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The Zaheer Abbas Dossier – 4

Kamran Wasti

The English Season 1982

Plays just six matches for Gloucestershire owing to Pakistan’s tour to England, scoring 667 runs at over 60, with twin hundreds against Lancashire. One-day form though is less prolific.

Pakistan in England 1982

Is in outrageous form in the side games. After hitting three successive fifties, hammers an unbeaten 148 out of 221 scored in his presence against Derbyshire. A sparkling 147 (out of 233) follows against a Worcestershire missing Glenn Turner and Younis Ahmed. An total of 533 runs at 133.25 is sensational.

His failure in tests though is as sensational. A struggling 40 in the first innings at Birmingham is promising enough but he fails against Willis in the second innings. The 75 at Lord’s contributes to a Pakistani win but is surprisingly subdued by Zaheer’s standards. Two single figure scores at Leeds complete the misery as a return of 131 runs at 26.20 testifies especially when he was taking second-string county attacks to the cleaners.

Scores 53 and 13 in the two one-day defeats against England.

Australia in Pakistan 1982-83

Is on trial as Pakistan begin their test series against Australia at Karachi and is dropped before he has scored by Alan Border in the slips. Australians continue to field like Pakistan, dropping him three more times as he ends up top-scoring with 91 from 131 balls, a fluent, if chancy, innings full of his trademark cover drives. He adds a hundred, his first against Australia since Adelaide 1976, as Pakistan win again, going after the spinners on a flat Faisalabad wicket. With his place assured, he scores yet another 50 at Lahore for a return of 269 runs at 89.67. Things keep happening for Zaheer in the one-day series as well where he captains Pakistan to win in the first match and then scores a blistering 109 in just 95 balls in the second.

India in Pakistan 1982-83

Serves a warning to the tourists with a remarkable assault on the Indians in a side match scoring 108, 99th hundred, in just under two hours with 11 fours and 5 sixes. Building up on it in the test series, Zaheer scores 650 runs at 130.00. More so than the runs, it is the manner in which these scores are made that highlights his dominance.

Playing on dead, flat wickets, against an attack whose fastest bowler is fast-medium of Kapil Dev, he is on a rampage, going at a strike rate of 83% (5 runs an over) as Pakistanis consistently rack up high scores at lightning pace.

His 215 (off 254 balls) in the drawn first test at Lahore is his 100th first-class hundred. He follows that up with 186 (off 246 balls) at Karachi and then 168 (off 176 balls) at Faisalabad to become the first batsman in test history to play three successive innings of 150 or more.

The helplessness of the Indian attack can be gauged by the fact that although Kapil Dev has a perfectly respectable return of 24 wickets at a strike rate of 51 balls per wicket, he concedes runs at over 4 runs an over spread over six tests in the 1980s.

His performances are even more astonishing in the One-Day series where he becomes the first batsman in one-day history to hit three successive international hundreds – 118 (off 86 balls), 105 (off 82 balls) and 113 (off 99 balls). His strike rate for the series is a mind-boggling 125.

On the whole, Zaheer scores 919 runs in the tests at an average of 114.88 with 4 hundreds and 2 fifties and 486 runs at 81.00 in the one-days also with four hundreds. His test average is now 46.81 and the limited-overs one touches 50.

World Cup 1983

Is the top scorer in the 1983 World Cup in England, starting off with a run-a-ball 82 on a belter at Swansea. Richard Hadlee yorks him off-stump for a third-ball duck at Birmingham before he is the standout Pakistani batsman scoring a measured innings of 83 at Lord’s, a masterpiece that wins him the match award despite Pakistan’s defeat. He fails against Sri Lanka and England in the second leg but makes up with an efficient hundred at Nottingham where he shares a match-winning partnership with Imran Khan that helps Pakistan qualify for the semi-final. The semi-final is a complete disaster as Pakistan are blown away by the West Indies on a damp, green Oval wicket. The innings features just two boundaries in the entire 60 overs and Zaheer looks clearly the best of the batsmen until he falls to the off-spin of Larry Gomes. With 313 runs at 62.60, he is the top-scorer for Pakistan.

Pakistan in India 1983-84

Is appointed Pakistan’s test captain in Imran Khan’s absence. The rubber is drawn and Zaheer scores 156 runs at 52.00, his best innings being an unusually subdued 85 off 246 balls at Nagpur. His defensive captaincy sparks criticism with Imran Khan later referring to it as a series that would have easier to win than draw.

His one-day returns are moderate.

