Fazal Mehmood Bowls Pakistan to its First Grand Win Pak vs Eng at The Oval 1954. On August 17, 1954, in the fourth and final Test match of the fledgling country’s maiden official tour of the Mother Country, England. Pakistan had gained International Test status in 1952 but had just played 5 Tests against India in 1952-53 before leaving for England.
Pakistan emerged victorious by the narrow margin of 24 runs in the fourth Test Pak vs Eng at The Oval 1954. No Test team had done so before them on its first tour of England. Here’s now Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack described this historic Test match at The Oval in London, in its 1955 edition.
Just before half-past 12 on the fifth day of the final Test. Pakistan achieved the greatest moment of its short career as a cricket country by beating England and so sharing the rubber. Their success was well deserved, for they showed remarkable fighting spirit when victory seemed beyond their grasp.
Fazal Mehmood, the medium pace bowler went chief credit, his six wickets in each of the innings causing the batting failures of England. Hist tight and unyielding spells to finish with 12 for 99. Others who played leading roles in the triumph were the late batsmen, particularly Zulfiqar Ahmed, Wazir Muhammad, Shujauddin, and Mahmood Hussain.
England did not field their full strength, and the selectors decided that the opportunity of Test match experience should be given to some players chosen to tour Australia. A few weeks later, thus two stalwarts, Alec Bedsar, and Trevor Bailey were omitted. Frank Tyson and Peter Loader, both fast bowlers replaced them and in no way let down the side. But it can fairly be said that the determined batting of Bailey was badly missed and that Alec Bedsar might have turned the match on a pitch ideally suited to a bowler of his type.
The England tail proved for too long for a Test match and at the vital stage, this weakness almost certainly means the difference between victory and defeat. The events of the first day did not suggest that England was in for such a struggle.
Overnight and morning rain prevented a start until half-past two. Pakistan who won the test soon found them in trouble. The pitch did not become difficult, but the ball occasionally did the unexpected. Weak batting mainly accounted for seven wickets falling for 51 runs. The England policy of going into the match with three fast bowlers at first brought reward.
Brian Statham dismissed Hanif Muhammad with the last ball of the opening over. Then Frank Tyson and Peter Loader carried on the good work. Tyson, after beginning with an erratic over, soon found his length and in his third over he bowled Alimuddin and Maqsood Ahmed with successive deliveries.
A Pakistan recovery started after the team when skipper Abdul Hafeez Kardar stayed seventy minutes before Godfrey, Evans held his third catch of the innings. This success was the 131st by Godfrey Evans in Test cricket a new record beating the 130 of Bertie Oldfield the Australian.
The last two wickets added 56, by Zulfiqar Ahmed and Shujauddin, and Mahmood Hussain. They played England bowling with surprising ease way. Shujauddin batted for almost two hours for 16 not out. Frank Tyson and Peter Loader took seven wickets between them making satisfactory Test debuts.
Only two overs could be bowled in England’s innings before the close. The next day a cloudburst in the ten minutes between 11.50 am and noon put the ground underwater and prevented cricket. The Oval presented an astonishing sight with the miniature lakes and pools over it. Naturally, the pitch suffered the next day when England underwent a nasty experience.
The ball often rose awkwardly from a length and Fazal and Mahmood Hussain made the most of the conditions. The England batsmen tried unsuccessfully to hit their way out of trouble. Denis Compton made a gallant attempt, staying two hours twenty minutes, but he was missed three times, Pakistan celebrated the seventh anniversary of Independence Day by gaining a lead of three runs. Fazal Mehmood bowled throughout the innings and his figures of 6 for 53 would have been much better, but the Pakistani fielder dropped many catches.
For all that, every England batsman was caught. The pitch now drying out was more in favor of spin when Pakistan went in again, but although Johnny Wardle bowled cleverly, Jim McConnon failed to seize his opportunity.
Shuja opened the innings with Hanif Muhammad and batted steadily, but Pakistan lost four wickets for 63 by the close of the day. The early stages of the fourth day suggested an early victory for England.
Pakistan at one stage were 82 for 8, but again they came back strongly. The last two wickets doubled the total, Wazir Muhammad and Zulfiqar Ahmed adding 58 for the 9th wicket. Wazir Muhammad spent half an hour over his first run and played a defiant inning of two and three-quarter hours. Wardle finished with impressive figures of 7 for 56.
England needed 168 to win and appeared keen to get the runs in the two hours thirty-five minutes available that evening. Reg Simpson and Peter May put on 51 in forty minutes for the second wicket. Peter May batted beautifully for 53 and when the left victory for England seemed near, only 59 runs were needed with seven wickets to fall.
Then a surprising decision came, Godfrey Evans being sent in, presumably to force a win in the half-hour which remained. Godfrey Evans failed and so did Tom Graveney, when Dennis Compton fell just before close Pakistan was on top. All the recognized batsmen were gone and McConnon had to bat with a dislocated finger as the result of a fielding accident.
England started the last day, requiring 43 to win with four wickets left. In 55 minutes the match was over, and the cautious methods of the remaining England batsmen were provided to no avail. Fazal Mehmood considerably by the safe wicket-keeping of Imtiaz Ahmed who held seven catches in the match.
This was the first defeat by England in a home match since South Africa won at Nottingham in June 1951. On Saturday, 16,800 people paid for admission to the second-highest number since the war. The total attendance was almost 25,000. The crowd on Monday reached about 24,000 and these two splendid gates went a long way towards giving Pakistan their profit off the tour.
The players involved in the Pak vs Eng at The Oval 1954 Test match, unfortunately, many of those heroes are not being with us. But their cricketing spirit will always be remembered. It was one of the greatest Test Match played in the history of Test Cricket. Pak vs Eng at The Oval 1954 is the first memorable victory for Pakistan.