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