The Defining Decade: 1990 – The Year of Waqar Younis
In our ‘Defining Decade’ series, we look back at each year of the 1990s and how it panned out for Pakistan.
Before the 1990s
After the boring and defensive cricket of the 1960s, Pakistan entered a brave new era in the 1970s with exciting new cricketers such as Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, and Zaheer Abbas all going on to become legends of the game. But while there were memorable series such as those against India and Australia at home, where accusations of biased home umpiring were common from the visitors, there wasn’t much in the way of overseas success.
Pakistan also failed to do much of note at the first three World Cups held in England, losing the semi-final in 1979 to the eventual champions West Indies before having to see the ignominy of India winning the 1983 World Cup and later losing to them at the World Championship of Cricket final, a kind of Champions Trophy of its time.
In fact, until the famous Javed Miandad six at Sharjah that won the Austral-Asia Cup final, it was India who had been the more dominant of the two rivals in head-to-head cricket and overall. The mid to late ’80s saw Pakistan become a force to reckon with, the only team to go head to head with the dominant West Indian side of the time in drawing series both home and away as well as recording first-ever wins on tours of England and India while beating the likes of Australia and New Zealand on Pakistani soil.
There was heartbreak in the semi-final loss to eventual champions Australia at the 1987 World Cup in Lahore, but overall, performances were improving as shown by improved performances on the 1989 tour of Australia, which saw Wasim Akram come of age as a world-class all-rounder while captain Imran Khan continued to produce great cricket despite having made his debut nearly 20 years earlier.
The 1990s for Pakistan started after a borefest of a drawn series against India in 1989, where batsmen scored for fun on dead pitches. All four Test matches were drawn with the likes of Sanjay Manjrekar and Shoaib Mohammaed, both sons of former national players, scoring double centuries in Lahore. Aamer Malik scored his only two Test centuries in back-to-back games, while pace bowler Vivek Razdan took a five-wicket haul at Sialkot and never played Test cricket again.
Tests in Australia
Pakistan then headed off to Australia, where they are yet to win a Test series, and despite putting up a great fight, lost the first Test at Melbourne by 92 runs. Wasim Akram took six wickets as Pakistan restricted Australia to 223, but the hosts then bundled them out for 107 and declared their second innings after setting Pakistan a world record chase of 429 despite Wasim taking another five-wicket haul to complete a dream Test match for himself.
Aamer Malik found batting a lot tougher than he had against India and was dismissed for a duck, but fighting knocks from Miandad and Imran complimented Ijaz Ahmed’s superb century. He would score half of his 12 Test hundreds against them, though the first-innings failure haunted Pakistan as Australia won comfortably.
Not content with 11 wickets in Melbourne, Wasim continued to haunt the Aussies in the next match at Adelaide. He joint top-scored alongside Javed Miandad as they both made 52 in Pakistan’s first innings score of 257 and added a third successive five-wicket haul as Australia made 341 in their first dig.
Then, as Merv Hughes decimated the Pakistan top order with four wickets, the scoreboard read 22 for 4. It was 90-5 when Miandad’s prized wicket fell; Akram then joined his captain in a 191-run stand for the 6th wicket, scoring his first Test century in the process. Saleem Malik added runs with the tail as Pakistan set Australia 304 runs to win.
Despite an unbeaten century from the late Dean Jones, Australia were unable to get to the target. Akram’s performance with bat and ball galvanized Pakistan supporters who felt they had found their replacement for their aging captain but while he outperformed Khan with the ball, his batting, despite a brutal double hundred against Zimbabwe later in his career, never reached the same heights as his captain’s.
The third Test at Sydney was badly hit by rain, something that later generations of us never got the luxury of as we still hold onto the scars of 2010 that confirmed that Michael Hussey hated us no matter the format.
