Cricket between Australia and Pakistan has its own character; its own oddity. Throughout the cricket history between the two nations, Pakistan has thrown up challenges to Australia, both home and away and on neutral venues that very few teams have posed to them.
The Green Caps have come out of an abysmal performance and dominated the Aussies the next game if not the next innings. Or sadly, vice versa.
Ian Chappell once named them ‘Panikstan’ after they lost the 1972-73 series 0-3 when the Australia captain in that series felt they could have won it 2-1. In the third and final Test, they had Australia 94-7 in the second innings at end of the third day after leading in the first innings. Eventually chasing 159 and being 48-2 at end of the fourth day, Chappell said he heard they were afraid of losing! That they eventually did by 52 runs led to his famous quip as in the 2nd Test also they were chasing 292 to win after posting 574-8 declared in the first innings and were bowled out for 200 after being 80-2.
As if to compensate, four years later, the Pakistan team would eventually secure their first-ever Test victory on Australia soil on the same ground where they had come so close, with SCG being the site of one of two big victories to follow in 1981 and 1996.
The history of contests between the two are therefore rich in drama as if scripted by the gods. Often the Pakistanis have held their nerve, which has so often their miscarriage at the moment of pregnant glory. And delivered safely the thrill of victory.
In fact, a series in Australia has often brought out the best in Pakistan though mostly near or at the end of the tour, and it is only true Aussie grit that has become Pakistan’s nemesis on many an end game. Cricketers of both nations play under the green caps and are proud combatants even though over the last 26 years, the Pakistanis have succumbed to continuous defeats, losing each and every Test played in Australia starting from the 1999 series; 18 in all.
Still, the present-day Pakistani fan may not know that Pakistan has as many as 15 Test victories against Australia as against 33 losses.
Pakistan’s best days against the Aussies were in the 1977 to 1982 period when they won seven of the 12 Tests (which included four in a row), extending from the 1981 Sydney Test to the Lahore Test in November 1982 which was the scene of a 3-0 whitewashing at home, Pakistan winning by big margins each time.
Pakistan won again at home in the 1988-89 series and then came that near-impossible triumph at Karachi in 1994 and a last-ditch win (though by an innings) on the 1995-96 tour. This was followed by 15 years in the wilderness until a nail-biting three-wicket win in neutral England in 2010, which came after 13 consecutive defeats.
However, cold stats hide the fact as to how close Pakistan came during these times to uprooting the toughest Australia sides before they eventually lost. At Hobart, Australia were 126-5 requiring 368 to win; at Colombo in 2002, Pakistan were 230-4 at one stage chasing 316 and then at Sydney in 2005, they got weak knees in.
However, to reflect on the positive memories, I’ve laid out here the hard-earned victories by Pakistan against Australia.
Only Test, Karachi, October 1956
Australia (led by Richie Benaud and including Keith Miller) stopped over for a solitary Test on the way back from an Ashes series in England. Among the spectators for a brief while was the US President General Dwight Eisenhower who was on a state visit to Pakistan.
Having been rounded up a few weeks earlier by Jim Laker at Old Trafford, they were this time shot out for 80 on a matting pitch by the pair of Fazal Mahmood and Khan Mohammad, who bowled all the 53.1 overs. Pakistan then put up 199 despite being 70-5, as Wazir Mohammad (67) and Kardar (69) added 104. Fazal and Khan again took all 10 in Australia’s second innings as they finished only 68 ahead.
The frustration of a packed crowd then followed as Alimuddin, Hanif and Gul Mohammad spend well over 160 minutes to get to only 63-1 by day’s end. So boisterous became the spectators at the snail’s pace that Alimuddin went towards the stands to offer his bat to the crowd in disgust. A further ignominy was that what would have been the final day was falling on the fifth death anniversary of Pakistan’s former premier, Liaquat Ali Khan, which was thereby declared a rest day. The last day was therefore played out the day after for the six more runs needed!
Third Test, Sydney, January 1977
Pakistan entered this Test stinging from a 348-run defeat in the second fixture in Melbourne. Mushtaq dropped a paceman to go in with an extra batsman and went in with only two fast bowlers on a green top. It was a daring, even audacious move but paid off handsomely as Imran (6-102) and Sarfraz (3-42) bowled out Australia for 211.
As Pakistan slumped to 111-4 the other gamble began to pay off as well. Haroon Rasheed (57) making his Test debut then added 94 with Asif Iqbal who then paired with Javed Miandad (64) for another 115 runs. Pakistan finished with a 149-run lead as Asif finished on 120.
