A ton in each Test innings will always be a hallmark of quality, the stamp of pedigree that every batsman seeks. We are fortunate to have a bevy of Pakistanis in this privileged category of success.
Every batsman dreams of making a century in each innings of a Test match, but only a select few have been blessed with this singular honour. Since the inception of Test cricket only 86 batsmen have achieved this distinction, with the list being headed by Australia with twenty three contributors. Nine Pakistani batsmen also figure in this elite grouping.
Hanif Mohammad was probably the most technically sound batsman that Pakistan has ever produced. As a seventeen year old he went with the Pakistan team to India on it’s inaugural tour as a Test playing nation. In his very first tour match against North Zone, Hanif, with 121 and 108 not out, became the youngest player in the world to score a century in each innings of a first-class match. However, he had to wait another fourteen years before he could achieve this landmark in a Test match. The occasion was the second Test against England at Dhaka in January 1962. He scored 111 in the first innings in over eight hours of ultra defensive batting and followed it up with 104 in the second innings in six and a half hours of watchful obduracy. He became the first Pakistani batsman to reach this milestone, and came very close to repeating it a few years later. Pakistan’s first tour of Australia was in 1964, and in the solitary Test at Melbourne Hanif made 104 in the first innings and was batting on 93 in the second innings when he was erroneously given out stumped off a ball that the keeper had not even collected.
After a twenty two year wait, in November 1984, another Pakistani batsman made a century in each test innings. The batsman this time was the irrepressible prodigy Javed Miandad. Playing against New Zealand at Hyderabad in the second Test of a three match series, Javed made a 104 in the first innings and followed it with a 106 not out in his second outing, as Pakistan romped home to a seven wicket win. Miandad would, of course, go on to become one of the best batsmen in the world, receiving the ultimate accolade from the great Sir Vivian Richards who picked him as the batsman he would choose to play for his life.
There was a long hiatus of 15 years before another Pakistani batsman reached this coveted milestone. In March 1999, against Sri Lanka at Lahore, in the Asian Test Championship, the Pakistan opener, Wajahatullah Wasti, who was playing in just his second Test, scored 133 in Pakistan’s first innings. He was at the wicket for five and a half hours and hit 18 fours and two sixes. He followed this up with an unbeaten 121 in the second innings and would most probably have carried his bat through the entire innings had the Pakistani skipper Wasim Akram not declared the innings closed, with two wickets still remaining, and the score at 314 for 8. Sadly, Wajahat’s career took a nosedive after this sparkling performance and he fell out of favour with the selectors merely a year later, having played a total of 6 Tests for the country.
Yasir Hameed went one better than Wajahatullah Wasti by making a century in each innings in his debut test. He thrilled the spectators with a stroke studded 170 in just over five hours in his first Test appearance versus Bangladesh at Karachi in August 2003. He then led Pakistan to victory with an elegant 105 not out in the second innings, containing 15 fours. It appeared that a new star had arrived on the cricketing firmament but Yasir never fulfilled the promise of his debut and was unable to reach three figures ever again in a 25 Test career spread over the next seven years.
Two years later in November 2005, on a placid wicket at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad, Inzamam-ul-Haq became the fifth Pakistani batsman to score a century in each innings of a Test. He made 109 in the first innings and was unbeaten on 100 when he declared Pakistan’s second innings closed at 268 for 9. He became the first Pakistani captain to score a hundred in each innings of a Test and the second Pakistani to do so against England, following in Hanif’s footsteps. Incidentally, Inzamam’s second century was also his 24th Test hundred, allowing him to overtake Miandad with 23 tons, as Pakistan’s leading century maker at the time. Interestingly, Inzamam’s first innings dismissal was the result of a controversial run-out. Following a defensive stroke from Inzamam, the bowler Steve Harmison, gathered the ball in his follow through and had a shy at the striker’s end. The ball seemed to be headed directly at Inzamam who was standing in front of the stumps. In order to avoid injury Inzi moved away from the line of the throw, but in doing so accidentally stepped out of the crease as the ball hit the wicket and he was adjudged to be run-out by the television umpire Nadeem Ghauri.
Another Pakistani great Mohammad Yousuf became the sixth Pakistani batsman to get a century in each innings of a Test. In his golden year of 2006, when he scored 1788 runs in a calendar year, at an average of 99.33 runs per innings, including a record 9 centuries, Yousuf made twin centuries in the 3rd Test at Karachi against the West Indies in November. A knock of 102 in the first innings was followed by 124 in the second. This was also the fifth consecutive Test in which Yousuf had scored a hundred, and his performance followed scores of 192 and 191 in the first two Tests of the series. Yousuf’s century in each innings also took his tally of fours for the year to a record of 222, and when added to his twelve sixes, his total hits across the fence in 2006 numbered 234. These are records that still stand today.