Benson & Hedges World Series
The tri-series saw Sri Lanka, very much the babes of international cricket at the time, join these two sides for 12 round-robin games. After losing back-to-back games to the hosts, the newbies turned the tables with a close-fought win over Pakistan at Perth. A young left-handed all-rounder called Sanath Jayasuriya batted at number 7 and took his side home without hitting a single boundary, something he would make up for against us time and time again later in his career.
With Australia also beating Pakistan in the next match, there was a real worry of an embarrassing end to the tour as Pakistan languished at the bottom of the table with nearly half the matches played. The green shirts bounced back in game six, chasing a then tough target of 250 on the back of an Ijaz Ahmed century at Brisbane to get onto the points table.
Australia comfortably beat Pakistan at the same venue before the same two sides met at Sydney; Pakistan captain Imran Khan was 37 years old and had made his debut nearly 20 years earlier before his teammate Aqib Javed had even been born. Khan turned back the clock with a vintage all-round performance, taking 2 wickets for 30 runs in his 10 overs before anchoring the chase with an unbeaten 50 as Akram came in at the death and hit a few boundaries to finish the game.
Sri Lanka were seen off in back-to-back games with Waqar Younis (4/39) and Ramiz Raja (116*) shining in a six-wicket win at Hobart before a high scoring match at Adelaide saw both teams combine to score over 600 runs, a rarity for the time. Raja hit another unbeaten hundred, no doubt giving him good practice for his World Cup exploits a couple of years later, while Anwar hit six sixes in his 126 with a strike rate over 125, which was simply unheard of then. Akram was promoted up the order to hit a couple of sixes on his way to a vital 30+ at a strike rate of nearly 150 (sound familiar?).
Despite losing their best batsman, de Silva, to a run out after he had made a superb start, the Lankans kept plugging away through captain Ranatunga and senior batsman Mahanama. Waqar Younis’ 2 wickets for 35 in ten overs on a pitch where nearly everyone else went for at least five an over was the difference-maker. It should also be mentioned that Sri Lanka’s strike bowler Rumesh Ratnayake also produced a superb spell of 1 for 38 in 10 overs while everyone else in his team was taken to the cleaners.
Australia then beat Sri Lanka at the same venue to end their series before losing another close match to Pakistan, once again at Sydney, as Khan produced another superb performance with bat and ball, scoring a fifty and taking a wicket as Pakistan won by only two runs. Sadly for Pakistan, the hosts were dominant in the best of 3 finals, winning by seven wickets at Melbourne and ending their bad run against us at Sydney with a thumping 69-run win to take the trophy.
All three teams that had taken part in the tri-series were joined by India, New Zealand, and Bangladesh for the second edition of the Austral-Asia Cup in Sharjah, best remembered for Miandad’s last-ball six in the final four years earlier. The Trans-Tasman neighbors joined associates Bangladesh in Group A, while the neighbors from the sub-continent were joined by Sri Lanka in Group B.
Australia and New Zealand unsurprisingly both beat Bangladesh before the Australians beat the Kiwis to confirm their place as group winners. Group B, and the tournament, got off to a stunning start when Sri Lanka beat India by three wickets in a game where both captains, Azhar and Ranatunga, put in excellent performances. India’s tournament ended with a defeat to arch-rivals Pakistan, who defended 235 despite another excellent knock by Azhar, who followed up his hundred against Sri Lanka with an unbeaten 78 to give his team hope.
But Waqar Younis with 4 for 42, in the midst of an excellent run that saw him take three consecutive four-wicket hauls and 17 wickets for the tournament, and debutant Sajjad Akbar, an off-spinning all-rounder who took 2 wickets for 45 runs, helped Pakistan triumph by 26 runs. Pakistan went past 300 runs against Sri Lanka again, with Miandad and Ijaz scoring fifties before Waqar ripped through the Lankans with 6 wickets for 26 runs, including de Silva for a golden duck.
