Sports

Happy 49th Birthday Ijaz Ahmed

Written by Omair Alavi

By:Omair Alavi He may have had the most unusual of batting styles but Ijaz Ahmed was Pakistan’s best bet when it came to scoring quick runs and confusing the opposition. Selected for his superior fielding in the early years, he became a team regular after scoring multiple centuries Down Under. His status was further elevated…

SAMAA | Omair Alavi – Posted: Sep 20, 2017 | Last Updated: 4 years ago

By:Omair Alavi

He may have had the most unusual of batting styles but Ijaz Ahmed was Pakistan’s best bet when it came to scoring quick runs and confusing the opposition. Selected for his superior fielding in the early years, he became a team regular after scoring multiple centuries Down Under. His status was further elevated after he scored 6 centuries against Australia including a few on their pitches, something that made him a welcome sight. Today, the master blaster celebrates his 49th birthday and there can be no better way to wish him than watch the highlights of some of his innings where he was unstoppable, uncontrollable and unconquerable.

Brutal knock in English Summer, 1996

It was the second Test of the series that Pakistan eventually won; Ijaz came into bat at 1-1 after the departure of Saeed Anwar and left 233 runs later after adding 97 runs for the second wicket with Shadab Kabir and 120 for the fourth wicket with Saleem Malik. His 141 may not have been his highest score in Test (he had a 211 in Dhaka and 155 in Peshawar) but considering it came at Headingley, Leeds where the pitch was sporting to both batsmen and bowlers, it might very well be his best Test innings.

A night to remember, 1997

The series was leveled at 1-1 in what was India’s comeback series in Pakistan 20 years back; however, even their worst critics wouldn’t have predicted that Ijaz Ahmed would take them to the cleaners by hitting an unbeaten 139 off just 84 balls and win the series for his team. Stand-in captain Saeed Anwar promoted him as an opener and Ijaz delivered as expected, hitting lusty blows against medium pacers who thought they could do wonders in the land of Wasim and Waqar. His innings featured 10 fours and 9 sixes in what was Pakistan’s first match under lights at home, in Lahore.

The day Aussie pacers lost pride in Paradise, 1999

Just like Saleem Malik scored centuries whenever he toured England, Ijaz liked to score against Australia – he scored a century at Melbourne in 1990, followed by a match-winning knock in Sydney 5 years later and finally, delivered a commanding knock of 115 at WACA, the fast  in 1999. Pakistan lost the match by an innings and 20 runs but Ijaz’s gutsy batting won him fans all over. This was his sixth and final century against his favourite bowling attack as 2 years later he quit the game for good.

Telling the Proteas who’s the boss, 1994

Ijaz Ahmed was in phenomenal form during the Tri-series in Pakistan where Australia and South Africa were the other participants. His 110 against the star-studded South Africa in Rawalpindi was a match-winning knock since it helped Pakistan post the target of 250 on the board; he was excellent in the field as Pakistan ran out as many as three South Africans, a rare feat indeed. During the series, he remained unbeaten at 98 just because he was bowled off a no ball, and he went back to bat without knowing that they were past the target.

And then there was Sri Lanka, 1990

Until the mid-90s, Sri Lankans were considered minnows but even then, they had some of the best players of the era in their side. Imran Khan promoted Ijaz Ahmed in the batting order – ahead of both Javed Miandad and Saleem Malik – and he passed the test by scoring a run-a-ball century and helping Pakistan win the match by five wickets. Five years later, Wasim Akram repeated the feat and Ijaz made the all-important number 3 slot his own with brilliant performances that were only bettered by his successor Younis Khan.

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Omair Alavi