Sports|Omair Alavi|December 06, 2020
Let’s go down the last 30 years to find five instances when one person’s best wasn’t just good enough to be remembered and celebrated
|One man’s loss might be another man’s gain, but cricket has proved this idiom to be incorrect. For here, we have seen one cricketer’s gain being overshadowed and forgotten by another cricketer’s ‘bigger’ gain. Everyone remembers Fakhar Zaman’s double century in ODIs but no one remembers the other batsman who scored a ‘single’ century as well; the same goes for Abid Ali’s debut ODI century that overshadowed another three-figure knock by another batsman. Let’s go down the last 30 years to find five instances when one person’s best wasn’t just good enough to be remembered and celebrated.|
Saleem Malik’s quick-fire fifty in Nehru Cup Final
Before he became known as Shady Saleem, Saleem Malik was considered the second-best batsman in Pakistan, after Javed Miandad. Who can forget his courageous knock in Kolkata during Pakistan’s tour of India in 1987 where he blasted the World Champions to all parts of the ground! Another knock of his against another World Champions in India was quite impressive, yet isn’t celebrated as much. That innings of 71 runs off 62 balls happened in the final of the Nehru Cup in 1989, against Viv Richards’s West Indies. Chasing 274 runs to win the trophy, Pakistan were down to 133 for the loss of 4 wickets with only Ijaz Ahmed showing some resistance with 56 runs. Saleem Malik arrived at the crease and scored a quick-fire 71, which included six fours and a six, taking Pakistan’s score to 226 in no time. During this 93-run partnership with skipper Imran Khan, he was the dominant partner. However, Imran took Pakistan into the final over with an unbeaten 75-ball 55, and when Wasim Akram hit the penultimate ball for a six off Viv Richards, it became an Imran-Wasim collaboration. Most of the cricket fans today don’t even know that without Saleem Malik’s knock, the historic victory wouldn’t have been possible.
Zahid Fazal – Missed it by that much!
He never managed to score a century at the international level and the closest Zahid Fazal got to it was against India in the final of the Sharjah Cup in 1991. Put in to bat first, Pakistan managed to post 262 runs at the loss of six wickets on the scoreboard thanks to Zahid Fazal’s 98 retired hurt that came of 119 deliveries. His innings was laced with 8 fours and a six and had he not gone back at 194/2 due to cramps, he might have managed to become one of the few Pakistanis to score a century in an ODI final against India. However, with Aaqib Javed taking a then world-record 7 wickets for 37 runs in the second innings, including a hat-trick, Zahid Fazal’s innings went into obscurity and despite being part of the World Cup-winning squad next year, he faded away within four years.
Saeed Anwar’s century against Sri Lanka in four-nation tournament in Kenya
He came into the side as Mushtaq Ahmed’s replacement leg-spinner and became an overnight superstar thanks to his undiscovered batting. Shahid Afridi scored a 37-ball century against World Champions Sri Lanka in the sixth match of the four-nation tournament in Kenya. In order to qualify for the final, the Greenshirts needed to post a huge total on the board, and thanks to Afridi’s 102, Pakistan managed to score 371 runs for the loss of nine wickets in 50 overs. The other person who managed to score a century alongside Afridi was Saeed Anwar who was leading the side in the absence of a resting Wasim Akram. The left-hander managed 115 runs off 120 deliveries, hit 13 fours and a six and then marshaled his side into the final but what everyone else remembers is the 6 fours and the 11 sixes struck by Afridi!
Imam ul Haq’s world-record opening stand with Fakhar Zaman
No Cricketer from Pakistan had managed to score a double century in ODIs till Fakhar Zaman managed to do so during Pakistan’s tour of Zimbabwe in 2018. He scored 210 runs off 156 deliveries, hitting as many as 24 fours and five towering sixes. In his quest to do what no Pakistani had done before, he was ably supported by Imam ul Haq with whom he scored the then world-record opening stand of 304 runs. Inzamam ul Haq’s nephew also ended with 113 runs in the match but no one remembers that. After all, you don’t get a double centurion in ODIs every day!
Mohammad Rizwan’s run-a-ball century against Australia
Not many wicket-keepers have scored a century for Pakistan in ODIs, and that’s what makes Mohammad Rizwan’s century in the 4th ODI against Australia in 2019 all the more important. Chasing 278 runs to register their first win of the series, Pakistan managed 271 and lost the match by 6 runs but at one time when Mohammad Rizwan was batting, it seemed that victory was within Pakistan’s reach. He scored 104 runs off 102 deliveries with 9 fours and a six, but people remember that match for Abid Ali’s debut ODI ton. The debutant managed 112 runs off 119 deliveries and steadied the innings till his dismissal in the 42nd over and became an overnight sensation, dimming Rizwan’s efforts. Next week – Overshadowed and forgotten – Part II
Next Week: Overshadowed and forgotten – Part II