The first semi-final pitted Pakistan against New Zealand, and had veteran batsman Andrew Jones not made 47, the Kiwis would have folded for under 50. Jones hit 80% of his team’s boundaries and scored 63% of their runs as Waqar followed up four and six-wicket hauls with five wickets.
Australia decimated Sri Lanka in the other semi-final, winning by over 100 runs with an unbeaten century from Dean Jones and a then-world record 18 ball half-century from his fellow Victorian Simon O’Donnell. Tillakaratne’s 76 gave the men from the emerald isle a respectable total in a chase attempt that never threatened to worry the Aussies.
Having beaten Pakistan in the finals of a tournament just a couple of months earlier and on a 10-match winning streak in ODIs, the Australians started as favorites as Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first. Saleem Malik anchored the innings with 87 before a brutal knock by Akram, who hit three sixes on his way to missing out on his half-century by one run, took Pakistan to a then above-par score of 266.
Australia’s openers put on 62 before Boon was run out, and then the irrepressible Waqar took out the in-form Jones for a duck and trapped captain Border lbw for just 1. Waugh and Taylor, two future Australian captains, doubled the score before the opener was run out, but Waugh added over 50 runs with O’Donnell, who hit four boundaries and batted at a strike rate near 120, to keep Australia in the hunt. Mushtaq Ahmed, not for the first time, took the important wickets of Waugh, O’Donnell, and the dangerous Peter Taylor to put Pakistan on top. Then, Akram finished things off with his second hat trick in six months at Sharjah, clean bowling Hughes, Rackemann, and Alderman in a display that has become essential viewing for all Pakistan fans on YouTube.
New Zealand in Pakistan
New Zealand were the next team to play Pakistan, visiting for a series of 3 Test matches and 3 ODIs in October of 1990. Pakistan had last played Test matches eight months ago in Australia and hadn’t played one day cricket for nearly six months since winning the Austral-Asia Cup in Sharjah. The Kiwis were led by the late, great Martin Crowe, who was believed by many to be the best batsman in the world at the time and praised by Pakistan’s bowlers as one of their toughest opponents.
The Test series began at Karachi with New Zealand fielding three debutants, including current Pakistan Head of High-Performance Coaching Grant Bradburn, making 196 after being put in to bat as both Ws took four wickets each (this often seemed to happen against New Zealand with the pair combining to win games). Shoaib Mohammad then struck his second career double-century, this time on his home ground, as Pakistan declared their innings on 433 for 6 for a lead of over 200 runs.
Despite an unbeaten 68 from their captain, the Kiwis were unable to better their first innings score and lost by an innings and 43 runs, with Wasim and Waqar sharing seven wickets this time around. The teams moved to Lahore for the second Test, with New Zealand again batting first, but this time after winning the toss, they were bowled out for 160. Pakistan’s bowlers shared the wickets with all five picking up at least one as wicketkeeper Ian Smith top scored with 33 runs.
It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan captain Imran Khan had chosen to skip this series, believing the Kiwis to be an inferior side and the weather in Pakistan to be too hot for cricket to be played, so Javed Miandad led the side, and the clean sweep meant he would end his career with as many Test match victories leading the side as Khan, with both winning 14 matches.
Shoaib Mohammad hit another century during his purple patch, and Pakistan declared with their lead over 200 runs, no doubt confident that they could bowl out the visitors again after the last match. Willie Watson’s six wickets were a career-best performance for a player who hardly played in any Test wins, only winning 3 out of his 15 matches.
Pakistan would probably have bowled the Kiwis out again to win by an innings, but for the brilliance of their captain whose unbeaten century meant Pakistan had to chase 75 to win the match, Waqar Younis’ seven-wicket haul continuing his dominance over the visiting side’s batsmen bar Crowe who both Ws praised as being in a league of his own. Pakistan knocked off the runs fairly quickly for the time, with only Ramiz Raja getting out as they won by nine wickets to take the series.
