India's first overseas centurion June 18, 2005

Mushtaq Ali passes away

Cricinfo staff

Mushtaq Ali: the original dasher

Syed Mushtaq Ali, one of Indian's early cavaliers and the first Indian batsman to score a Test century away from home, in 1936 at Old Trafford, has died in his sleep early this morning. Ali, 90, who was the oldest living Indian cricketer, is survived by two sons and two daughters.

Ali, born on December 17, 1914 in Indore, began his Test career as a left-arm spinner against Douglas Jardine's English team at Eden Gardens in 1933-34, but quickly made his mark as a dashing batsman with little regard for the reputation of bowlers.

Although he batted at No.7 in his first Test, he was promoted to open the innings with Naoomal Jeoomal. But his definitive match came three years later when he set Old Trafford alight with a hundred scored in just under a session. He put on 190 with Vijay Merchant in the last session of the second day against a bowling attack that comprised Gubby Allen, Alf Gover, Walter Hammond and Hedley Verity. This hundred was voted as 18th in the list of all-time greatest hundreds by cricketers and cricket writers in a poll conducted by Wisden Asia Cricket last December.

Ali walks out to bat

His batting style was unorthodox and he was never afraid of using his feet. During the Old Trafford innings, he repeatedly stepped out against the quick bowlers to upset their rhythm. He opened with Merchant ten years later in England and they put on 124 at Old Trafford and 94 at The Oval. Their association lasted just four Tests and seven innings but they averaged 83.4 as an opening pair.

But cricket administrators were not kind to him and he was overlooked for the subsequent tour to Australia, for which he made himself available after initially withdrawing because of his brother's death. He came back strongly in the next season, making 54 and 106 against the West Indies at Eden Gardens. But he played only one more Test, against England at home.

Ali also played 226 first-class games where he managed to score more than 13000 runs and picked up 162 wickets with his left-arm spin. He was awarded Padma Shri by the Indian government for his contribution to cricket in 1964. His son and grandson - Gulrez Ali and Abbas Ali - also played first-class cricket, and created a unique distinction of three generations of Indian cricketers playing first-class cricket.