Zaheer Abbas on Hanif Mohammad March 10, 2008

Slow, steady, hungry

ESPNcricinfo staff
The Little Master and I

PA Photos

I was an ardent fan of Hanif Mohammad's when I was in school. His name would figure prominently in the sports pages almost every day of the cricket season.

It was always a treat to watch him. He wasn't a big hitter, but the way he delicately flicked it to the on side was a delight. I never tired of watching him, and whenever he went in to bat, I prayed that he would make big runs.

The first time I saw him was when the national team was in the nets in Karachi once. I was impressed with how difficult it was for the bowlers to beat him even in the nets - he handled them all without much sweat.

Over the years, even if I admired almost everything of his batting, I never imitated him. I was a strokeplayer by nature and he was more of a defensive player. But one thing I adopted from him, and which helped me a lot, was his temperament. It helped me focus on the ball at hand.

The first time I met him was at a game in 1968. I was playing for the Pakistan Works Department against Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), of which Hanif was the captain. I had a run of good innings, which impressed him enough for him to make me an offer to join PIA. Over the years we became friendly, and one day he told me, "Zed, it looks like you are going to break all my records." As an upcoming batsman, I couldn't have asked for anything more.

As told to Nagraj Gollapudi