The final Test was played at Faisalabad’s Iqbal Stadium, a ground where Pakistan’s record is a mixed bag with six wins that came against Australia, India, New Zealand, and the West Indies but also five losses which include two wins apiece for Sri Lanka and the Windies and a famous win for South Africa that broke local hearts.
New Zealand won the toss and sent the hosts in to bat, no doubt stung by their own experiences of batting first in the previous two games. Though they only admitted it publicly years later when both had retired, fast bowler Chris Pringle, playing only his third Test, and captain Crowe had hatched a plan to tamper the ball which they felt the home team had been doing on their way to winning the first two matches (though neither was able to ever prove to have seen this happening). Pringle took career-best figures of 7 for 52, and the non-tampering Willie Watson took the other three wickets as Pakistan were bundled out for just 102 with captain Miandad top scoring with 25 runs. Pringle admitted he had used a bottle cap that he’d cut into four quarters to scrape on one side of the ball.
New Zealand made 217 all out with a punchy, counter-attacking innings of 61 from their keeper Smith, scored at over a run-a-ball in an era where this was unheard of in Test match cricket. That was aided by captain Crowe and tail-ender Pringle, the co-conspirators of the tampering plan, both hitting five boundaries each to give their team a valuable lead of over 100 runs that was double Pakistan’s first innings score. Waqar Younis took seven wickets and has never claimed to have tampered with the ball to date.
Whether Pringle lost the bottle top or whether the Pakistan batsmen figured him out is unclear, but despite taking four wickets for a match haul of 11, he wasn’t as lethal as the first innings (Danny Morrison also took four wickets and has never claimed to have tampered with the ball either) as Pakistan made 357 with another big hundred from Shoaib Mohammad and fifties for Saleem Malik and captain Miandad.
Set a target of 243, the visitors fell short by 65 runs despite a spirited effort from their lower order that saw Dipak Patel top scoring with 45, Bradburn making an unbeaten 30, and Smith again smashing quick runs with 21 off only 11 balls with four boundaries. Pringle had taken 11 wickets, so naturally, Waqar went one better and took a second five-wicket haul to end with 12 wickets for the match and 29 for the series.
The ODI series started with a reduced overs game of 40 overs-a-side at Lahore, where a Saeed Anwer century, his first on home soil, saw Pakistan win by 19 runs. Wicketkeeper Ian Smith was once again the visitor’s batting hero after a quick knock of 47 with a stunning strike rate of over 150 that followed a solid effort by Mark Greatbatch atop the order, but when Saleem Malik takes five wickets against you, then you really do deserve to lose the game. His 5 for 35 was his career-best bowling performance.
Waqar Younis was back on form to haunt the visitors in the second ODI at Peshawer, another 40-over contest; he took 5 for 11 while Saleem Malik, clearly in the mood to make the best of a surprising situation, took 2 wickets for 7 runs as the Kiwis limped to 127 all out before their reduced quota of overs was even up. Pakistan’s openers nearly knocked off the score themselves, with Anwar adding a fifty to his first-game hundred while Ramiz Raja, in what has to be a rarity, outscored his partner in boundaries and stayed unbeaten on 50 to clinch the game and the series.
The series was rounded off with yet another 40-over game, answers on a postcard please, at Sialkot, where New Zealand had won both their previous matches against Pakistan on the tours of 1976 and 1984. Buoyed by his performance in the last game, Raja hit a century as Malik completed an excellent personal series with an unbeaten 65 as the hosts hit 223 in 40 overs at nearly 6 an over, a monumental achievement in that era where 200 in 50 overs was seen as a near unchaseable total. New Zealand never got going in their reply as Manzoor Elahi took out their top order, including skipper Crowe and the dangerous Greatbatch. Ijaz Ahmed, no doubt inspired by future brother-in-law Saleem Malik, snuck in two wickets of his own before Waqar, the man who seemed to dominate the entire tour, came in surprisingly at second change to take yet another five-wicket haul and end a winless tour for the visitors who were clean swept in both series.
