Pakistan’s first Test series win abroad

May 16, 2021

Pakistan’s impressive triumph on the 1973 tour of New Zealand was their first ever series victory. It had taken them 20 years to reach this goal and make a cherished dream come true

When Pakistan reached New Zealand in January 1973 for a three Test rubber they had yet to win a Test series abroad. History was about to be re-written.Until this series began Pakistan had played a total of 20 Test series, 10 each at home and abroad. At home they had been victorious in 4 series, had lost 3 and drawn 3. On tour, their series winning column was empty, having lost 6 series and drawn the remaining 4. These 20 series were spread over a total of 65 Tests, 28 on home soil and 37 abroad.

The New Zealand trip was the second leg of a tour that had begun with a series in Australia. Pakistan had played attacking cricket in the side games and their batsmen were in fine fettle for the Tests that were scheduled to be of four days duration each. The first Test was played at Wellington and Pakistan, led by Intikhab Alam, won the toss and batted first on a damp, clouded day. After losing two early wickets for only 26 runs, Sadiq Mohammad and Majid Khan batted solidly to take the team to 196 for 2, before rain brought the day’s play to an early end. Majid was dismissed early on the second morning, but aided by some fielding lapses, Pakistan progressed to 307 for 4 by lunch. This was followed by a collapse that saw the fall of the remaining wickets for the addition of just another 50 runs. Sadiq was the top scorer with 166 runs in a stay of just over six hours, that included 19 boundaries. Wasim Bari, the wicketkeeper received a nasty blow on the head from a bouncer by the New Zealand pacer Richard Collinge and had to retire hurt.

In reply to Pakistan’s 357, New Zealand made 325, including fifties from Brian Hastings and Mark Burgess who added 128 runs for the fourth wicket. Sarfaraz Nawaz was Pakistan’s leading wicket taker with 4 for 126.

Pakistan’s second innings again saw the loss of early wickets as Talat Ali and Zaheer Abbas were both dismissed by the time the score reached 35. Sadiq and Majid put on another rescue act, adding 94 runs for the third wicket. There were useful contributions from Wasim Raja with 41 and the captain Intikhab, who made a quick fire 53 in just 70 minutes. Pakistan declared at 290 for 6 leaving New Zealand with two hours of batting. Saleem Altaf generated some excitement by sending home the first three New Zealand batsmen for just 11 runs, before Glen Turner and Burgess halted the rot and the match petered out into a tame draw with New Zealand on 78 for 3.

This match marked the Test debut of two outstanding players. It was the famous Richard Hadlee’s first Test but he failed to impress, taking just two wickets in the match at a cost of 112 runs. It was also Wasim Hasan Raja’s first Test. He had been brought in as a replacement for Mohammad Ilyas, who was sent home for disciplinary reasons after the Australian leg of the tour, following a fracas with the Cricket Board Chairman Abdul Hafeez Kardar. Another first came in the wake of Wasim Bari’s injury, on day two of the Test, that resulted in Majid Khan keeping wickets for Pakistan for the first time.

The venue for the second Test was Dunedin. Intikhab again won the toss and elected to bat. This was the seventh successive Test in which New Zealand had lost on the flip of the coin. On a rain marred opening day Pakistan reached 107 for 2 wickets by close with Sadiq on 52 and Mushtaq on 6. What followed on the second day was run making mayhem. At 126, Sadiq was dismissed for 61, his third successive score of above fifty. Asif Iqbal now joined Mushtaq and they took the New Zealand bowlers to task. Starting cautiously, the partnership soon blossomed with both batsmen scoring freely and with abandon. They put on 350 runs for the 4th wicket in just 274 minutes. Mushtaq eventually scored 201, with his first fifty coming in 148 minutes, his next in 100 minutes, his third in just 64 minutes and his final fifty in 70 minutes. In all he was at the crease for 382 minutes, faced 408 deliveries and hit 20 fours. He also deployed the reverse sweep frequently, inviting great curiosity from New Zealand cricket experts who had never seen this stroke previously. Asif reached fifty in 124 minutes, his next fifty took 79 minutes and his third fifty just 36 minutes. Altogether he batted for 274 minutes to score 175 runs including 18 fours and a six. The pace of the partnership accelerated as it went along and the times for each 50 runs of the stand were 67, 57, 38, 38, 17, 23 and 34 minutes each respectively.

Pakistan ended the day on 507 for 6, having scored 400 runs in the course of the day. This was the highest single day’s score ever amassed by Pakistan, a record that stands till today. It had been a dazzling, virtuoso performance of superb batting and allowed Intikhab to declare overnight.

