Much has been written and spoken about Australia’s fast bowling stocks after the drawn Ashes series.
Australia and Pakistan are set to play each other in a Test series for the first time in more than four years.
With just days to go before the first Test in Dubai, let us go down memory lane and revisit five of the best Test matches played between these two countries.
1. Third Test, Sydney, 1972-73
This was the final Test of Pakistan’s first proper series in Australia – they had earlier played just a one-off Test in 1964-65. Coming into this game, Australia had already sealed the series by winning the first two matches.
On a greenish wicket, visiting captain Intikhab Alam elected to field. Australia’s top order laid a strong foundation and guided the score to a healthy 5/315. However, they lost their last five wickets for just 19 and folded for 334. Ian Redpath top-scored with 79 while Ross Edwards made 69. Sarfraz Nawaz picked up 4/53.
In reply, Pakistan slipped to 4/131 before Mushtaq Mohammed (121) and Asif Iqbal (65) added 139 for the fifth wicket. The visitors eked out a narrow lead by ending up at 360. Greg Chappell took 5/61, the only five-wicket haul of his Test career.
Pakistan’s pace duo of Nawaz (4/56) and Saleem Altaf (4/60) then rattled the Australian batting in the second innings, as the hosts crashed to 4/44 and further to 7/94 with two days still left. John Watkins and Bob Massie attempted a recovery by putting on a crucial stand of 83 for the ninth wicket, which helped the score swell to 184.
Pakistan’s target was 159 with ample time left, and were well poised to record their maiden Test win in Australia. But the moderate target proved to be tricky for the visiting batsmen, who failed to cope with the pace of Dennis Lillee and Max Walker. When Zaheer Abbas fell for 47, the score was 4/83 and the game was even.
But Walker produced a remarkable spell of swing bowling as he grabbed the last five wickets for three runs in 30 balls. He finished with 6/15 as Pakistan lost their last five for 13 to be bowled out for 106.
2. First Test, Melbourne, 1979-80
This Test was the first in a two-Test series. On the opening day, fast bowlers Rodney Hogg and Alan Hurst collected seven wickets among them to condemn Pakistan to 196. No batsman made it past the thirties and after slipping to 4/40, they were always on the back foot.
But Imran Khan (4/26) brought Pakistan back in the game by denting Australia’s top order. The hosts were bowled out for 168, giving Pakistan a narrow lead. Pakistan’s second innings was built around opener Majid Khan’s knock of 108. Helped by contributions from the middle order, they declared at 9/353 on the fourth day, setting Australia a difficult target of 382.
Australia began the final day at 2/117. At 3/128, Kim Hughes (84) joined Allan Border in the middle and the two turned the tide in their team’s favour with a fourth-wicket stand of 177. Australia needed only 77 runs with seven wickets in hand, when Sarfraz Nawaz bowled Border for 105. This triggered a sensational collapse as Nawaz proceeded to rip through the rest of the Australian battting.
In one of the greatest spells in Test history, he took 7/1 in 33 balls to leave the home crowd stunned. From 3/305, Australia were bowled out for 310 in a matter of 11 overs, with four of the last seven wickets being ducks. Nawaz returned figures of 9/86 and single-handedly guided Pakistan to a famous win. Australia drew the series by winning the second Test.
3. First Test, Karachi, 1994-95
Australia were searching for their first Test win in Pakistan in 35 years when they began this series at the fortress of Pakistani cricket – the hosts had not lost a single Test at the National Stadium.
After new captain Mark Taylor elected to bat, Australia managed to score 337, for which they were thankful to debutant Michael Bevan (82) and Steve Waugh (73), who stitched together a fifth-wicket stand of 121 to rescue their side from 95/4.
In reply, Pakistan were cruising at 1/153, at which point Saeed Anwar fell for 85 to start a middle-order collapse. The hosts were suddenly 6/181 before eventually finishing at 256. All the front-line Australian bowlers took at least two wickets each. With a cushion of 81 runs, Australia had given themselves a real chance of winning the Test.
