When Pakistan KO-ed Richards and Co

Thirty years ago this month, Wasim Akram, Imran Khan and Abdul Qadir brought down the mighty West Indies in Faisalabad

Colin Benjamin |

Abdul Qadir took 6 for 16 in the second innings in Faisalabad and a total of 18 wickets in the series against West Indies

Abdul Qadir took 6 for 16 in the second innings in Faisalabad and a total of 18 wickets in the series against West Indies © Getty Images

In the 1985 film Rocky IV, Sylvester Stallone's titular character faces the challenge of fighting Russian champion Ivan Drago in Moscow during the height of the Cold War. In cricket at the time, West Indies were Drago, a seemingly insurmountable challenge to every other team in the world. But Pakistan were one team that consistently challenged their supremacy a la Rocky Balboa.

From June 1, 1976 to March 30, 1995, West Indies played 142 Tests and lost only 19, four of these to Pakistan. Each defeat came when the series was still alive - Port-of-Spain in 1976-77, Faisalabad in 1986-87, Georgetown in 1987-88, and Karachi in 1990-91.

The Faisalabad Test, where Pakistan shockingly routed West Indies for 53 - their lowest Test score at the time - wasn't far from being a Hollywood drama itself.

"Every time we played West Indies during their invincible period, we looked at it as an opportunity to beat the best side in the world rather than sit back and be prepared for a loss and devastation," says former Pakistan batsman Rameez Raja. "We strongly felt that a win would help to raise the status of our team and players. We backed ourselves because of the talent that we had. West Indies also respected us for what we brought to the table against them - aggression."

Offspinner Tauseef Ahmed says it was the quality of Pakistan's spin bowling that often troubled West Indies.

"When we got rolled for 53 in the second innings there was a general acceptance that we had not been mentally prepared. We resolved that this would not happen again. It never did" Jeff Dujon

"We talk about power-hitting as a part of modern cricket these days, but West Indies had been playing that brand of cricket in the '80s, so beating them was always great. They struggled against spinners, especially legspinners, and we had the finest spin attack at that time."

Pakistan under Imran Khan were conscious of avoiding being whitewashed by West Indies.

"Imran Khan's leadership and encouragement lead us to believe that we could challenge West Indies," says opener Mudassar Nazar, who played two Tests of that 1986-87 series.

"While I won't say it was the greatest Test match we played in, it was one of the better ones - to overcome a great West Indies team. In a lot of ways the game was fairly even until their fourth-innings collapse."

West Indies players from the match also acknowledge Imran's role in the win.

"That was the nature of Pakistan under Imran Khan's leadership, which pretty much was an extension of his personality," says Richie Richardson, who top-scored in both innings for West Indies. "Plus with tough competitors like Javed Miandad, Abdul Qadir, Wasim Akram on the rise, they proved a tough but great refreshing competition for us."

Michael Holding and Joel Garner missed the series, which gave 23-year-old fast bowler Tony Gray a chance to break into the West Indies side. He took four wickets in the first innings to help bowl out Pakistan for 159.

"I remember the first morning of the Test," Gray said. "I was very nervous knowing that I was about to make my debut with all those legends. Malcolm Marshall was not just a tremendous fast bowler but a friend, since he was always willing to give advice.

Headlines from day four (left) and day five of the Faisalabad Test

Headlines from day four (left) and day five of the Faisalabad Test © New Strait Times, The Age

"My first Test wicket resulted from Qasim Umar being hit on the helmet and the ball deflecting onto the stumps. Overall I wasn't surprised at my performance. I had been visualising playing for West Indies since I was nine years old. Plus, I had played for Surrey in 1985 and had had a fantastic season, so playing for West Indies came as second nature to me."

Gray, who dismissed Imran for 61 in the first innings and took six wickets in the match, compares the Pakistan captain to a couple of great West Indian leaders.

