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Hyped series becomes a tame affair.

The 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.

The high drama, emotion packed series turned out to be a huge disappointment for the Indians. Their Pakistani counterparts in all the departments thrashed them.

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 moments.

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 exhibited.

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 wickets.

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 superb style.

It was a one-sided series. However, the next round belonged to India.

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