Imran Khan, 8 for 58 and 6 for 58, rips apart Sri Lanka

Imran Khan took 6 for 58 to go with his first-innings figures of 8 for 58. His match figures of 14 for 116 are still the best for any Asian pace bowler © Getty Images

On March 27, 1982 Imran Khan ran through a Sri Lankan batting line-up to take 6 for 58, to finish with match figures of 14 for 116. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at the best match figures ever by an Asian fast bowler.

Imran Khan was a lot different in the 1970s. He was raw, he was fast, and he often bowled all over the place. Having modeled himself on John Snow, Imran had made his name as a tearaway fast bowler in the 1970s, but hardly anything beyond that. By the time the 1980s had arrived, though, Imran had undergone a number of serious changes: he had mastered the reverse swing. His in-swinger became even more lethal, and he cut down a bit on pace to improve on his accuracy.

As a result, he had arrived on the scene as a much improved bowler — possibly the best in the world. He went on to take 62 wickets at 13.29 in 1982 — easily the best bowling average for any bowler with 50 or more Test wickets in a single calendar year. The Sri Lankans, the babies of world cricket, were really unfortunate to have run into him in the peak of his career.

Pakistan went into the final Test of the series at Lahore, having won the first Test at Karachi comfortably, while Sri Lanka dominated an honourable drawn Test at Faisalabad. Imran, out of the first two Tests, now came back — along with Zaheer Abbas, Mudassar Nazar and Majid Khan. Javed Miandad won the toss and put Sri Lanka in.

Day One: Dias resists Imran

After a delayed start, Sri Lanka were 17 for 2 before they could have a clue regarding what was going on. Bandula Warnapura was caught by Majid at short-leg in the fifth over of the Test. Three balls later, Rohan Jayasekera got a duck on debut as Imran flattened his stumps with an incoming delivery. Sidath Wettimuny hung around grimly, being beaten by Imran on numerous occasions, while the new batsman Roy Dias flailed his bat to score runs all around the park, especially off Tahir Naqqash.

Imran struck again, removing Wettimuny soon, and then followed by having Ranjan Madugalle caught behind for a duck. Duleep Mendis played a few strokes, but eventually hit one back to Tauseef Ahmed. Soon afterwards, Imran clean bowled Somachandra de Silva to obtain his fifth wicket.

Imran bowled beautifully throughout the day. The unforgiving heat could not drain him of his inexhaustible stamina, and he managed to sustain his speed and rhythm over long spells. His rippling muscles protruded from underneath his whites, making the heart of many a woman skip a beat, and terrorising the opposition batsmen into submission. The Sri Lankans were beaten every now and then by his superlative bowling as he was able to move both the new and the old ball in the air quite prodigiously.

Dias, meanwhile, played a chanceless, masterful innings, trying his level best to bail Sri Lanka out of trouble. He reached his hundred just before stumps, and returned to the dressing-room 106 not out, with Ashantha de Mel for company. Sri Lanka were 204 for six at stumps.

Day Two: Imran demolishes, batsmen build

The Sri Lankan hope of resurgence was shattered as Dias hit Imran to Tauseef at cover-point early the next day. He had scored 109 in 179 with 14 fours and a six, and Sri Lanka has scored 192 runs during his tenure at the crease. Iqbal Qasim had de Mel stumped, and Imran ran through the rest, taking a career-best 8 for 58 to demolish the Sri Lankans for 240. Imran’s figures were the second-best by any Asian fast bowler (after Sarfraz Nawaz’s 9 for 86), and only Kapil Dev (9 for 83) has gone better.

The other debutant, Roger Wijesuriya, also fell to Imran for a blob. Ashraf Ali, the Pakistan wicket-keeper, did not concede a bye for the third innings in a row, having gone faultless in Sri Lanka’s innings of 454 and 154 for eight declared at Faisalabad.

