Best performers in first-class cricket on Pakistani soil

April 7, 2024

It’s an interesting list. While many have attained national and international fame, some have stayed in the shadows despite a sterling domestic record

Best performers in first-class cricket on Pakistani soil

First-class cricket started in Pakistan on the 27th of December 1947 with a three-day match between Punjab and Sindh, at the Bagh-e-Jinnah ground in Lahore. To date, 4223 first-class matches have been played on Pakistani soil by 97 teams. Six teams have played more than 150 matches, with the list being headed by HBL (Habib Bank Limited) who have played 180 matches. They are followed by WAPDA (Water and Power Development Authority) with 175, KRL (Khan Research Laboratories) on 171, NBP (National Bank of Pakistan) on 167, and SNGPL (Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited) with 165. Pakistan’s national side has played 164 first-class matches on home turf.

The best performers in first-class cricket on local soil make an interesting list. While many have attained national and international fame, some have stayed in the shadows despite a sterling domestic record. In fact, quite a few have not even been considered suitable for selection to the national side despite a very impressive record on the country’s local first-class circuit.

Batting: Most First-Class Career Runs Scored in Pakistan

Thirteen batsmen have scored more than 10,000 runs on Pakistani grounds. The list is headed by Fawad Alam, who has the topmost run aggregate of 13,172 runs, while his 38 centuries are also the highest by any batsman in Pakistan’s domestic arenas. His average of 57.51 is the third best for any batsman who has scored over 5000 first-class runs within Pakistan. Despite these outstanding statistics Fawad only earned only 19 Test calls over a thirteen year Test career.

Imran Farhat is second on the list of run makers with 12,830 runs. His 35 centuries also place him in the top three on the centurions list. Hasan Raza, the youngest Test debutant, is the only other batsman in this list with more than 12,000 runs on home grounds. His aggregate of 12,485 runs with an average of 44.43 and 31 hundreds, places him third on the list. Kamran Akmal is a surprising presence at number four with 11,342 runs at a very healthy average of 45.18 and inclusive of 30 centuries. These figures suggest that he could perhaps deserve a place in the national side on the merit of his batting alone. He is followed by Khurram Manzoor and Mohammad Saeed Anwar from Burewala (also known as Saeed Anwar Jr., and not to be confused with his more illustrious namesake) with 11,220 and 11213 runs respectively. Misbah ul Haq also has over 11,000 runs at a very handsome average of 52.20. Close on Misbah’s heels are Test opener Yasir Hameed with 10,834 runs, Umar Amin, who also won four Test caps, with a tally of 10,683 and Saeed bin Nasir who gathered 10,596 runs, averaging almost 39 runs per innings but never made it to the national Test side.

Best performers in first-class cricket on Pakistani soil

The legendary Zaheer Abbas is next with 10,415 runs made at a phenomenal average of 61.26 and incorporating 36 centuries. Then comes Faisal Iqbal whose 10,384 runs came at almost 43 runs per outing. Faisal also played 26 relatively ineffectual Tests for Pakistan. Completing the list is the illustrious Javed Miandad, who scored 10,329 runs on Pakistani soil at an average of 52.69, including 32 hundreds.

There are many notable batsmen with high batting averages who played less frequently on the domestic circuit and therefore had lower overall run aggregates. The cricketing icon of Pakistan’s earlier years, Hanif Mohammad, made 9155 runs at a wonderful average of 57.57 runs per outing. The middle order triad of Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, and Inzamam ul Haq all averaged over 50 runs per innings, with Younis harvesting 6556 runs, average 53.16, Yousuf making 4367 runs at 54.58 runs per knock and Inzamam’s tally being 8254 runs at an average of 53.94 per outing.

Bowling: Most First Class Career
Wickets in Pakistan

Seven bowlers have taken more than 500 wickets on Pakistani soil. Topping the list is the right arm pacer Abdur Rauf whose tally is 630 wickets from 131 matches at an average of 23.16 runs per wicket. Primarily an in-swing bowler with the ability to extract awkward bounce from the wicket, Rauf represented the national side in 3 Tests without experiencing much success. He is followed by Tabish Khan, the Karachi seamer who was called into the national side at the age of 36 years, the third oldest ever debutant in Pakistan’s Test history. He also earned the rather dubious distinction of being the bowler with the most first class wickets before making his debut for an Asian team. Tabish had 598 wickets in first-class matches before he played his first, and sadly only, Test against Zimbabwe in 2021. Tabish’s total first-class wicket haul in Pakistan is 618 wickets costing 24.15 runs each.