West Indies in Pakistan
The West Indies arrived in Pakistan next. The first ODI in Karachi started only two days after the New Zealand series had ended. During their dominant run in world cricket, where they did not lose a Test series from 1980 to 1995, no team gave the West Indies a run for their money like Pakistan did. To this day, many believe the 1987 series was marred by biased umpiring decisions, which denied Pakistan a clear victory. It would be 20 years, with more heartbreak in the series of 2000, before Pakistan would beat the West Indies on their own patch in a Test series. In back to back series in 1986-87 (played in Pakistan) and 1987-88 (played in the West Indies), the teams drew 1-1 with each side winning a game, losing a game, and drawing a game.
With the opposition to his liking and the prestige of beating the world’s best side on the line, captain Imran Khan was back to lead the home side against a visiting side still boasting the talents of Malcolm Marshall and Desmond Haynes as well as exciting new talents like the Trinidadian duo of Lara and Bishop. Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat first with fifties from Malik and Khan, who put on 45 with wicketkeeper Saleem Yousuf in the death overs to take the score to 211 in 40 overs and set the visitors a stiff target.
Led by experienced opener Desmond Haynes in the absence of talismanic captain Viv Richards, the visitors lost opener Best for a duck before Haynes added a 138 with Richie Richardson. Waqar Younis – who else – took out the well-set pair as well as Logie, Lara, and Hooper, who were all bowled or leg before, to complete another five-wicket haul. Despite a late blitz from Marshall, the hosts held on to win by six runs.
The visitors won the toss and elected to bat first in the second ODI at Lahore, but despite another half-century for their captain and a rare wicket-less spell for Waqar Younis, their total of 176 did not seem a dominant one. Of course, no one specializes in turning non-threatening scores into unchaseable targets like Pakistan, so naturally, they were 3 wickets down for 23 runs and 4 down for 52 when Miandad was dismissed. But Malik held his nerve to see his side home with an unbeaten 91, and captain Khan supported him well in a stand of 123 runs before being dismissed with only two runs needed. The next man in Saleem Yousuf didn’t face a ball as Pakistan won by five wickets with 11 balls to spare.
With the series won, Pakistan headed to Multan in a confident mood and made a change that was to have a big bearing on their future plans with Moin Khan making his ODI debut in place of long-term keeper Saleem Yusuf. The West Indies also chose to play their backup wicketkeeper David Williams instead of legendary long-term custodian Jeff Dujon for this game.
Pakistan’s 168 was made on the back of an unbeaten 46 from their skipper, contrasting scores in the 30s by Anwer and Malik, who failed to hit a single boundary but had the innings’ highest strike rate, and 23 from debutant Moin, who hit three fours. Though the West Indies were two-time world champions, their one-day form had not been as dominant as their Test run, and indeed, since losing the 1983 World Cup final to India, they had hardly reached the same heights of their earlier one-day cricket as consistently as they did in the longer format.
They would have been favorites to chase the score, but despite top scoring with 35, legendary opening batsman Gordon Greenidge ended up harming his side’s effort as he faced nearly half the balls bowled in the innings. Pakistan’s 31-run win completed a clean sweep over the visitors and an excellent home season of limited-overs cricket, which saw them win all six one-dayers held on home soil as well as the Austral-Asia cup in Sharjah to go with reaching the final of the tri-series in Australia, a run which included a couple of close wins over the hosts too.
Pakistan’s year at home would end with the big one, the Test series against the world’s number one side. Unbeaten in a series since they lost to New Zealand a decade ago, they had also drawn their last two series against Pakistan 1-1, and many felt the hosts had been their most credible challengers in an era of dominance. The first Test was played in Karachi, and Pakistan welcomed back Wasim Akram, who had missed the one-dayers against both visiting teams, as well as captain Imran Khan, who had skipped the series against New Zealand.
