Hyped series becomes a tame affair.
1978-79 Indo-Pak series was like raindrops in
barren land. It came after a gap of 18 years as a
treat to the cricket fans of both countries. The
previous series had brought back the frightening
memories of Partition. But this series had a
different feel to it. Time, it is said, is the
biggest healer. As the wounds of the two wars began
to heal, the boards of the two countries started
contemplating resumption of cricketing ties. In
spite of the keenness, the boards were not
empowered to go ahead with the series without
Government clearance. Eventually, a three-test tour
of the Indian team to Pakistan was arranged from
mid-October to mid-November in 1978.
The long wait for the game had fired up the players
and intensified their urge to succeed against each
other. Such was the desperation that it is believed
that the top Pakistani players playing county
cricket in England requested Imran Khan not to bowl
bouncers at them. They did not want to get injured
before the series against India!
This series had been hyped as the most happening
thing in world cricket.
Javed Miandad - The wily old fox.
drama, emotion packed series turned out to be a
huge disappointment for the Indians. Their
Pakistani counterparts in all the departments
Pakistani batsmen, led by the indomitable Zaheer
Abbas, scored tons of runs. Sunil Gavaskar was the
lone soldier to battle relentlessly for India
against the Pakistani pace battery. Other high
profile players, who were expected to do well,
failed miserably. This one-man show instead of a
team effort was responsible for an Indian failure.
The same pattern was visible in the bowling
department. Bishan Bedi was merely a shadow of the
great witty bowler that he was, and Chandrasekhar
and Prasanna also failed to showcase their talents.
This failure was magnified due to the ability of
the Pakistani bowlers to make inroads into the
Indian batting with relative ease and at crucial
While all the bowlers in the Indian camp were
exposed, there was an 18 year-old rookie who
displayed a fine mixture of speed, accuracy, and
seam movement along with glimpses of his batting
talent- Kapil Dev.
The first test began on 16th October on a dead,
lifeless pitch at Faisalabad. Mushtaq Mohammad won
the toss and chose to bat first. This was the
beginning of the leather-hunt for India. Pakistan
amassed a massive 503, with Zaheer Abbas (176) and
Miandad (154 not out) scoring epic centuries.
Zaheer was in the form of his life. Each ball met
the bat precisely in the middle, the timing being
exquisite. Miandad on the other hand displayed a
'power' game. He lacked the grace that Zaheer
In reply, India started on a bright note. As usual
Gavaskar played the role of laying the foundation
stone and Vishwanath and others embellishing the
structure. Gavaskar made a steady 89, Viswanath a
brilliant 145 and Vengsarkar a 'supporting' 83.
India declared at 462 for 9.
In the second innings again India failed to contain
Zaheer who made an enthralling 96 supported by Asif
Iqbal, who was lucky to reach his century, thanks
to two missed chances. They declared the innings at
264 for 4 with a lead of 305. In reply India
finished the test at 43 for no loss. The first test
of the high profile series ended in a tame draw.
In the second Test at Gaddafi stadium, Lahore,
India were thrashed by eight wickets. The victory
was achieved in the 12th mandatory over. This time,
the pitch was different. It was green, and the mist
in the mornings made the pitch conducive for swing
bowling. Mushtaq's luck with the coin held and he
put India in to bat. The Indian batsmen fumbled and
faltered against the Pakistani pace attack and were
restricted for 199. Only Vengsarkar could face
Imran and co. with grit and made a fighting 76.
Amarnath was hit by a rising Imran delivery when he
was set to give company to Vengsarkar.
Pakistan replied with an astonishing 539 for 6
declared. Zaheer had a profound influence on the
match. He scored an impeccable 235 not out that
took the fight out of the Indians.
India showed some grit in the second innings and
scored 465 with the entire top-order firing.
However, it was not enough. Pakistan required 128
to win, which they duly scored for the loss of two
India also lost the third Test at Karachi, this one
with only seven balls to spare! The strip was a
strange one with the ball keeping low at one end
and an overall uneven bounce. Third time lucky,
Bedi won the toss and chose to bat.
This was Gavaskar's match but Pakistan's Test. He
scored brilliant centuries in both innings but
failed to save India the blushes of losing the test
and thus the rubber.
In the first innings India managed 344 with the
help of Gavaskar's 111 and Kapil Dev's 59. As
expected, Pakistan's reply was stronger. They
scored 481 for 9. This time Miandad was the major
contributor with 100.
India managed only 300 in the second innings and
set Pakistan a target of 165. It was overhauled in
It was a one-sided series. However, the next round
belonged to India.