Imran (6-62) and Sarfraz (3-77) again demolished Australia in the second innings and with some 30-odd to get, Majid Khan saw off a Dennis Lillee cameo. Pakistan had, at last, gained their first-ever Test victory in Australia on their third visit, drawing the series in the process.
At the post-match ceremony, he gifted Lillee his fading yellow farmer’s hat that he had at the start of the series challenged the Australia speedster to knock off his head.
First Test, Melbourne, March 1979
An Australian side without their top players who are playing in Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket hosted a full-strength Pakistan side in this two-match Test series. Yet Mushtaq Mohammad’s men sweated hard as the Aussies came within sight of an apparently intractable target of 381.
Both sides were bowled out for under 200 in their respective first innings and it was only Majid’s hundred in the second innings that allowed Pakistan to set a tall total.
But 30 minutes into the final session of the last day, Allan Border (105) and Kim Hughes (84) had taken Australia to 310-3 and victory was Australia’s for the taking.
Then came what is regarded as one of the greatest bowling spells ever seen. Sarfraz Nawaz made the ball dance to his tune. He first removed Border, then Wood, and enticed Hughes to drive to mid-off. In 33 deliveries, he took seven wickets for just one run. Reverse swing had been unofficially announced though no one at the time realised this watershed moment in swing bowling.
First Test, Karachi, February 1980
Returning from a contentious and divisive tour of arch-rivals India, which had seen their skipper Asif Iqbal startlingly announce his retirement after a 2-0 defeat, Pakistan throw up another surprise by announcing the 23-year-old Javed Miandad to lead Pakistan.
The second surprise, rather an astonishment, is giving a Test debut to an off-spinning nets bowler no one heard of, Tauseef Ahmed. The decision was made on the morning of the Test after seeing the turn generated by the 22-year-old.
With 4-64 including a wicket with his seventh delivery in Tests, he pairs with Iqbal Qasim (4-69) to round up Australia for 225 on a viciously turning pitch. Only Kim Hughes with a sparkling 85 puts up a resistance.
Skipper Greg Chappell bowls himself with Ray Bright to counter-attack combining to make Pakistan 134-5 when Majid Khan (89) resurrects Pakistan with the lower order to take them to 292.
After a reasonable 38-run start, Australia crumble to 90-6 at the close of play. Next day they manage only to reach 140, with Qasim (7-49) and Tauseef (3-62) wrapping them up. Chasing a target of 74, Pakistan won by 7 wickets.
Third Test, Melbourne, November 1981
It was a raucous tour for team Pakistan with several candid disagreements between the 24-year-old captain Javed Miandad and the senior players leading up to the third Test.
Not surprisingly, they arrived two down in the three-Test rubber, following heavy defeats including one innings of 62 all out.
In the third Test though, Pakistan counterattacked with typical surprise, possibly surprising themselves. On a pitch with uneven bounce and some turn, they declared at 500-8. Mudassar and Zaheer reach 90s with four more getting past 50, including Imran with 70 not out. Such was the revenge of the Pakistani batsmen that the dreaded trio of Lillee, Thomson and Alderman couldn’t take a wicket in some 89 overs amongst them.
Australia struggled a bit but at 286-6, with Graeme Wood having scored a grinding hundred in just over six hours with just three fours,
Kangaroos were looking beyond the follow-on and played for a draw. Imran though had that last burst up his sleeve. Wicketless till then, he took three and Iqbal Qasim the other for seven more runs. Pakistan enforced the follow on against Australia for the first time.
That is the impetus the Pakistani bowlers needed. And although having been in the field for nearly seven hours, they had, by the of the fifth day, shot out the Aussies for 125. This time Iqbal Qasim spun them for 4-44 and Sarfraz took 3-11 in 15 overs.
The Whitewash, Pakistan, Sep-Oct 1982
With Greg Chappell refusing to tour, the captaincy fell back on Kim Hughes. He brought with him the experienced but rebellious Rod Marsh and also Jeff Thomson even as Dennis Lillee didn’t come. By and large, the team consisted of lesser experienced players, especially for Pakistani conditions.
Australia lost all three Tests by big margins; once by an innings and the other two by nine wickets. The tourists were bewildered by the leg-spin of Abdul Qadir who took 22 wickets in the series. By contrast, the Pakistani batsmen scored well, with seven of them averaging around 50 and above.