It was Khan’s opposite number Haynes who set the tone, continuing his excellent personal form with a century after winning the toss and electing to bat first. His was comfortably the highest score as the West Indies made 261 all out with another five-wicket haul for Waqar and three wickets for Wasim, while Mushtaq Ahmed outperformed his idol, Abdul Qadir, by taking the other two wickets to fall.
In reply, Pakistan’s innings saw three batsmen reach double figures, and the other eight contribute a combined total of 36 runs in a total of 345 all out; even extras outscored the players who made single figures. Saleem Malik made a century, Shoaib Mohammad missed one by 14 runs, and the skipper remained unbeaten on 73.
The opposition captain was once again in fine form, but in a near mirror image of the Pakistan innings, only three West Indian batsmen made sizeable contributions, with the other eight making four ducks and two senior batsmen make 11 runs each. Logie top scored with 58 not out and Marshall was the only other player to support him and Haynes as the tail was blown away by the Ws, who took seven wickets between them. Shoaib and Malik both made unbeaten scores in the 30s as Pakistan chased down 98 runs to win by eight wickets.
The second Test match was played in Faisalabad, which, over the years, had often seen weather issues dominate games held during the winter. Sadly for the home team, it was unable to affect the result as the tourists roared back with a win that ended Pakistan’s ten-match winning streak across formats at home.
Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first with two new debutants on their side in opener Saeed Anwer, who had shown good form in one day cricket, and wicketkeeper Moin Khan who had made his one-day debut during the recently concluded series. It was to be a match to forget for the left-handed opener who was out without scoring in the first innings as Pakistan limped to 170 all out on the back of a fifty-plus score from the in-form Saleem Malik with youngster Zahid Fazal contributing 32 and debutant Moin 24. Ian Bishop, who many experts felt could have been the greatest West Indian bowler of his generation but for injuries, took four wickets.
The visitors hardly set the world alight in their first innings, with Richie Richardson top scoring with 44 as Waqar added another five-wicket haul to his burgeoning collection and Wasim taking three as the West Indies were all out for 195 – a slender lead of 25 runs.
Pakistan’s second innings went much the way as their first had; Anwqr was out for a duck to complete a pair on debut, Malik top scored with another score of 70 plus, and only three batsmen reached double figures, which included a punchy 32 by Moin to complete a competitive debut from a personal point of view as Pakistan were bowled for 154 to set the West Indies 130 to win the match and square the series. Despite in form captain Haynes falling to the first ball of the innings by Wasim Akram, who also removed Best and Greenidge to take all three wickets to fall, the West Indies comfortably chased down the score thanks to an unbeaten 70 from their new batting hope Richie Richardson, a soon-to-be future captain, and Carl Hooper who added 96 runs with him to take their side to victory.
From a position of strength that had seen them win every game held on home soil before the second Test match, the hosts came into the final Test match of the series, their last home game of the year, under pressure. Javed Miandad had captained Pakistan to a clean sweep in the Test and one-day series against New Zealand as regular captain Imran Khan chose to skip the series. Khan had come back to lead from the front as the West Indies were swept away 3-0 in the one-dayers and had seen his side comfortably win the first Test. But not for nothing were the touring side unbeaten in a Test series for over a decade, both home and away, as they fought back to win the second Test match and looked the more likely of the two teams to take the series, which would be their first over the hosts in a decade since last beating them 1-0 in the Caribbean in 1980.
The visitors handed a debut to a young left-hander whose name would be known for years to come, while Pakistan never gave another game to their own left-handed debutant despite him making runs and taking wickets. After the experienced top three were dismissed cheaply, the young guns Lara and Hooper added nearly 100 runs, with the Trinidadian making 44 and the Guyanese hitting a superb century to take his side to 294 before being the last man out, a second wicket for Pakistan’s debutant Masood Anwar.