"It's easy to understand why Pakistan challenged West Indies so often back then. Their cricket mirrors West Indies cricket in so many ways, with the perpetuation of natural talent on both sides, while administratively both nations have struggled historically. The influence Imran had on Pakistan is very similar to what Clive Lloyd and Frank Worrell had for us, and that can't be understated," says Gray.

West Indies wicketkeeper Jeff Dujon, who had kept to some of the greatest West Indian quicks, was impressed by Gray's bowling.

"He swung the ball with good pace and accuracy, and certainly appeared to have the tools. As time went on, I got the impression that he was what you call a confidence bowler. He went as his confidence went. I think he would have had a better career if he had more self-belief. He certainly had the physical ability."

Dujon was dismissed for a pair in Faisalabad. He says Pakistan made up for their lack of extreme pace with good swing and spin bowling.

"Pakistan were always a challenge to us. We played each other on mostly flat wickets, and they had good flat-wicket batsmen. Though they did not have the quantity of pace we had, they had quality swing bowlers and two outstanding spinners."

West Indies were not only troubled by Pakistan's spinners but also by a food-poisoning incident that affected their captain, Viv Richards.

"A few of us, including manager Jackie Hendricks, went out for Chinese food and the manager told the waiter that we wanted to take some food back for our captain. Well, he got sick and we were fine," remembers offspinner Roger Harper, who faced the first defeat of his Test career in Faisalabad.

"West Indies respected us for what we brought to the table against them - aggression" Rameez Raja

Twenty-year-old Akram, playing his ninth Test, produced the first significant all-round performance of his career - taking a six-for to keep West Indies' first-innings lead under 100 and then scoring his first Test half-century to help set them a competitive fourth-innings chase.

"It was pretty clear to us that Wasim was a player on the rise," says Dujon. "We had seen him before in the ODIs in Australia and knew he was a quality bowler who had all-round ability. He bowled beautifully and kept the pressure on with swing and good pace on a pitch which was quite flat."

Rameez recognises Wasim's performance as one that brought him out from under Imran's shadow. "Wasim was instrumental in setting up a win. Here was a star in the making. He played a crucial, gritty knock, also filled, at times, with exciting shots."

On the fourth day West Indies were set a target of 240 and they proceeded to collapse in the face of the classic Pakistani bowling duo - reverse swing and legspin; Imran and Qadir. Tauseef, Qadir's spin bowling partner in the match, wasn't even required to bowl in the second innings, such was the legspinner's mastery of the conditions.

"The fast bowler-and-legspinner combination is always delightful to watch, and they bowled extremely well," says Tauseef. "Qadir taking wickets in the second innings was mainly because West Indies had always been struggling against legspinners. So it was his day there. It still was really satisfying to see because we were about to win the match and history was about to be made, because we outclassed a world-class team."

Rameez took a diving catch at short leg off Qadir to dismiss Richards for a duck - one of four in the innings - and West Indies slipped to 19 for 4 in the chase. "On the previous ball, Viv had planted a vicious flick straight on my shin. I remember diving full length forward to an inside edge to take the catch. Viv was always a huge wicket.

"In the last innings they got an unplayable ball in every over from Qadir and in the end were blown away."

For West Indies, the defeat was a "never-again" moment. "A loss of such magnitude will naturally leave lasting memories," Dujon says. "Pakistan outplayed us throughout the Test match. They got on top of us early and never allowed us to settle.

"When we got rolled for 53 in the second innings, there was a general acceptance that we had not been mentally prepared. We resolved that this would not happen again.

"It never did. We ended up squaring the series, one we should have won. Alas, no international panel of umpires in those days."



  • POSTED BY cricketexpert on | October 14, 2016, 2:15 GMT

    Before pakistan india was standing to mighty windies , we won test series in windies won many tests against them in india and in windies also , record chase of over 400 in windies , sunil gavaskar scred so many hunderds against their mighty pacers in windies , mohinder amarnath pulled their pacers stood tall agianst them , we won world cup 1983 then we won qorld championship of cricket in aus in 1985 , sunil gavaskar did to windies what sachin did to Mighty australia in 2000s , india has always stood up to world beating teams .

