Javed Miandad’s Nine Wonders of the World
The story of the Pakistan legend’s nine consecutive ODI fifties in 1987 – A record still standing today.
Recently, Pakistan skipper Babar Azam snapped his ODI streak of 6 consecutive fifties with a rare failure against the West Indies. In the meantime, Imam-ul-Haq keeps his streak alive with 7 consecutive ODI fifties. This propels Imam to second place on the leaderboard. The crown of most consecutive fifties still sits upon the head of Javed Miandad, who had an outrageous run of 9 straight fifties in 1987. By the start of the year, Miandad had already cemented himself as a proper national hero, in big part due to the famous last-ball six against India in the Austral-Asia cup final the year prior.
The streak began in the 5th ODI of the 1987 Pakistan tour of India. He was going through a bit of a rut by his standards, with the last four innings producing scores of 13, 13, 25, and 22. It was not until the ODI at Nagpur that he scored a 78, which, though fans did not know it then, started him on the path of a record that has remained unbroken for 35 years.
Pakistan stood at 40 odd runs for the loss of two wickets, with the latest casualty being Saleem Malik, who was caught by Azharuddin at point off the bowling of Maninder Singh. He immediately struggled with the spin of Singh, his edge being beaten on two consecutive deliveries to start his inning. His set partner Ijaz Ahmed got bowled by Singh on an attempted sweep, leaving Pakistan 72/3 with Miandad trusted to carry the innings. Manzoor Elahi quickly fell as well after missing everything on a slog and getting trapped in front by Chetan Sharma.
Skipper Imran Khan then strolled out to join a still unset Javed Miandad at the crease. Imran instantly hit a four over mid-on, followed by two soft guides to the deep backward point boundary. Miandad, playing conservatively until now, had opened up with a four straight over the bowler’s head as he found his confidence. Both batsmen began to up the aggression as Miandad raised the first fifty of his famous streak, ending with a total of 78 (88). Imran would score 73 off 65, followed by a quick fire 48 off 21 Wasim Akram, which pushed Pakistan to 286/6. Despite 70 and 50 from Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shashtri, the Indian line-up collapsed to the magic of Wasim Akram and Abdul Qadir. Pakistan would go on to win by 41 runs, with Wasim Akram taking the Man of the Match award.
Moving to Jamshedpur for the 6th and final ODI of the series, Pakistan had elected to field first this time. India worked to 265/3 on the back of a century from Manoj Prabhakar and 69 from the in-form Sunil Gavaskar. Miandad once again came in to bat at number 4 as Malik and Raja had both been dismissed in the 20s. He started his innings right away with singles and strong strike rotation with his set parter Ijaz Ahmed. He would knock four fours and a six en route to yet another 78 off 71 balls, this time not out, to bring his total of consecutive 50s to two. Kapil Dev picked two wickets as Pakistan chased the total right at the death, winning the away series 5-1. Unfortunately, footage of this game is hard to find, while finer details are hard to locate. However, Pakistan reportedly required 12 to win off the last over, and the master chaser pulled it off.
Fast forward to April 3rd. It is the second game of the Sharjah Cup as Pakistan and Australia lock horns in their opening match. Captain Javed Miandad won the toss, sent in the Aussies to bat first, and immediately made inroads with the wickets of Geoff Marsh, captain Allan Border, and Michael Valetta, all dismissed for below 5. A 26-year-old David Boon and Simon O’Donnell did their best to rebuild the inning with fifties, but once they fell, the rest of the scorecard read like a telephone number as they ended 176/9.
Pakistan also had a troubled start in their reply as they lost Ramiz Raja and Saleem Malik early to Bruce Reid. Javed Miandad strolled in and was almost immediately put down at point by Allen Border at square leg. Both Miandad and Mudassar Nazar committed to strike rotation to play safe and chase the relatively small total before starting to accelerate in the 35th over (the score being 109/2) with a Miandad cover drive to the boundary. He followed it up with a boundary through mid-wicket and a glorious lofted drive over the man at cover. A gorgeous flick off his pads for four and a few more runs saw Miandad make his third consecutive ODI 50. He would go on to score an unbeaten 74 (97) as he guided Pakistan home comfortably with a true captain’s innings.
Five days later, Pakistan would play its second fixture. England were coming off of a 3-wicket loss to India and looking to rebound. Captain John Emburey won the toss and sent Miandad’s men in to bat first. Mudassar Nazar was dismissed early on three after nicking off on a beauty by Phil DeFreitas, which found the hands of Jack Richards. Ijaz Ahmed quickly fell to the first of what would be three Pakistani run-outs in the innings as Miandad walked in to fill his familiar de facto number 4 role.
Miandad opened his boundary account with a powerful shot off the back foot through the covers, and he and Ramiz Raja stabilized the innings. Every boundary which came off of Miandad’s bat looked glorious as he powered his way to his fourth consecutive fifty with the support of Ramiz Raja and Imran Khan before being run out for 60 (101). Pakistan would amass 217/9, which England made short work of, courtesy Tim Robinson and Chris Broad.