In their second innings, the game was Australia’s to lose with the score reading 2/171 and David Boon and Mark Waugh (61) looking comfortable in the middle. But the deadly fast bowling duo of Wasim Akram (5/63) and Waqar Younis (4/69) had other ideas as they turned around the game with a fine bowling display. Wickets fell in a heap even as Boon, who finished unbeaten on 114, held up one end. Australia lost their last five wickets for 19 runs to be bowled out for 232.
Pakistan required 314 runs to win, more than anything they had ever successfully chased in a Test. Anwar (77) starred again and his composed batting led Pakistan to 3/155 at the start of the final day. An Australian victory looked likely when the score slipped to 184/7. With the score at 9/258, Mushtaq Ahmed came out to join Inzamam-ul-Haq (58*).
At this point, three main Australian bowlers were injured, with only Shane Warne (5/89) left as a threat, albeit on a turning wicket. The last pair took advantage and put on 56 off just 8.1 overs to give Pakistan a thrilling one-wicket win, in the process keeping their record in Karachi intact. Pakistan went on to win the series 1-0.
4. Second Test, Hobart, 1999-00
After clinching a 10-wicket win in the series opener, Australia look certain to lose before an amazing last-day fightback from Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist gave them a famous win. Steve Waugh inserted Pakistan in and his bowlers did not disappoint, limiting the total to 222. Opener Mohammed Wasim made an attacking 91.
In reply, Australia were in a commanding position at 1/191 with Michael Slater (97) and Langer (59) in ominous form. But Pakistan somehow conjured a comeback, guided by the wily off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq (6/46). Australia were dismissed for 246, losing their last eight wickets for just 40 runs. Trailing by just 24, Pakistan then took control of the game with a solid batting display in the second innings.
Saeed Anwar (78) took charge at the top before Inzamam-ul-Haq (118) and Ijaz Ahmed (82) put on 136 for the fourth wicket. Shane Warne (5/110) bowled impressively, but Pakistan went on to score 392. Australia needed 369 to win the Test and the series, which looked a distant dream when they fell to 5/126 on the fourth evening.
They began the final day at 5/188 and Pakistan were well on top. But the overnight batsmen Langer and Gilchrist were not deterred and went on to add a record 238 runs for the sixth wicket. While Langer made a solid 127, it was Gilchrist’s assault that jolted Pakistan.
The wicketkeeper cracked an unbeaten 149 off 163 balls – a remarkable knock given the situation. The Australians eventually reached 369/6 – then the third highest fourth innings victory chase – as Pakistan were left to rue a missed opportunity. Australia swept the series 3-0.
5. Second Test, Sydney, 2009-10
Ten years later, Pakistan were yet again at the receiving end of a brilliant Australian comeback. This Test has to be an apt example of a team snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Trailing by 1-0 in the series, Pakistan had a perfect start as Australia, after electing to bat, were shot out for just 127 on the opening day.
Mohammed Sami took three early wickets to leave the hosts 3/10, after which Mohammed Asif (6/41) took over. At one point, the score read a woeful 7/62. Pakistan replied with an opening stand of 109 between Imran Farhat (53) and Salman Butt (71) and helped by other vital contributions, ended their first innings at 333.
In their second innings, in spite of Shane Watson’s 97, Australia were reduced to 8/257 – effectively 8/51 – late on the third day and a Pakistani win was inevitable.
The hosts found their saviour in Michael Hussey, who shared an invaluable 123-run partnership with Peter Siddle. Helped by some abysmal fielding and wicketkeeping from the Pakistanis, Hussey scored an unbeaten 134 as the innings ended at 381 (Danish Kaneria 5/151).
Even then, Pakistan needed only 176 to win and had plenty of time to achieve the target. Instead, they went on the attack and eventually imploded. From 1/50, they crashed to 5/77. Umar Akmal (49) kept the visitors alive, but the last four wickets fell for just six runs as Pakistan were bowled out for 139 with Nathan Hauritz scalping 5/53. Australia won one of the most extraordinary Tests by 36 runs within four days and went on to complete a 3-0 whitewash.