Pakistan in Australia 1983-84

Leads the team in Imran Khan’s absence. Pakistan are hammered by an innings at Perth and Zaheer scores a duck and 30. Scores a fluent 56 at Brisbane where Pakistan are saved by rain and is batting brilliantly at Adelaide when he throws his wicket away at Adelaide. His 44 and 50 are crucial in saving the match where Pakistanis go in with just three specialist bowlers in order to accommodate the non-bowling Imran Khan as captain. Zaheer is made to bowl 22 overs in this test. Again plays well with 61 and 33 at Sydney to cap off a consistent series – 323 runs at 40.37.

England in Pakistan 1983-84

Becomes the first captain to lead Pakistan to a series win over England. His returns as a batsman are mixed:  Suffers twin failure in the decisive first test where he falls to Botham in a planned dismissal for duck in the first innings before getting bowled by Cook. A patient 68 follows at Faisalabad as following the scare in the first test, Pakistanis play for a draw before he plays a captain’s knock at Lahore (unbeaten on 83) sharing a record 161-run stand with Sarfraz Nawaz for the ninth wicket.

Plays just the first one-day and is hit by Bob Willis on his helmet immediately after coming in to bat. Responds by tearing into the English bowling attack scoring 59 off just 37 balls as Pakistan clinch their first win in one-day internationals against England in over six years.

Asia Cup 1983-84

Scores 47 and 27 in the two defeats that Pakistan suffer and are knocked out of the tournament.

India in Pakistan 1984-85

In a tour that would ultimately be truncated because of Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Zaheer starts off with a match-winning run-a-ball 55 in the first match. This would be the only time Pakistan would win against India since the 1982-83 series until Imran Khan’s return to captaincy a year later. The second one-day was abandoned mid-way owing to aforementioned assassination.

In between, two drawn tests are played – Zaheer has time to score what would ultimately be his last international hundred. His unbeaten 168 at Lahore is one of his slowest hundreds and his eighth score of 150 or above (out of 12). Scores 26 at Faisalabad and would likely have scored more in at Karachi at the tour not been cancelled.

The English Season 1984

Plays his last county season for Gloucestershire. Although he starts his English with a dominant unbeaten 157 against Kent, Zaheer’s numbers keep going down and his final figures of 734 runs at 30.58 are his worst since his debut for the county in 1972. He is inconsistent in limited-over cricket though he does score a memorable hundred when opening the innings in his last such outing for Gloucester at Bristol. He would play just one more game in England after this summer: A one-off appearance for Gloucestershire against the touring Zimbabweans in 1985 where he would hit a quick 38 to help his team successfully chase an improbable target.

New Zealand in Pakistan 1984-85

He has good numbers in one-days including a series-clinching 73 off 62 balls in the last match. His struggles badly in tests, scoring just 93 runs in all.

Although Pakistan win both series under his captaincy, the tour is a major umpiring controversy. Zaheer does not help his credibility by quitting almost immediately after the outgoing captain Jeremy Coney threatens to even scores on Pakistan’s return trip to New Zealand.

Pakistan in New Zealand 1984-85

Lands in New Zealand late and joins the squad for the Auckland test where he has a miserable time, falling to Lance Cairns and Richard Hadlee as Pakistan crash to an innings defeat with Javed Miandad, the new captain, conceding that his team were beaten fair and square. He then leads Pakistan to draw in a side game against Wellington scoring fluent 92. The match though is only notable for a pointless altercation between Zaheer and Abdul Qadir. The latter is ordered off the field by the captain and then sent back. As it turns out, his presence might have been the difference between a 1-1 draw and the eventual 2-0 defeat after the third test at Auckland where Zaheer has another horror match, again falling to Cairns and Hadlee for 6 and a nought – a total of 24 runs in four innings is not what Pakistan needed from him.

Plays the last two one-day internationals, scoring 58, helping Pakistan to recover from three down for 22 but eventually ends on the losing side despite a memorable debut by Rameez Raja. Fails in the last match which ultimately does not proceed beyond Pakistan’s innings.

World Championship of Cricket 1984-85

Appears in the first two matches:  his 25 against India is a laboured, helpless innings as he struggles against the Indian attack. Geoff Lawson foxes him completely in the second match against Australia with a slower ball early in his innings.

Sri Lanka in Pakistan 1985-86

Gets just one innings in two tests, scoring 4 before announcing his retirement from Test Cricket but adding that he shall continue to play one-day internationals. Scores 61, 21 and 26 in the three innings that he gets at a strike rate of almost 90 but with Imran Khan returning as captain, his one-day career is also truncated.

Does not play any more first-class cricket that season and quits all senior cricket after the next season although a highlight is his appointment as Pakistan A captain to tour Zimbabwe, a tour he quits midway handing over the reins to Asif Mujtaba.

End of Part IV

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