Pakistan news March 8, 2013

Haseeb Ahsan dies aged 73

Haseeb Ahsan, the former Pakistan offspinner, has died at the age of 73 in Karachi. Ahsan was staying with former Pakistan captain Hanif Mohammad and was on dialysis for the last two years.

Ahsan played 12 Tests for Pakistan between 1958 and 1962. His last stint in cricket was in England, when he represented Pakistan Eaglets in 1963 against Scotland. Following his first-class career, which lasted almost eight years, he took up an executive role in American Express.

He went on to become one of the most influential selectors in Pakistan cricket. As chief selector, he picked the teenager Wasim Akram for the national side in 1984. He was also the chairman of the 1987 World Cup technical committee and a member of the tournament's organising committee.

Akram paid tribute to Ahsan, telling AFP: "Ahsan convinced everyone of my talent and selected me against New Zealand. He was very close to me and, as a powerful selector, spotted young talent and threw them into the bigger battles. I have lost a very close supporter."

In the official history of Pakistan cricket, he was recorded as a "prodigious spinner of cricket ball". On debut in first-class cricket, he didn't take a wicket against MCC in 1955 in his only match of 1955-56 season, but followed up that with a solid second season, finishing with 19 wickets at 12.68. In 1957-58, his tally was 26 wickets at 9.76, and he claimed his career best of 8 for 23 - that eventually brought him into contention for international cricket, and he was subsequently picked for a tour to the West Indies. Ahsan finished with 27 Test wickets at an average of 49.25. He took his best figures of 6 for 202 against India in Chennai in 1961.

Later, Ahsan was a key figure in Karachi cricket and became the pivotal figure in the Sindh Cricket Association in 2003. In 2006, he was named in the panel that heard the appeals of fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif against doping bans.

PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf praised Ahsan's administrative skills: "Haseeb was not only a superb Test cricketer but also was a good administrator who intimately knew the game. His death is a loss to the cricketing fraternity." Karachi City Cricket Association president Sirajul Islam Bukhari said: "Ahsan fought illness with courage."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

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