The pitch had already begun to break up and crumble while Mushtaq and Asif were batting and New Zealand found the going tough. After losing Jarvis early, Glen Turner and the captain Bevan Congdon batted steadily against the Pakistani opening attack of Saleem Altaf and Sarfaraz Nawaz, but as soon as spin was introduced New Zealand were in trouble. Intikhab, in particular, spun the ball sharply and obtained good bounce as well. The New Zealand cricket correspondent Dick Brittenden described the ball being as white and dusty as the pitch. Besides the turn and bounce, the occasional ball would also keep low and shoot through, as New Zealand collapsed from 73 for 1 to 116 for 8. The wicketkeeper Ken Wadsworth counter attacked for a while but the home team were all out for 156 in just 51.5 overs of batting. Intikhab had figures of 7 for 52 while the other leg spinner Mushtaq took 2 wickets for 15.

Following on 341 runs behind, New Zealand began well with an opening stand of 48 between Jarvis and Turner, but the introduction of the leg spinners again proved disastrous for them. They ended the day on 123 for 5, having lost 15 wickets during the day. Of these 9 had fallen to Intikhab and 5 to Mushtaq.

On the final day only Pollard offered resistance and was the last man out for a well-played 61. New Zealand were all out for 185 after an hour of play on the 4th day, losing the match by an innings and 166 runs. New Zealand had been dismissed twice in just 101.3 overs. Pakistan had won the match with four hours to spare on the fourth day, despite having lost another four hours on the opening day due to rain.

Mushtaq took 5 for 49 in the second innings and became only the second player in Test history to score a double century and take 5 wickets in the same match. This feat has not been repeated since. Intikhab took 4 for 78 in the second innings for match figures of 11 for 130. This was Intikhab’s first victory as a Test captain and came in his fourth year as the leader of the national side. For Mushtaq there was another milestone. He had been playing Test cricket for almost 14 years and this was his 30th Test match. It was, however, the first time that he had been in a winning Test side in all this time.

The third Test was played in Auckland. Pakistan won the toss yet again and opted to bat first. Majid, who scored 110, had partnerships of 104 with Mushtaq and 86 with Asif Iqbal to take Pakistan to 233 for 3. A mini collapse against accurate pace bowling from New Zealand meant that Pakistan lost 4 further wickets to close the day at 300 for 7. The next day their tailenders put up defiant resistance, adding another 102 runs in three hours to enable a first innings total of 402. Saleem Altaf made his highest test score of 53 not out in 180 minutes of resolute defence.

New Zealand responded aggressively with a century opening stand between Turner and the debutant Rodney Redmond. Redmond attacked vigorously taking 12 off Intikhab’s first over and when Majid came on to bowl he hit him for five consecutive fours. Redmond reached his fifty in 79 minutes off only 59 balls. His hundred came in just 136 minutes off 110 balls and included 19 fours. His contribution to the opening stand of 159 was 107 in merely 146 minutes. New Zealand were 180 for 2 at close of play on the second day.

Intikhab took 5 wickets for 42 runs in the pre-lunch session on the third day as New Zealand staggered to 251 for 9, still needing two runs to avoid a follow-on. Hastings was still at the crease and he now mounted an amazing rearguard attack with the last man Richard Collinge. They added 151 runs in 155 minutes before Hastings was finally bowled by Wasim Raja for 110, leaving Collinge unbeaten on 68. This was a new world record partnership for the 10th wicket, beating the previous figure of 130 set by Rhodes and Foster for England in 1903. New Zealand had equalled Pakistan’s total of 402.

Pakistan reached 73 for 3 by the end of the day’s play losing the wickets of Sadiq, Zaheer and Majid. On the final day Mushtaq made his third consecutive score of over 50 and was solid in defence. Wasim Raja attacked with his characteristic gusto, scoring 49 from 63 balls with 11 fours. Pakistan were all out for 271, leaving New Zealand with under two hours of batting. Redmond played another fluent innings of 56 that included nine hits to the fence and New Zealand were 92 for 3 when the match ended.

This was Pakistan’s first ever Test series victory abroad. It had taken them 20 years to reach this goal and make a cherished dream come true.

As a post script, Rodney Redmond who made a century and a fifty on his Test debut, never played another Test for New Zealand. He had vision problems, started using contact lenses, which he could not adjust to, and never made it back to the Test side. Pakistan’s success gave Intikhab reason to celebrate, but in his and Pakistan’s hour of victory, he received a cable from the Board President Kardar on the final day of the third Test, informing him that he had been dropped as captain for the forthcoming home series against England. Such are the vagaries of cricket.

The victories that make us wait

Have greater power to elate

And deeper messages to state

Dr Salman Faridi is a senior surgeon, poet, sports aficionado and an avid reader with a private collection of over 7000 books.

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Pakistan’s first Test series win abroad