Although records show that cricket has been played on Pakistani soil since the 19 th century, it was recognised as a cricket playing nation only after it was granted test status in 1952. Since then, it has gone on to win a cricket World Cup and also produce some of the finest players the game has ever seen, such as Imran Kahn, Wasim Akram, Sarfaraz Nawaz, Saeed Anwar and many more. Pakistan has been the birthplace for not only many cricketing greats but also for contributions to different styles of bowling, such as reverse swing and the ‘doosra’ delivery.
The Pakistan cricket team is known for its enormously talented squad and also its fierce cricketing battles with neighbouring nation, India.
After establishing itself as a separate nation from India in 1947, Pakistan was soon granted test status in 1952. That same year they played their first test match against India as part of a 5 match series, which India won 2-1. Pakistan’s first tour of England was in 1954 in a series consisting of 4 matches. The first match was drawn; however, in the second match England trounced Pakistan by an innings and 129 runs. After drawing the third match, Pakistan regrouped spectacularly to squeeze a 24 run win in the final test match which was held at the Oval, thereby drawing the series. In 1955 they hosted India at Dacca as part of another 5 match series, all of which were drawn, the first time such an event had occurred in the history of cricket. By the 1960s they had played and beaten all other test playing nations at least once, sending out a clear message that they were aspiring to be a great cricketing nation.
Pakistan is one of the stronger test cricket teams in Asia. They strengthened this claim by winning the inaugural Asian Test Championships in 1998-1999, demolishing Sri Lanka in the final with an innings and a 175-run victory. At the next championship in 2001-2002 they lost to the same opponent in the final by 8 wickets. Pakistan’s most famous test matches are usually against arch rival India, when both teams are seen to raise their games to match the competitiveness between the nations. In recent 3-match test series between both teams, they have drawn in 2005, Pakistan won 1-0 in 2006 and India won 1-0 in 2007 – and so the rivalry continues.
One day cricket
Cricket World Cup
Pakistan took part in the inaugural Cricket World Cup in 1975. They lost in the first round of the tournament beating Sri Lanka, but losing to Australia, and eventual champions West Indies. They have taken part in every World Cup since then, making semi-final appearances in 1979, 1983 and 1987 but it was not until 1992 that their full potential was realised.
Captained by Imran Khan, Pakistan had a dramatic 1992 World Cup. After losses to the Windies, India and South Africa and a few no-result matches, Pakistan was in danger of being eliminated in the round robin stage. The team came back strongly to register wins against Zimbabwe, Australia and Sri Lanka to make it to the semi-final knockout stage against New Zealand. The Kiwis won the toss and elected to bat, posing a worrying total of 262. Chasing this total, Pakistan lost star batsmen, Saleem Malik and Imran Khan, cheaply. Towards the latter stages of the match they had to score nearly 8 runs an over, with Javed Miandad being given the task of seeing the team through, aided by a relatively unknown youngster, Inzamam-ul-Haq. Inzamam stood up to the challenge and scored a blistering 60 off 37 balls. After his dismissal they were still in a precarious position, needing 36 off 30. Moin Khan helped to see the team through with a six and a four. It was one of the most exciting one day matches in the history of the sport with Wasim Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed also contributing with their bowling performances.
In the final against England, Pakistan started poorly, but soon recovered and were in a good position, thanks to a 139 run partnership between the skipper Imran Khan and Javed Miandad. Inzamam blitzed a quick 42 off 35 balls and Wasim Akram dazzled the crowd with a fierce 33 off 19. Pakistan ended with 249 for 6. With a fiery spell of bowling, Akram claimed the key wicket of Ian Botham for 0 with the new ball. When he was brought back later, he delivered a fatal blow to the English batting line-up by dismissing Alan Lamb and Chris Lewis in successive balls. England never recovered, and Pakistan won the World Cup by 22 runs. It was the pinnacle of Pakistan’s cricketing history.
In the 1996 World Cup, Pakistan failed to impress with only a quarter-final appearance. In 1999, they once again made it to the World Cup final, this time against Australia. They put up a dismal performance with the bat, being bowled out for just 132 runs. Australia cruised to an 8 wicket victory. It was a disappointing performance from a team that came into the semi-finals at the top of the tables. In the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, Pakistan fared very poorly, exiting the tournament in the first round on both occasions.
Pakistan has been very successful in the Twenty20 version of the game. At the Inaugural ICC World Twenty20 held in South Africa, they emerged runners-up to rivals India. It was a fierce contest between both nations after they had both suffered early exits at the Cricket World Cup earlier that year. Both teams had a point to prove. In a final that went to the very last over, Pakistan posted a total of 152 to which India replied with 157. The popularity of the game was recognised and plans have been made for it to be incorporated into Pakistan’s domestic cricket scene.
Pakistan cricketing greats
With 3807 runs and 362 wickets in test cricket, and 3709 runs and 182 wickets in ODIs, he is considered one of the greatest all-rounders of all time. He will also be forever remembered by his countrymen for leading Pakistan, in its 1992 World Cup victory.
With 502 ODI wickets to his name, he is the highest wicket taker in this version of cricket. He also played a vital role in Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup victory, and captained the side when it made the 1999 World Cup final. He is regarded as the finest swing bowler in the history of the game, with a master class in reverse swing bowling. He has also been responsible for rescuing Pakistan on many occasions with his tight bowling spells in the final stages of a match.
One of Pakistan’s finest batsmen, Anwar holds the record for the highest score in ODI cricket, a massive 194 runs against India in 1997. He is the first batsman to score 23 successive centuries on 3 occasions in their career. Anwar possessed a wide array of shots, along with an immaculate batting technique.
With 11,739 ODI runs and over 8000 runs in test matches, Inzamam or Inzi as he is known among fans, is one of Pakistan’s most successful batsmen. He is known for his tremendous ability to bat under pressure and has also been responsible for leading Pakistan to memorable victories in the recent past. He will be remembered for his contributions in the 1992 World Cup when he almost single handedly rescued Pakistan in their semi-final match against New Zealand.