Pakistan’s two Test series against Australia in the UAE in the winter of 2014 was remarkable for many reasons. Pakistan defeated Australia comprehensively in both Tests, scoring nine centuries in the process. For the first time in the history of Test cricket three batsmen scored a century in each innings in the same Test series and even more remarkably all three belonged to the same side, making Pakistan the only team in Test cricket annals to record three twin Test centuries in one series and that too in a truncated one limited to just two Tests.
In the first Test at Dubai, the twin century hero was Younis Khan. Thirteen years prior to this Test, in March 2001, Younis had just missed this milestone by nine runs. Playing against New Zealand at the Eden Park, Auckland, he had scored a rapid 91 from 138 deliveries in the first innings with 14 fours and 2 sixes. The second innings was a more explosive affair as Younis destroyed the New Zealand attack with 149 not out in just 182 balls, inclusive of 14 fours and 4 sixes. Now over a decade later he joined this exclusive band of batsmen with centuries in each innings of a Test. A splendid effort of 106 in the first innings, supplemented by ten fours and a six was the precursor to a 103 in the second innings off just 152 balls. Younis became the first batsman to score a century in each innings against Australia for over forty years, after the New Zealand star Glenn Turner’s achievement at Christchurch in 1974. His twin centuries also took him past Inzamam’s record of 25 Test centuries for Pakistan and made him the first Pakistani to score centuries against all the other nine Test playing countries of the time.
In the second Test of the series against Australia at Abu Dhabi, two more Pakistani batsmen scored a century in each innings. Azhar Ali and Misbah-ul-Haq provided the fourth instance of two players performing this feat in the same match. Azhar Ali made 109 in the first innings and was 100 not out in the second when Pakistan declared at 293 for 3. However, the real fireworks were provided by the captain Misbah. Known by the nickname ‘tuk tuk’ for his defensive batting, Misbah launched a severe attack on the Australian bowling. His 101 in the first innings took a 168 deliveries and included 10 fours and a six, but it was in the second innings that he just tore the Australian attack to pieces with a rare, unseen savagery. He raced to his fifty in just 21 balls, a test record, and his century in merely 56 balls, equaling Sir Vivian Richards world record for the fastest Test century in terms of deliveries faced. He hit 11 fours and 5 sixes, so that 74 of his 101 runs came in boundaries. Wisden called his innings ‘sanity-crushing.’ He became the second Pakistani captain to make a century in each innings of a Test and the first captain of any side to do so versus Australia. He was playing in his 50th Test and was forty years old at the time, the oldest player ever to achieve this distinction in a Test match.
On the nine occasions that a Pakistani batsman has scored a century in each Test innings, the credit has gone to an opener in four cases and to a middle order batsman in the other five. Pakistan have never lost a Test in which one of their players made a twin century, winning five and drawing three. Six times this landmark was reached on home soil and thrice in the UAE.
Besides the nine successful Test twin centurions, six Pakistani batsmen have come close to this milestone by making a ninety and a hundred in the same test. Hanif Mohammad’s 104 and 93 at Melbourne in 1964, and Younis Khan’s 91 and 149 not out at Auckland have already been mentioned. In 1978 Zaheer Abbas came tantalizing close to a century in each innings when he made 176 and 96 against India in Faisalabad, being inexplicably dismissed by the gentle medium pace of Sunil Gavasker when just four short of a second hundred. Mohsin Hasan Khan also missed out narrowly versus India, scoring 94 and 101 not out at Lahore in 1982. Saeed Anwar racked up 94 and 136 versus Sri Lanka at Colombo in 1994 and Mohammad Hafeez got 96 and 101 not out against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi. For this illustrious group it was the proverbial slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.’
As a pleasant postscript Zaheer Abbas redeemed his misfortune of not achieving this landmark in the test arena by becoming the only batsman to score a double hundred and a century in the same match on four occasions in the first-class format of the game. Even more strikingly, he remained not out in each of these eight innings.
A century in each Test innings will always be a hallmark of quality, the stamp of pedigree that every batsman seeks. We are fortunate to have a bevy of Pakistanis in this privileged category of success.
– Dr Salman Faridi is a senior surgeon, poet, sports aficionado and an avid reader with a private collection of over 7000 books.