Pakistan’s last debutant named Anwar had been dropped after his pair on debut, and their batting lynchpin Miandad was missing with Ramiz Raja batting at 4, and Aamer Malik called back in the hope of repeating his form from earlier in the year. Wasim Akram’s 38 was the highest score from the home team, who were bundled out for 122 all out with Ambrose and Bishop taking five wickets apiece.
The West Indies’ second innings score of 173 was one run more than their first-innings lead and featured another fighting 50 from Gus Logie, while Hooper missed out on a century and half-century double when dismissed for 49. Wasim Akram took a five-wicket haul on his home ground while debutant Masood Anwar added the scalp of the visiting captain Haynes to his collection as the West Indies set Pakistan 346 to win with almost a day and a half left to play.
Things got off to the worst possible start as the one-time free-scoring opener on home soil, Aamer Malik, was out first ball of the innings for a golden duck, and just as it seemed that Raja and Shoaib had repaired things with a 90-run partnership, Walsh struck to remove Ramiz and end the day’s play. The final day began with Shoaib at the crease with the new boy Anwar, but Pakistan’s first innings nemesis Bishop jolted the home side by first removing the well set Shoaib for 49 and then taking out Pakistan’s best batsman of the series Malik for a duck.
Four wickets down for 110 looked like a situation where Pakistan would not be able to stop the tourists from winning the match and the series with it, especially as plenty of overs remained and the weather was clear too. Debutant Masood Anwar had defended stoutly and was joined by his captain, who eschewed his attacking instincts to repel the visitors’ pace battery; The pair added 67 runs but, more importantly, eating up plenty of overs, the West Indies cause not helped by lacking a front line spinner. All-rounder Hooper took the wicket of Anwar for an important and well 37 before Walsh took out the last remaining frontline batsman Zahid Fazal cheaply.
Now, only Moin Khan and the tail remained alongside their captain to try and keep the West Indies from victory. Wasim Akram came in ahead of the wicketkeeper-batsman, and as always, the left-hander’s game seemed to lift in the presence of his mentor. The pair defended well and took no risks, even as Wasim hit three boundaries in his 21 not out, adding 55 runs with his captain. The pair batted through to the end of the day to draw the game and deny the visitors a series win. For the third successive series, these two teams had drawn a series 1-1.
Sri Lanka in Sharjah
Pakistan ended the year 1990 with a short tour of Sharjah to play a two-match ODI series against Sri Lanka, their most regular opponents across the year, starting with the tri-series in Australia, which saw the Lankans beat them in Perth on the last day of 1989. Despite being at full strength and having comfortably beaten Sri Lanka in their last meeting at Sharjah, scoring over 300 runs in the process, Pakistan made a below-par score of 170 in the first one day game, with their captain’s 43 being the top score as Rumesh Ratnayake took five wickets for 32 runs.
Though Wasim Akram started well by removing both openers, Sri Lanka’s middle-order batsmen all made runs, and captain Ranatunga matched his opposite number by top scoring for his team and taking them to victory by six wickets, ending a run of four successive losses to the men in green.
Ijaz Ahmed’s innings turned out to be the difference-maker as Pakistan ended the year on a positive note by winning the second and final one-dayer to draw the series at one win each. He top scored with 54 in what seemed another below-par total of 181 for Pakistan.
The Sri Lankans started well in their pursuit of what would have been a famous victory, and despite good starts for the openers, de Silva, and Tillakaratne, they never recovered from excellent spells by Mushtaq and Waqar, who took three wickets each to condemn them to a 50-run defeat. With no super overs or boundary countbacks in existence then, Pakistan were declared the winners of the series thanks to their superior scoring rate, finishing the year with a good win-loss record in both formats of the game and with exceptional performances from the likes of Waqar Younis, Saleem Malik, and their evergreen leader Imran Khan.
With the World Cup of 1992 only a year away, the performances in one-day cricket, in particular, would have pleased the Pakistan captain and management going into 1991.