For Australia, the highest batting average (41) was by debutant Greg Ritchie while Lawson took nine wickets; the next highest were Bright and Thomson with three each.
Despite what the results show, Australia started the first Test in Karachi well, reaching 202-3 at one stage. They were subsequently bowled out for 284 despite a Dyson hundred. Pakistan replied with 419 through Zaheer (91) and Haroon Rasheed (82). Shuttered for 179 in the second innings, Australia lost by 9 wickets.
Centuries by Zaheer and Mansoor Akhtar took Pakistan to 500 in the second Test in Faisalabad. Following on, after putting up only 168 in the first innings, Greg Ritchie stroked a masterful hundred that nevertheless couldn’t save Australia from an innings defeat as Qadir took 11 wickets in the game.
Despite the series loss, the visitors dug in to make 316 in the first innings of the third Test in Lahore, though once Wood departed after scoring 85, it took big hitting from Yardley (40 off 35) and Lawson (57 off 64) to make for a decent total. Their bowling remained under-par again as centuries from Mohsin and Miandad took Pakistan to almost 500 once again. Managing just 214 as Imran took 4-35, they lost again by 9 wickets to end a sordid series where they dropped some 15 catches and a tour where they couldn’t even win an ODI or tour game.
First Test, Karachi, September 1988
Now One-Day cricket’s world champions and slowly forming a strong Test line up as well, Australia led by Allan Border over the last five years started to challenge the best in the world. On home ground, Pakistan remained stronger though.
Winning the toss and batting on a slow and turning pitch, the home team posted 469 following a partnership of 197 between Shoaib Mohammad (94) and Miandad, who goes on to score 211 as Reid and May share eight wickets.
Australia lay exposed to spin as they collapsed to 64-6 and reached 165 mainly due to an unbeaten 54 by off-spinner Peter Taylor.
Following on, they fared worse as the Pakistani spinners rounded them up again for just 116, leading their team to an innings and 188 runs victory. Iqbal Qasim finished the match with 9-84, Qadir with 5-86 and Tauseef with 3-44.
First Test, Karachi, September 1994
Never before had a Test between Australia and Pakistan reached a stage where either team could win off the next ball. Or the match could end in a tie. But so was the situation when Inzamam faced Shane Warne with Pakistan needing 3 to win and Australia needing one wicket in what were the last few overs of the Test.
It was a match that till the start of the fourth innings saw a fine hundred from David Boon, a five-wicket haul from Wasim Akram and an ebb and flow in fortunes of the two sides.
Pakistan fought back well to ensure that Australia could set a target of no more than 314. But one which Pakistan had never reached before to win a Test match.
On a pitch with not much bounce, Pakistan at one stage were in relative comfort at 148-2. The visitors had uncharacteristically dropped catches.
However, they struck back emphatically in one period of play to pull Pakistan down to 184-7. This soon became 236-8 after tea once fledgling hopes Rashid Latif departed for 35 followed by Waqar Younus with another 58 runs needed.
Inzamam had come in at No 8 due to illness and was batting well at the other end when the last man Mushtaq Ahmed walked in. Mushtaq could bat a bit but with Warne having already taken five wickets in the innings, it was always going to be a tough task.
For a while, the two adopted a tactic of going for singles and doubles as Inzamam fetched an occasional boundary. Mushtaq recalls being told by Inzamam to keep giving him the strike. His response was two powerful boundaries of his own! Bit by bit via singles, twos and fours, Pakistan edged forward and reached within a stroke of victory.
Going for that big shot, the epic win came as Inzamam came down the wicket to heave a ball from Warne which beat both him and Healy to go to the third man boundary.
Inzamam with an unbeaten 58 in two and a half hours and Mushtaq (20 not out) took Pakistan home to a fantastic win.
Third Test, Sydney, November 1995
Pakistan, as so often on tours to Australia since 1972-73, entered the third Test of the series winless and on the back of some heavy defeats. The 1995-96 series was no different with them entering the Sydney Test after losing the first two by an innings and by more than 150 runs, respectively.
A laboured and fighting 137 by Ijaz Ahmed in over seven hours (to put his hundred in context the next highest was 39) took Pakistan to 299. Mushtaq (5-95) and Wasim Akram (4-50) then bowled out Australia for 257 after the hosts were 151-3. Rashid Latif made five dismissals behind the stumps.
Pakistan closed the third day on 101-4 as Basit Ali is bowled between his legs while padding to who else but Shane Warne. The next day following a revival, a string of three lbw decisions disputed by Pakistan made them lose their last six wickets for just 41 to set the home side a target of 247.
