The most unfortunate ones

August 5, 2018

Over the years, there have been many players in Pakistan cricket, who didn’t really get the sort of chances they richly deserved

The most unfortunate ones

There have been many talented players in Pakistan who could never make it big despite having all the talent one needs to be a star at the international level.

Shahid Anwar, an opening batsman, scored 37 runs in his debut One-day International, against England in 1996. It was also the debut match of medium pacer Shahid Nazir. The bowler Shahid got a few more opportunities but the batsman Shahid was not so fortunate. He played his last first-class match in 2003 without getting any chance to represent Pakistan once again. He scored 26 centuries in his career that spanned over two decades.

Mahmood Hamid played a solitary One-day International against Sri Lanka in Sharjah in 1995. He came into bat at number five and was run out after facing just six deliveries and making one run. The man at the other end was Inzamam-ul-Haq.

He was 26 years old then and kept on playing first-class cricket till 2006 when he was 37, but got no more opportunity although he had an average of more than 41 and scored 22 centuries over 19 years.

Leg spinner Ali Hussain Rizvi played a Test against South Africa in 1997. He took two wickets in the only South African innings. The match was drawn as not even two innings were completed because no play was possible on the first and the final two days.

He was never recalled despite having performed prolifically in domestic cricket. He also did well against the South Africans in a tour game.

He took 171 wickets in 54 first-class games. Dejected, he stopped playing first-class cricket when he was just 26.

Shakeel Ahmed played a Test against Australia in 1998. He failed to get a wicket in the first innings but grabbed four in the second. His victims included Mark and Steve Waugh, two of the greatest Australian batsmen. He managed this despite the presence of two other spinners in the teams, Arshad Khan and Shahid Afridi.

In 109 first-class matches over 17 years, he grabbed 365 wickets, but was not given any other opportunity. He retired in 2003.

Imran Abbas and Younis Khan made their debut together, in the home ODI series against Sri Lanka in 2000. Both of them had scored heavily in the domestic season. Batting at number three, Imran scored 28 runs and was run out in the second match of the series. He was dropped after those two matches and forgotten forever. Younis was given a chance in the first Test as well in which he scored a century in the second innings and went on to become the highest run getter in Tests for Pakistan. Imran was much less fortunate. He stopped playing first-class cricket when he was just 31.

But perhaps the most curious case was that of Irfan Bhatti. A right arm fast medium bower, he played in the third ODI against Zimbabwe during their tour to Pakistan in 1993. He got two wickets -- of openers Andy Flower and MH Dekker -- giving away only 22 runs in his eight overs while Wasim Akram gave away 29 runs in his five overs. This is not to say that Irfan was better than Wasim, but he must have had some talent. Nevertheless, he got no other opportunity.

The most unfortunate ones