Hanif, Shoaib, Shehzar - three generations, three double-centurions
On October 12, a new chapter was added to the Mohammad dynasty's book of cricketing feats
On October 12, Shehzar Mohammad, Karachi Whites' 26-year-old No. 3, completed his maiden double-hundred in first-class cricket, at the Multan Cricket Stadium. Upon reaching the landmark, he lifted his bat towards the Hanif Mohammad Stand, named after his grandfather.
Hanif made seven double-hundreds in first-class cricket, including two innings etched in the game's history books: a monumental, match-saving 337 in Barbados in January 1958 - it remains the longest innings in all Test cricket; and, a year later, 499 for Karachi against Bahawalpur, which stood as the highest score in all first-class cricket until Brian Lara went past it in 1994.
Shoaib Mohammad, Hanif's son and Shehzar's father, made four double-tons in first-class cricket, of which two - identical scores of 203* - came in Test matches.
Now Shehzar, in his 36th match, had joined his father and grandfather in scoring first-class double-hundreds. The Mohammads had become the second three-generation trio to achieve the feat, after the D'Oliveiras - Basil, Damian and Brett. Brett D'Oliveira, who is three months younger than Shehzar, scored his maiden double-hundred in May 2016, for Worcestershire against Glamorgan.
Shehzar, who bats right-handed, first learned his way around the cricket pitch under the tutelage of his grandfather Hanif.
Shehzar made his first-class debut in 2009, having returned to Pakistan after studying in the USA. A wicketkeeper-batsman at the start of his career - Hanif kept wickets occasionally too, and did so in Pakistan's inaugural Test match - he has now given up the keeping gloves and is focused on his batting.
"It's a great achievement for me and my family and I am proud of that record," Shehzar told ESPNcricinfo. "I was constantly looking towards the Hanif Mohammad stands... it motivated me a lot during my innings."
The record is one of many memorable moments for the Mohammad family, which has played an indelible role in Pakistan's cricket. Four brothers - Hanif, Wazir, Mushtaq and Sadiq - played Test cricket for Pakistan, after the family migrated from India following Partition in 1947. Despite being third in line, Hanif was the first to play for Pakistan, featuring in their inaugural Test match in Delhi when he was some two months short of his 18th birthday. He scored 3915 in 55 Tests at an average of 43.98, and is still considered by many to be Pakistan's greatest ever opening batsman.
Shoaib was a solid top-order batsman too, featuring in 45 Tests and 63 ODIs in the 80s and 90s. He made 2705 Test runs at 44.34.
"It's a great achievement and a proud moment for the Mohammad family but it's more of Pakistan's achievement. Record books will say it's a Pakistani family and [for Shehzar] to follow his grandfather and father's footsteps is great," Shoaib said. "Had Hanif saheb been alive he would have been too proud of this feat.
"Shehzar learnt the basics of the game from my father as he was very passionate about his grandson playing cricket. He used to take Shehzar to the ground and watch him play and then gave him useful tips. It's all because of papa's guidance that he became a good cricketer."
Hanif's three brothers had their share of successes for Pakistan, most notable among them was Mushtaq who also captained Pakistan and taught them how to win matches in the 1970s. But Hanif's oldest brother, Raees, could not make it to the top despite being the most stylish batsmen of all the siblings.
"In my opinion, had he played, he would have proved himself to be a better allrounder than even Mushtaq," Hanif once said.
Raees came close to playing Test cricket when he was named 12th man against India in Dacca (now Dhaka) in 1954-55. "Our then captain Abdul Hafeez Kardar came to my room an evening before the Test and asked me to take to bed early," Raees once told BBC Urdu.
But Maqsood Ahmed, famous as Merry Max, was especially flown from Lahore to make his debut and Raees could never match his four brothers.
A bitter Raees added: "People were jealous that we all played cricket so a cricket board official once remarked, 'how many of your brothers will play?' and it hurt badly. I was good enough to play but could not get a chance to don the green Pakistan cap."
Even Ameer Bee, the proud mother of the Mohammad brothers, used to say "Raees was the best batsman of all the brothers and it pains me that he did not play for Pakistan."
Raees, nonetheless, was a great fan of Hanif. "He was a model of concentration," Raees remembers. "He would build his innings -- wherever and whenever he played -- step by step and would never take risks and people would watch him with amazement. His reflexes were very good and all those traits combined made him a great batsman."
While Hanif's son Shoaib went on to play for Pakistan, Raees' sons Shahid, Asif and Tariq, like their father, played first-class cricket but never played for the national team.
The Mohammad family provided one of only three instances of three brothers playing in the same Test match. England's WG Grace, Fred Grace and Edward Grace featured in the Oval Test against Australia in September 1880. In Cape Town in 1892 came the unique instance of South Africa's Frank Hearne playing against an England team containing his brothers Alec and George, and their cousin Jack.
Hanif, Mushtaq and Sadiq featured in the same Test against New Zealand in Karachi in October 1969 - it was Hanif's last Test and Sadiq's debut.
"Cricket is in our family and Hanif saheb led the way for us," Shoaib said. "Now I hope Shehzar continues to take the bloodline forward."
If Shehzar does goes on to fulfill his father's wishes, it would be the third instance of three generations featuring in Test cricket, after Jahangir Khan (India), Majid Khan and Bazid Khan (both Pakistan), and George Headley, Ron Headley (both West Indies) and Dean Headley (England).
Shahid Hashmi is a cricket journalist who writes for various international publications