  • POSTED BY Steve on | October 13, 2016, 9:02 GMT

    @STN11, accept the fact that the series was a draw. Before neutral umpires there were lots of series where the umpiring was controversial, including the series I mentioned in 1979-80 where NZ beat WI. WI felt they had the worst of the umpiring decisions, but unfortunately history still records the fact that they lost 0-1. So be it with the WI-Pak series in 1988. During the great WI era they went to Pak in 80-81, 86-87 and 90-91 and were not close to LOSING any of those series. Pak fought them hard there's no denying that, but they didn't actually come close to winning any of those series (like I said please look up the scorecards). The 1988 series was the only one which was close much to Pakistan's credit.

  • POSTED BY cricfan72646729 on | October 13, 2016, 4:42 GMT

    Great era of cricket. Though pakistan were unprodictable but they were fighter name few like Zaharer Abbas Waseem Raja etc.

  • POSTED BY Jacob on | October 13, 2016, 2:42 GMT

    When it comes to partisan fan following all logic goes down the wire! As a neutral observer, I can safely say that Pakistan played exciting cricket under Imran. And they always gave Windies a good fight.

    As for India, the only thing of note, against the rampaging Windies, is the winning of World Cup, which BTW, changed world cricket.

    India had a fantastic batting lineup, which was almost always found wanting against Windies in their prime and the awesome Imran in 1982!

  • POSTED BY talha on | October 13, 2016, 1:27 GMT

    @THIRD -SLIP. Brother lets not get into who was playing and who was not. Because Pak is one team that has always had most issues playing their best eleven. Due to injuries and internal politics. Look at their history. Secondly if WI had a young side then what about Pak?? Some of Pak greats has also retired recently like Z Abbas, Bari, Majid, Sarfaraz etc.. Pak also had youngsters like Rameez, Akram, Q Umar etc.. If Walsh was still young, then what about Akram. Was he playing his 100th test???

  • POSTED BY talha on | October 13, 2016, 0:56 GMT

    @THIRD-SLIP. Ask M Holding who watched and Viv who played the 88 series in WI. They will tell you about the umpiring in that series. Pak clearly won the 88 series in WI.

  • POSTED BY Bennett Mendes on | October 12, 2016, 22:40 GMT

    Forgotten in this article is the contribution by Salim Malik who came out to bat for the last wicket with Wasim Akram - while injured. The W.Indies, who were used to seeing batsmen leave the field injured rather than coming in to bat while injured must have been bewildered at the sight. And to rub salt, added 32 valuable runs. Did this have a bearing on their capitulation ?

  • POSTED BY Asifka0919478 on | October 12, 2016, 13:26 GMT

    I watched whole match, ball by ball as class 7 student, I had broken leg... Excitement started from very first ball. And Imran leading the team from the front. So many lbw appeals by Imran in his first spell, while grenadge and hyns unable to play in cutters. Then on 4th afternoon when he was hooked by grenadge on bouncers for 4s and I remembered 1980 series, red helmets, hooking Imran Khan... and suddenly Imran got both openers out on deep in cutters and then qadir dominated... last ball of 4th day evening and Imran got a clean bowled. What a crowed it was. So much noise

  • POSTED BY Tracey on | October 12, 2016, 12:03 GMT

    This is when West Indies played CRICKET! A story of our Great Ancestry. Today West Indies are like 'Crickets" making a lot of Noise, keeping there fans up all night, and then sending them to bed crying. Licks and depression is the order of the day.

  • POSTED BY ameenc9318853 on | October 12, 2016, 10:53 GMT

    It was a Great Achievement for Pakistan to beat WI them in home ground with the likes of Walsh,Ambrose,Bishop,Richards and many more i am sure lot of team was not able to do same,i remember the umpiring was little bias towards the home side.

