdened with off-the-field controversies. After the defeat in the third and fifth Tests of the six-match series, the people back home were incensed. A defeat at the hands of the Indians was unthinkable. The media did the visitors no favours and in fact added fuel to the fire. The Pakistani players were accused of 'selling' away the matches, indulging in avoidable nocturnal activities, etc, etc, etc.


The Indian batting lived up to its potential with the batsmen succeeding even in pressure-cooker situations. All the top line batsmen delivered. This was the difference between the two sides.

The first test played in Banglore ended in a tame draw after it was hit by bad weather. A fighting century by Mudassar Nazar (126) and good knocks by Miandad (76), Gavaskar (88), Viswanath (73) and Yashpal Sharma (62 on debut) were the highlights.

Pakistan were lucky to escape with a draw in the second Test at Delhi. It was a match of fluctuating fortunes. In the first innings, Pakistan managed to score 273, with Wasim Bari scoring 97. He was ably supported by Asif Iqbal (64). India were skittled out for a meagre 126 in reply. Medium-pacer Sikander Bakht rocked the Indians with an accurate and mean display of bowling that yielded him figures of 8-69. The Indian batting was exposed in conditions ideal for seam bowling. Imran Khan was unable to bowl after only 7.3 overs. Pakistan scored 242 in the second innings and set India a target of 389. With a little more aggressive batting, India could have sealed the match. They managed to score 364-6, finishing 25 short of the target. Dilip Vengsarkar scored an excellent 146.

Imran's pain intensified in the third Test at Mumbai. He was diagnosed to have a muscle rupture. He wanted to stay back in Delhi to undergo treatment, but his captain forced him to travel along with the team to Pune, from where they were to proceed to Mumbai for the Test. As a result, he did not get sufficient time to treat the injury. The Mumbai wicket was underprepared, and India's winning the toss turned the tables in the hosts' favour. The Pakistanis found it extremely difficult to cope with the Indian spinners on the fifth-day wearing track. Pakistan lost and projected their weaknesses on the pitch. Imran's injury rubbed salt in their wounds.

India notched up 334 in the first innings, with everybody contributing to the total. Pakistan were bundled out for 173. All the Indian bowlers were among the wickets. Pakistan bundled out India for only 160 in the second innings, but the cushion of the first-innings lead (161) was too heavy for Pakistan to handle. Chasing 322 for victory, they were bowled out for 190.

In the fourth Test at Kanpur, Pakistan got a sizable lead of 87 runs in the first innings, but India managed to save the game with a better show in the second innings.



The heroes of 1979-80[2].

India sealed the outcome of the series with a win in the fifth Test at Chennai. Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat first. They managed 272, and India replied emphatically, scoring 430, riding on Gavaskar's 166 and Kapil Dev's 84. Pakistan's second innings proceeded from bad to worse. They managed 233. India won by ten wickets.

As stated above, Zaheer Abbas was left out of the side for the sixth and final Test at Kolkata, after dismal performances in the first five. India won the toss and decided to bat. Imran Khan, fully fit for the first time in the series, was running purposefully, and he reduced India to 99 for 4. Youngsters Sandeep Patil and Yashpal Sharma retrieved the situation, and India totaled 331 in the first innings. Pakistan surprised one and all by declaring at 272 for 4, 59 runs behind the Indian score, the reason probably being the throat infection that had confined Gavaskar to bed. They thought that it was their best chance to put pressure on the hosts and snatch a consolation win. India was in trouble at 92 for 6, and finised with 205. Imran took 5-63. Pakistan were left with a target of 265 in 285 minutes. They tried to score at a brisk pace, but gave up hope at the fall of Asif Iqbal's wicket.


As far as India was concerned, the 19 year-old Kapil Dev was termed the find of the series and the most exciting prospect Indian cricket had seen after Gavaskar himself. The 2-0 triumph in 1979-80 remained India's last Test series win over Pakistan until Sourav Ganguly's team won a series a quarter of a century later.


- By SP Bhatia   

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3 cricketPakistan 111
4 EnglandEngland 108
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RANK TEAM POINTS
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2 new ZealandNew Zealand 113
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5 EnglandEngland 106
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8 countryWest Indies 94
9 cricket Pakistan 87
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RANK TEAM POINTS
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2 IndiaIndia 128
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4 AfricaSouth Africa 119
5 EnglandEngland 116
6 AustraliaAustralia 110
7 Pakistan Pakistan 104
8 sri LankaSri Lanka 96
9 AfghanistanAfghanistan 78
10 BangladeshBangladesh 74

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