Reaching 117-2, the home team’s middle-order was poised to complete the clean sweep when Mushtaq turned on the magic again.
Australia collapsed to 152-6 before Waqar (3-15) cleaned up the tail as Rashid Latif finished with eight dismissals in the match. Australia lost their last four wickets for just two runs to lose by 74 runs.
Second Test, Headingley, July 2010
This was the first time Pakistan was playing a Test series against Australia in England, having previously played one in Sri Lanka/UAE.
In this two-Test series, they lost heavily in the first match at Lord’s which saw the recently appointed Shahid Afridi step down from captaincy in a huff and once again walk out of Test Cricket after accepting to return to it after four years.
Salman Butt then took over the leadership. As Australia elected to bat, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif took 3 wickets each with Umar Gul 2 to terminate Australia’s first innings at a mere 88.
After taking a 170-run lead, Pakistan allow Australia to climb back in the Test through Steve Smith (77) despite at one stage being 164-5 in their second innings.
Eventually set 180 to win, Pakistan were cruising at 137-1 (Farhat 67) when suddenly, the score becomes 161-6 with only Umar Gul, Mohammad Asif and Danish Kaneria to come.
Kamran Akmal nevertheless stood firm with Aamir and Pakistan scamper home by three wickets despite his departure with the scores level.
The Whitewash, UAE, October 2014
Playing Pakistan in UAE, Australia were wary of the pitches as they had seen the Green Caps regularly stifle their opponents since started hosting international cricket in the Middle East regularly since 2010.
Pakistan were captained again by Misbah-ul-Haq whereas Australia, under Michael Clarke, were confident after a series victory in South Africa a few months earlier.
However, for the second time against Pakistan, Australia were subjected to a clean sweep and with large margins again in the two-Test rubber.
None of their bowlers managed more than 6 wickets and only David Warner impressed with an average of almost 60. And to some extent Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh in the 40s.
By contrast, three Pakistan batsmen — Younus, Sarfaraz and Misbah — averaged above 100 and Azhar in the 90s. And spinners Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar took 26 wickets between them.
Pakistan started the first innings of the first Test in Dubai as mid-heavy with Nos. 3-7 all crossing the fifty mark and of those, Younus and Sarfaraz making hundreds. The other six contributed 12 amongst them.
Chasing Pakistan’s 454, Only Warner with 133 took command as Australia made it to 303. With Ahmed Shehzad getting a hundred and Younus his second of the game, Pakistan declared to set Australia 438 to win.
The tourists had no hope at 105-7 and only a 55 from Smith and a robust 61 from Mitchell Johnson took them beyond 200, losing by 221 runs. Babar (5-74) and Yasir (4-50) were the chief destroyers.
In the second Test in Abu Dhabi, the visitors were well out of the game by the second day when Pakistan declared at 570, Younus Khan having made a double hundred supported by centuries from Azhar Ali and Misbah.
Though bowling out Australia for 261, Pakistan batted again to declare at 293 with second hundreds by both Azhar and Misbah. Pakistan captain in fact equalled Sir Viv Richards’ record for the fastest Test century, reaching it in 56 balls.
Australia resisted primarily through Smith (97) but midway into the last day, they were all out 356 runs short of the target.
Second Test, Abu Dhabi, October 2018
After the great escape by Australia in the first Test, thanks mainly to Usman Khawaja’s marathon 141, the visitors did well by restricting Pakistan to 282, that too mainly to twin scores of 94 by Fakhar zaman and Sarfaraz. However, Abbas surprisingly swung them out for 145, taking 5-33; Bilal Asif chipped in with 3-23.
With their tails up at the reprieve, the home team’s batsmen took their team to 400 before declaring as Babar Azam unluckily got out for 99; Sarfaraz making 81.
That left Australia facing another herculean target of 537, which remained of academic interest as they folded for 164 on the fourth day as Abbas finished the match with 10-95.
Those then are the 15 Test victories by Pakistan over Australia, mostly by big margins. Still, Australia have given a hard time to Pakistan at home, winning and losing one while drawing the other four that they have played on Pakistani soil in the 1990s before they opted to play them at neutral venues.
After a disappointing end to the first Test in Rawalpindi, the focus shifts to Karachi where it will be interesting to see whether the Green Caps will rule over the Kangaroos or the Baggy Greens secure a famous win in the Asian continent.