Mudassar and Mohsin began well, and though Mudassar fell with the score on 79, Mohsin and Majid played out time with Mohsin on 78 and Majid on 42. At 168 for one, Pakistan looked firmly in control with only 72 runs in arrears.

Day Three: Pakistan batsmen grind Lankans

After the third day was washed out due to rain, an extra day’s play was scheduled at the end. As play resumed on the fourth (now third) day Mohsin soon reached his maiden Test hundred the next morning. With Pakistan only 10 runs behind, Majid holed out to cover off Ravi Ratnayake, 15 short of Hanif Mohammad’s 3,915 Test runs. He would finally retire as the highest run-scorer of Pakistan with 3,931.

Mohsin played one on to the stumps shortly afterwards. His 129 had come off 173 balls, and had contained 17 boundaries. At 247 for three, it seemed that Sri Lanka were gnawing their way back into the Test. Miandad and Wasim Raja did not last long either, and de Mel and Ratnayake looked like they might run through the rest of the line-up. At this stage, Imran joined Zaheer with the score on 306 for five at tea.

Both batsmen played their strokes, and what looked like a pressure situation soon changed. While Zaheer was typically elegant in his strokeplay, Imran was solid in defence with a boundary every now and then. They reached stumps at 398 for five, 158 runs ahead, and out of danger.
Day Four: Sri Lanka on the verge of defeat

Imran fell early on Day Four after the pair had added exactly a hundred. Zaheer reached his hundred, and scored briskly with Ashraf. The two added 88 runs in no time, and Zaheer finally fell for a 148-ball 134 with 12 fours and two sixes. Miandad declared the Pakistan innings closed at 500 for seven, 260 runs ahead, with Ashraf stranded on 45. Ratnayake and de Mel finished with three wickets apiece.

The Sri Lankan openers batted with guts, putting up 56 for the opening wicket before Warnapura fell to Tauseef. Warnapura promoted Dias over the debutant Jayasekera, and Sri Lanka went to tea at 71 for 1, with hopes of saving the Test still alive.

The scenario changed completely after tea. Wettimuny fell first, caught by Majid off Imran. Tauseef removed Dias and Mendis, and Imran uprooted the hapless Jayasekera’s stump for the second time in the Test. He had managed two this time, and became Imran’s tenth wicket of the Test. Sri Lanka finished the day at 95 for 5, still requiring 165 for evade an innings defeat.
Day Five: Sri Lanka capitulate to Imran

Day Five began disastrously, with Tauseef clean bowling Madugalle for a duck. Imran trapped de Mel for a duck the next over, and Sri Lanka were 96 for seven. Mahes Goonatilleke added 46 with de Silva for the eight wicket before the former hit one back to Imran. Ratnayake was bowled first ball, which brought Wijesuriya to the crease. Fazal Mahmood’s 13 for 114, the best match haul by any Asian fast bowler, was under threat now.

Somachandra de Silva and Wijesuriya hung around for a while, and then Ashraf finally conceded four byes off Tauseef after keeping soundly for 998 runs without a single bye. Imran clean bowled Wijesuriya the next over, and it was all over: Sri Lanka were bowled out for 158, losing the Test by an innings and 102 runs.

Imran’s finished with figures of 6 for 58 to go with his first-innings figures of 8 for 58. His match figures of 14 for 116 are still the best for any Asian pace bowler. The only other Asian pacer to take 14 in a Test is Chaminda Vaas who took 14 for 191 against West Indies in 2001-02.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 240 (Roy Dias 109; Imran Khan 8 for 58) and 158 (Sidath Wettimuny 41; Imran Khan 6 for 58, Tauseef Ahmed 4 for 58) lost to Pakistan 500 for 7 decl. (Zaheer Abbas 134, Mohsin Khan 129, Majid Khan 63, Ashraf Ali 45 not out) by an innings and 102 runs.
(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at He can be followed on Facebook at and on Twitter at