Three days passed, and Pakistan were set to finish their tournament against old rivals India on April 10th. Miandad won the toss and elected to have a bowl first, putting the great Kapil Dev and his men in to bat. Srikkanth, Gavaskar, and Azharuddin were dealt with early with the new ball bowling of Imran Khan and Wasim Akram. Gavaskar seemed to chop on in the first over to Imran, Wasim Akram bowled a scorching bouncer followed by a wider one edging off a wildly slashing Srikkanth in the second, and the third over saw Imran trap Azharuddin in front. Needless to say, India were in trouble. Enter Dilip Vengasarkar. He would go on to score an unbeaten 95 off 151, which featured some beautiful strokes. It was one of the finest ODI innings that fell short of a ton as he single-handedly willed his side to a total of 183.
The total was never going to be enough, though, as 3 of the top 4 for Pakistan scored fifties, including Javed Miandad’s unbeaten 52* (67), which featured as his fifth consecutive ODI half-century. Despite losing the game, Vengasarkar’s heroics bagged him a well-deserved Man of the Match award, with Miandad ending the tournament as the top run-scorer.
A month would pass until Pakistan’s next ODI. It would come on their tour of England at the Kennington Oval in London. The 55-over match saw England, under Mike Gatting, win the toss and send Imran Khan and his boys in to bat. Ramiz Raja immediately fell for a diamond duck as number 3 Mansoor Akhtar quickly followed. Miandad would reprise his role as the de facto number 4 as he quickly started building his partnership with Mudassar Nazar. He opened his account with a quick double off an edge to the third man region, followed by a four off a nick over the slip cordon.
He didn’t look in great touch to start, but the runs were flowing nonetheless. In fact, his first four boundaries all came via accidental nicks and edges before finally playing a controlled deflection off his pads for four. A couple of glanced fours later, and he played his first proper shot: a powerful pull through the square leg region, which raced to the boundary. Soon, he had bought up his fifty, making it six in six. He would go on to score a brilliant 113 (145), this century being one of two which appear in this streak. Pakistan posted 232/6, which was promptly chased down by England. Chris Broad scored a wonderful 99 before being dismissed, becoming only the fourth player to be dismissed one short of the promised land in ODIs.
On they went to Trent Bridge for the second ODI, which saw Imran Khan win the toss and have a bowl first. The Gatting-less England side had a shaky start with Imran Khan and Mohsin Kamal dismissing Charles Athey and Graham Gooch early on. Allan Lamb and David Gower contributed in the mid-20s each before a collapse that saw four batsmen dismissed under 5, including two ducks. Only Chris Broad had any score of note with 52 as England crumbled for 157.
Pakistan didn’t bat particularly well either, but the low total meant that top-order scores of 12, 13, and 21 were enough in conjunction with Javed Miandad’s 71* (129). He came in to bat at 29/2 and saw his side over the line to a six-wicket win, earning the Man of the Match award. This was his seventh consecutive fifty, as well as yet another match-winning one.
The series decider was in Edgbaston as England would win the toss and, like always in this series, have a bowl. They were underway immediately as Greg Thomas pinned Mudassar Nazar in front LBW on the very first ball for a golden duck. Number 3 Mansoor Akhtar didn’t do much better, lasting for just three balls – another duck. Javed Miandad, for the umpteenth time, may as well have been walking in at number 3.
He creamed his first ball away through the covers, stopping just short of the boundary for three runs. Later, a miscommunication between Raja and Miandad saw Javed run his partner out on 46. His next boundaries would be a beautiful cut through point and a flick through midwicket. Soon enough, he found himself scoring yet another fifty, his eighth in a row. He would be dismissed on 68 (128) as Pakistan amassed 213. In their reply, Mike Gatting scored 41 for England, but the wickets kept falling. It wasn’t until number 10 Phil DeFreitas scored a match-winning 33 (second-highest ever by a number 10 at the time) that England won the thrilling game by one wicket (with three balls to spare) and the series 2-1.
Pakistan would not play another ODI for five months. It eventually did come in the 1987 Cricket World Cup at the Niaz Stadium in Hyderabad. The very first game of the tournament saw Pakistan facing off against Sri Lanka in front of a home crowd, and captain Imran Khan, who planned to retire after this World Cup, was looking to get it off on the right foot. Pakistan won the toss and had a bat first. Ijaz Ahmed and Ramiz Raja had a good start before Ijaz nicked off on 16. Mansoor Akthar would come in and score 12 before he also departed.
Javed Miandad scrolled to the crease, his eyes set on the upcoming milestone of 4000 career runs. He got off the mark quickly with a beautiful drive through the covers for two. He played conservatively, allowing the in-form Ramiz Raja to play the aggressor role. Although he kept picking out the fielders and couldn’t quite get boundaries himself, he kept running the 22 yards. He would eventually reach his fifty – his ninth consecutive fifty, that is. His innings was far from over as he would go on to score a World Cup ton of 103 runs off 100 balls. Pakistan scored 267, and Sri Lanka were never really in the game. A fighting knock of 89 from Roshan Mahanama led Sri Lanka to 252 all out as Pakistan won their tournament opener. Javed Miandad, unsurprisingly, was the Man of the Match.
|75.3 strike rate
That’s all, folks. The genius’s streak would end against England in Rawalpindi, where he would be dismissed on 23. All in all, it was a simply remarkable stretch of games for Pakistan’s finest, spanning four countries, four different opponents, and seven months.