Former Pakistan pacer Sarfraz Nawaz, speaking on Wisden‘s The Greatest Rivalry podcast, opened up on the story behind one of the greatest Test match spells, his incredible nine-for against Australia in 1970.
Australia, 76 short of the 382-run target, were cruising, with seven wickets in hand in the first Test of Pakistan’s tour to Australia in 1979. But what seemed a straightforward chase quickly turned into a nightmare for the hosts.
Nawaz went on to bowl one of the greatest Test spells of 7-1 to help his side win, as Australia succumbed from 305-3 to 310 all out. The former Pakistan pacer returned figures of 9-86 in the innings, the best by a fast bowler in Australia at the time.
“It was in Melbourne in ‘79 and Imran [Khan] and I, we were the only two fast bowlers for Pakistan and we bowled almost all day long,” he said. “We were looking at the tea break and thinking we might lose the match as they required only 70-odd runs and had eight [seven] wickets in hand.
“But then I asked Mushtaq [Mohammad], the captain, to give me the ball, and said that I’ll bowl with my full run-up so we slow down the over rate. That time there were eight-ball overs, so instead of 20, we had 15 overs to bowl. And we slowed down the over-rate. So he gave me the ball and I started and then I got the breakthrough and eventually, I ended up taking seven wickets for one run.
“Once we came off the field, an ABC reporter told me that I took seven wickets for one run. And I was looking at his face in disbelief and he said, ‘No, it is true.’ I didn’t know when I was bowling all the way through. I think it was an unbelievable performance from myself, and let me tell you, I was the first fast bowler in Australia who took nine wickets in an innings.”