Best performers in first-class cricket on Pakistani soil

Yasir Arafat was a genuine attacking all rounder with a skiddy bowling style who won 3 Test caps and also spent time on the English county cricket circuit , playing for Surrey and Sussex at different times. Yasir managed 589 wickets on Pakistani venues at 21.83 runs apiece.

The next two bowlers in this list are also pacers. Aizaz Cheema notched up 552 wickets at an average of just 19.57, while the left-armer from Mianwali, Samiullah Khan, snared 525 victims at an even more miserly cost of merely 18.70 runs each. Aizaz Cheema got a late call-up into the national Test side at the age of 31. After a successful debut when he took 8 wickets, his performance petered out. He represented Pakistan in a total of 7 Tests. Samiullah never made it into the national squad.

The only spinner in this cohort of seven is Danish Kaneria. A big turner of the ball, who also generated considerable bounce off the wicket because of his height, Danish’s haul on Pakistani grounds was 515 wickets at 23.95 each. The final name on the list is of Asad Ali, the Faisalabad born medium pacer, who obtained 508 wickets at 22.86 runs per wicket.

Best performers in first-class cricket on Pakistani soil

The records of Pakistan’s established bowling luminaries, also make informative reading. Imran Khan took 294 wickets on the local scene at an average of 19.22 runs each, Wasim Akram had 206 scalps at 20.85 apiece, while his fearsome fast bowling partner, Waqar Younis, had 319 at 20.80 runs per wicket. Mohammad Sami and Yasir Shah had longer and more active exposure to the domestic circuit and their bowling haul reflects that. Sami had 484 wickets at 23.28 each, while Yasir managed 363 at a more expensive average of 28.27 apiece. Mohammad Abbas got 360 wickets on the domestic front at a cost of 21.28 each, Mohammad Asif scalped 285 at 22.90 per wicket and Saeed Ajmal snared 251 victims averaging 26.0.

Most First Class
Career Dismissals
in Pakistan

Best performers in first-class cricket on Pakistani soil

Eight wicketkeepers have made more than 400 dismissals on Pakistan’s home grounds. This wicketkeeper’s list is headed by Kamran Akmal who is also on the highest run accumulators list. Kamran had 764 victims behind the stumps and is comfortably ahead of Zulfiqar Jan whose tally is 543. Zulfiqar is a relatively unknown keeper from Charsadda, who played for KRL and Peshawar Cricket Association.

The third keeper with over 500 dismissals in Pakistan is Kamran’s brother Adnan Akmal with 501 victims.

Best performers in first-class cricket on Pakistani soil

Adnan is followed by the peerless Wasim Bari, the best keeper that Pakistan has ever produced. Wasim had 490 dismissals behind the stumps, which included 98 stumpings, the highest number by any Pakistani wicket keeper on local soil. Incidentally, Wasim also has the highest number of stumpings by any Asian in the history of first-class cricket.

Next on the list is Humayun Farhat who snared 484 batsmen. Humayun was also a reasonably efficient batsman and totaled 5959 runs in matches in Pakistan at an average of almost 28. Humayun earned a solitary Test appearance against New Zealand at Hamilton in 2001, and ended up with the very dubious distinction of being the only wicket keeper in Test history who did not make a single dismissal in his entire Test career.

The last three wicket keepers on the list are lesser known; Gulraiz Sadaf from Burewala with 425 victims, Mohammad Salman from Karachi with 416 and Jamal Anwar from Rawalpindi who has 404 dismissals. While Mohammad Salman represented the country in two Tests, Gulraiz and Jamal never received a Test match call-up.

Of Pakistan’s more renowned wicket keeping names, Sarfaraz Ahmed has 397 dismissals and has also performed impressively with the bat, scoring 6427 runs at an average of 47.60, thus staking a claim for a Test place on batting ability alone. Contemporaries Moin Khan and Rashid Latif have 381 and 311 dismissals respectively, on the domestic circuit, while a stalwart from earlier years, and Pakistan’s first regular wicket keeper, Imtiaz Ahmed, accounted for 162 victims in days when fewer first class matches were played in the local cricketing calendar.

Dr Salman Faridi is a senior surgeon, poet, sports aficionado and an avid reader with a private collection of over 7000 books.


Best performers in first-class cricket on Pakistani soil