  • POSTED BY Rohit on | October 12, 2016, 10:16 GMT

    I don't understand the point of this article. Clive Lloyd became captain of WI in 1974, and he toured India. The final score line was 3-2 in favor of WI. Actually, the series was tied 2-2 till the final test in Bombay. Then BCCI decided that the last test will be of six day duration so that we get a result. And India lost on the sixth day. If it weren't a six-day test, the series would have been tied 2-2. Then India traveled to WI in 1976, and till the last test series was tied 1-1. India famously chased 406 runs in Port of Spain to win the third test. Before that during 1971 tour of WI, India won the series 1-0. During that time, India was regularly beating WI. And India won the 1983 WC final by defeating mighty team of Clive Lloyd. Viv Richards still wishes that Kapil had dropped that catch in that final...

  • POSTED BY Steve on | October 12, 2016, 10:16 GMT

    Please Pakistan supporters let's be balanced in your comments. How does anyone know Pakistan were robbed in the 1988 series? Because Imran Khan said so? As far as I'm aware there's no archive coverage to check this out. Dujon was right in saying that WI should've won this series, he's taken nothing away from Pakistan. The FACT is Over ALL THREE tests they were the better side (not by a big margin but better none the less). Feel free to look up the scorecards. At the time WI were in transition. Look at their attack apart from Marshall. It was Patterson (2nd series), Gray (soon faded), Walsh (not yet the great bowler of the 90s) Harper (never became great) and Clyde Butts (only played a handfull of tests). It's a real shame those series were not over 5 tests. And btw NZ had just as good a record against WI in the Lloyd/Richards era. They actually won a home series in 1979-80 and drew one in 1986-87, although they lost in the WI in 1985.

  • POSTED BY Muhammad Ali on | October 12, 2016, 9:58 GMT

    Pakistan would have won the 1988 series in Windies by 3-0 if not for neutral umpires. It eventually ended as 1-1 draw. Why some articles in Cricinfo ended with controversies? Same goes with 1999 series against Australia when Langer was not gives out caught behind and he along with a young Gilchrist chased down 348 to win. I would suggest cricinfo to come up with an articles in which teams are denied victory by umpires from all countries, not single out Pakistan

  • POSTED BY Paul Robson on | October 12, 2016, 9:58 GMT

    It always puzzles me that Shane Warne is given the credit for the survival and renaissance of leg spinners - the person who kept the flame alive was Abdul Qadir.

  • POSTED BY J on | October 12, 2016, 9:07 GMT

    The last line of the article reveals everything.

  • POSTED BY Ashok on | October 12, 2016, 7:21 GMT

    @SHEHRYAR_ASHRAF: For that matter India consistently troubled Australia- the dominant team of that era- in the 2000s, when Pakistan won not a single test against them. The comparison is pointless. You can only judge a team with reference to the opposition it gets to face, all else is idle speculation.

  • POSTED BY Mashuq on | October 12, 2016, 7:09 GMT

    What exactly does Duj mean in saying "there was a general acceptance that we had not been mentally prepared. We resolved that this would not happen again. It never did"? 18 months later in Georgetown WI suffered a crushing 9 wicket defeat at the hands of Pakistan in another drawn series and were bowled out for 172. He must be referring to "not being mentally prepared", so the Georgetown defeat must have been wholly down to Pakistani brilliance!

  • POSTED BY Shehryar on | October 12, 2016, 5:16 GMT

    india can win all the matches against todays west indies team, but they will never have a better record against the west indies than ours. pakistan actually competed against them and won matches when the series was live home and away.

