Cricketing Dynasties: The Twenty Two Families of Pakistan’s Test Cricket – Part 5

June 21, 2020

Saleem Malik was a courageous cricketer who came out to bat with a broken arm in the 2nd innings of the Faisalabad Test against the West Indies in 1986, staying at the crease for 41 minutes in a last wicket stand of 32

This week we bring you the exploits of three more families from our vaunted group of the twenty two Pakistani cricket families where more than one family member has played Test cricket.

Saleem Malik/Ijaz Ahmed

Saleem Malik was a very talented batsman who burst upon the Test scene with a century in his very first Test against Sri Lanka in 1982. He was the youngest player at that time to score a century on Test debut doing so at the age of 18 years 323 days. A very wristy and elegant batsman Saleem went on to become one of only six players who have played more than a 100 Tests for Pakistan. He holds the record for the best average by a Pakistani batsman playing in the Number 6 batting position, with 1591 runs in 36 innings at an average of 56.82. Saleem fared particularly well against England with 1396 runs at an average of 60.69 in 19 matches. A good fielder, his tally of 65 Test catches is the sixth highest for a Pakistani player.

Saleem also captained Pakistan in 12 Test matches, winning 7 of them. This success rate of 58.33 and a win/loss ratio of 2.33 are both the third best for any Pakistani captain.

Saleem was a courageous cricketer who came out to bat with a broken arm in the 2nd innings of the Faisalabad Test against the West Indies in 1986, staying at the crease for 41 minutes in a last wicket stand of 32. During this innings he also played the famous one handed ‘helicopter shot’.

Saleem was embroiled in many controversies. In a Test in Zimbabwe in 1995, the toss had to be repeated because instead of head or tails Saleem called ‘bird’ depicting the eagle on the coin. When the coin landed with the eagle side up, Salim claimed to have won the toss but the umpire insisted on repeating the toss which Saleem lost. Earlier in 1994 in a Test in New Zealand, Saleem called in Urdu and picked up the coin when it landed, claiming a win, before the New Zealand captain Rutherford could even see the coin.

Saleem Malik also has the unenviable record of being the first cricketer to be banned for match-fixing along with Ataur Rahman. He was banned for life by the Justice Qayyum Commission in the year 2000. The ban was subsequently overturned in 2008.

Ijaz Ahmed was Saleem Malik’s brother in law. A hard hitting batsman with an unorthodox stance, Ijaz played 60 Tests for Pakistan. He had a special liking for Australian bowling scoring 1085 runs against them at an average of 47.17, including 6 centuries which equals the highest number of centuries by a Pakistani batsman against Australia.

Ijaz was a member of the winning Pakistani team in the ODI against England at Trent Bridge, Nottingham in 1996, when for the first and only time in an ODI the man of the match award went to an entire team instead of an individual. The adjudicator was Tom Graveney.

Ijaz also came into conflict with the law. He was jailed in 2009 in a case related to the issuance of false cheques. He is presently the coach of the Pakistan Under-19 cricket team.

Saleem and Ijaz have together scored 9083 runs in Test cricket, including 27 centuries, while in first-class cricket the figures are 29,475 runs and 84 hundreds. They have also picked up 7 Test wickets and 127 first-class wickets between them.

Anil Dalpat/ Danish Kaneria

Anil Dalpat was the first Hindu to play Test cricket for Pakistan. His father Dalpat Sonavaria was a good club cricketer and headed the Pak Hindus Club in local tournaments. It is said that his father saw the Australian batsman Norman O’Neil make a swashbuckling 166 against Pakistan at Lahore in 1959, and was so impressed by him that he decided to name his first born Anil as a twist of the name O’Neil.

Joining the side after Wasim Bari retired, Anil played 9 Tests for Pakistan, all within the space of one year from March 1984 to February 1985. In the Pakistan domestic season of 1983-84, Dalpat had 69 dismissals behind the wicket which is a record for a Pakistani season.

After retiring from cricket Dalpat coached for a while in Canada before settling into a business career.

Danish Kaneria is Dalpat’s first cousin. After Dalpat he is the second Hindu and the eighth non-Muslim to play test cricket for Pakistan. He represented Pakistan in 61 Tests between 2000 and 2010. Two brothers-in-law of Dalpat, Bharat Kumar and Mahendra Kumar have also played first-class cricket.

Kaneria is the fourth highest Pakistani wicket-taker in Tests with 261 scalps. He is one of only six Pakistani bowlers to have taken more than 1000 wickets in first-class cricket. He took 1024 wickets in 206 matches with a strike rate of 4.97 wickets per match. This is the best strike rate for a Pakistani bowler with over 1000 wickets. Interestingly of the six Pakistani bowlers to take 1000 first-class wickets three are leg spinners, namely Danish Kaneria, Mushtaq Ahmed and Intikhab Alam.

Danish also played for Essex in England. In 2010 he was investigated and cleared in an inquiry over ‘match irregularities’. In 2012 he was named in court in a spot-fixing case and was banned for life from playing in England and Wales. This decision was also endorsed by the PCB. After many years of denial Kaneria admitted his role in this scandal in an interview for an Al Jazeera television documentary in 2018.

Kaneria’s 261 Test wickets came at an average of 34.79 and his 1024 first-class wickets at an average of 26.18. Anil Dalpat’s statistics are 167 runs and 25 wicket-keeping dismissals in Test cricket and 2556 runs with 430 wicket-keeping dismissals in first-class cricket.

The Elahi Brothers

(Manzoor Elahi, Zahoor Elahi, Saleem Elahi)

The eldest brother of this Sahiwal family, Manzoor Elahi played six tests for Pakistan over an eleven year period from 1984 to 1995. A hard hitting batsman and a fast medium bowler his game was more suited to the ODI version where he made more frequent appearances for the national side. In fact in his debut ODI against India at Quetta he won the man of the match award.

Imran Khan is reported to have said that Manzoor was the hardest hitter of the ball that he had ever seen, who could hit the ball harder and hit bigger sixes than Ian Botham. Before graduating to the national team, Manzoor had played for the Pakistan Under-19’s and Under-23’s. He also played league cricket in England.

The middle brother, Zahoor Elahi was an opening batsman who played briefly for Pakistan. His two tests as well as all his ODI appearances came within a three month period in 1996-97. Like his brother Manzoor, Zahoor Elahi also played for the Pakistan Under-19 team. He led the Pakistan team in the Youth World Cup of 1988 all the way to the final, where they finished as runners up to the hosts Australia.

Zahoor Elahi had a long cricket career of 25 years which included league cricket in England and Scotland. After retiring he turned to coaching.

The youngest brother Saleem was probably the most gifted of the three.

An opening batsman he had an unusual start to his career when he was selected to play an ODI for Pakistan even before he had made his first class debut. He announced his arrival with a century, becoming the first Pakistani and the fourth player in the world to make a hundred in their first ODI. In typical swashbuckling style he reached his century with a six. At the age of 18 years and 312 days he was also the youngest ODI centurion at the time.

Saleem played 13 Tests for Pakistan from 1995 to 2003 without ever living up to his earlier promise. Like his other brothers he also played for the Pakistan Under-19 team and had a stint in English league cricket.

The Elahi brothers together scored 589 runs in test cricket. Their total first-class tally was 28,209 runs, including 49 centuries. They also took 400 first class wickets between them.

Next week we will continue this walk down Pakistan’s test history as we sift through the cricket records of a few more families.

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

Cricketing Dynasties: The Twenty Two Families of Pakistan’s Test Cricket – Part 5