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Azam Maqbool Sheikh
Millions of cricket lovers know about most of the world records set by Pakistani cricketers. Everyone talks about Wasim Akram's 400 wickets in one-dayers and of course two hat-tricks each in both forms of the game, Saqlain Mushtaq's quickest 100 wickets in ODIs, Saeed Anwar's fabulous 194 against India at Chennai, Shahid Afridi's 37-ball 100 against Sri Lanka. But thousands might still be unaware of Pakistan's unique record at Test level i.e. their tail totaling the most runs in a Test innings.
It happened during the Lahore Test of the 1955-56 series against New Zealand. Pakistan were tottering at 111 for six and the Kiwis were all set to grab a huge first innings lead. But the Pakistani players had other ideas, as Imtiaz Ahmed and Waqar Hasan put on a mammoth 309 for the seventh wicket with the former becoming the first wicketkeeper to score a Test double hundred. Waqar's contribution in the partnership was 189.
Late Maqsood Ahmed (33), Zulfiqar Ahmed (21) and Mahmood Hussain (32) also played decent knocks as Pakistan's last four wickets plundered 450 runs.
The interesting thing is that Imtiaz Ahmed was not aware of that record until he was contacted by this correspondent. "I only knew about myself becoming the first wicketkeeper to score a double hundred and maximum number of runs while batting at No 8," said Imtiaz. (Both the records were later bettered by Taslim Arif and Wasim Akram, respectively)
When asked whether he was rewarded after accomplishing two world records in one Test, Imtiaz replied in the negative. "The only time I got rewarded was when I played a match-saving knock of 69 against India at Peshawar in 1955 series." He further recalled "A Pathan gave me Rs 101 and a knife to acknowledge my performance".
Imtiaz Ahmed scored 49 and 98 in the last Test of his career against England in 1962.
It didn't surprise many when Moin Khan and Waqar Younis put on 74 runs for the eighth wicket -a new Pakistani record against Sri Lanka. The latest incident of the tail frustrating the opponent's bowlers means that most of the tailenders have improved their batting a lot scoring regularly in the region of 20s and 30s.
Gone are the days when Test teams had some uncharacteristic and non-dependable batsmen at No 6 to 10 in their line-ups who offered little resistance to the bowlers. Fast bowling greats like Imran Khan, Richard Hadlee, Michael Holding, Dennis Lillee and Andy Roberts just needed a straight delivery to disturb the stumps of the likes of Bishen Bedi, Chander Shekhar and Dilip Doshi.
Although most of the modern tailenders have learnt to stay at the wicket or swing their bat around, the likes of Courtney Walsh, Allan Mullally, Glen McGrath and Wickramasinghe still exist who often help bowlers complete their five-wicket hauls.
However, Courtney Walsh, the world record-holder of most Test ducks, defied Pakistan's fearsome pace attack of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis along with Carl Hooper to add 131 runs for the last wicket. This was the second Test of the 1993 series played in West Indies.
Pakistani fans can never forget the frustrating moments of the 1975 World Cup when the then mighty West Indies side, led by Clive Lloyd, won their crucial match against Pakistan when the writing was on the wall for them. Pakistanis were smelling victory when West Indies No 11 Andy Roberts joined hands with wicketkeeper Dyreck Murray to add 70-odd runs for the last wicket. The one-wicket victory went a long way for West Indies in winning the inaugural World Cup.