  • POSTED BY PALLAB on | October 12, 2016, 3:14 GMT

    This series was the 1st of 3 absolutely gladiatorial, titanic, jostling- for- supremacy series till '90 series in Pak.It was Imran who individually & thru sheer force of persona & will power raised the hyper-competitive stakes for Pak in these series & pushed the world-beating, marauding Caribbean's as they had never been pushed before -while inflicting whitewashes (Eng) or crushing losses on other teams (OZ, India) .He willed man-of-the series performance himself with both bat & ball in 2 of 3. As a teen was riveted & tracked these series' reports/accounts in all available periodicals in India during that era. Immy achieved all that he willed & desired during his playing career -Test series wins against India, Eng, World Cup win;but for some real dodgy umpiring in '88 series in WI, wud have won against them too.

  • POSTED BY simon on | October 12, 2016, 1:32 GMT

    Really? Jeff Dujon has forgotten that there were neutral umpires in this series? A bit of research/fact checking/editing please...

  • POSTED BY Steve on | October 11, 2016, 21:36 GMT

    Pakistan were a brilliant side under Imran Khan, but Jeff Dujon was right that never did happen again to the W Indies in that era. In the next match they bowled Pak out for 77 and won inside 3 days (not bad for a team with no outstanding spin option themselves). Dujon is also right in saying WI should've won the series as they had the better of the final game. WI also had the better of the series in 1990-91. The series in the Caribbean in 1988 was closer. It also has to be said though that throughout this series Marshall was the only consistent world class bowler WI had. This is often overlooked. Gray never amounted to anything and Walsh was up and coming. Given that West Indies showed great character to come back.

  • POSTED BY Tom on | October 11, 2016, 21:08 GMT

    That's When West Indies Invincibility was gone and they became a beatable side. Dujon complained about Umpires but forgot that Pakistan could have won many series including the famous Sobers 365 when Umpire just don't wanna give him out. The 1988 series was when they could have been whitewashed and their were close matches in 1974 and during 90's when Pakistan could have won. But these are the things of the past and should be forgotten. I believe these two teams has plenty of talent to excite the world. They have a potential to be on top if the politics not get involve in cricket. Just like African runners who are more adapted and ideally built for long distance running same is true for these nations. Only if politics get out of the way and let the cricket develop.

  • POSTED BY karimm1329628 on | October 11, 2016, 19:50 GMT

    Yes and what Dujon should also acknowledge that if there had been neutral umpires then Pakistan would surely have won the return series in the Caribbean in 1988.

  • POSTED BY subhan9231385 on | October 11, 2016, 18:11 GMT

    I watched that match on tv as a 6th grade student. remember Salim Malik batting left handed with broken arm, Qadir spinning viciously, Imran sprinting up, and batting collapse of mighty windies. true cricket.

  • POSTED BY dogbre8354238 on | October 11, 2016, 17:57 GMT

    As a little kid in Bangalore, i rememeber following this match closely. Rameez Raja, Wasim Akram, Imran ... and earlier Wasim Raja, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad ( who i hated and loved at the same time !!), Sarfraz, Wasim Bari, Asif Iqbal ... damn ... we Indians had deep respect for a host of Pakistani players.

  • POSTED BY Thomas on | October 11, 2016, 16:43 GMT

    Odd quote to finish the article "Alas, no international panel of umpires in those days."

    Well done to Pakistan here, but my observation is that both Holding and Garner missed the series. Patterson and Gray not quite the same league.

  • POSTED BY Owais on | October 11, 2016, 16:41 GMT

    I remember that match and that day's play - Qadir was unplayable. What a day of cricket.

  • POSTED BY Saeed Jan on | October 11, 2016, 16:19 GMT

    I watched the 4th day play and missed my uncle wedding. It was a great match. Waseem Batted with the talenders

  • POSTED BY Dhanyal on | October 11, 2016, 16:16 GMT

    Imran khan was a real leader, a fighter. He took a bunch of club cricketers and made them to challenge the invincible windies of that time. it's always great to read about these two teams battle in 80s. I think there must be a documentary by Espn? Thank you for the nice article.

  • POSTED BY Nigah on | October 11, 2016, 16:11 GMT

    If there was DRS in those test series Pakistan surly won few of them as well.