Hanif’s grandson hits firstclass double ton, keeps family legacy alive
MUMBAI: Shehzar Mohammad, grandson of Pakistan cricket legend Hanif Mohammad, slammed a double hundred for Karachi Whites against Multan in a Quaid-e-azam Trophy match on Friday, maintaining a unique family tradition.
Shehzar is now the sixth member of his family to score a firstclass double hundred. Apart from his grandfather whose highest score in first-class is 499, his father, uncle and two grand uncles have also achieved the same feat.
Shehzar’s father, Shoaib Mohammad, who represented Pakistan in 45 Tests and 63 ODIS, had a best first-class score of 208 not out. Hanif’s two brothers-sadiq and Mushtaq-- also hit double hundreds in first-class cricket. Sadiq’s son Imran is another first-class double centurion from the family.
Shehzar can also bowl off spin besides keeping wickets occasionally. His first double hundred came in his 36th first-class game. His knock of 265 lasted 464 balls and was studded with 30 fours and one six at the Multan Cricket Stadium. “This is a great moment for everyone in Mohammad family. This shows that cricket runs in our blood,” the 26-year-old was quoted as saying by Geo TV.
Dubbed Asia’s first ‘little master’, Hanif Mohammad played 55 Tests for Pakistan between 1952 and 1969, accumulating 3915 runs with an average of 43.98 including 12 hundreds. He is best remembered for his marathon 337 against the West Indies at Bridgetown in 1958. Mohammad’s knock, which came after Pakistan were forced to follow on, lasted 970 minutes, making it the longest innings in Test cricket. Even at full strength, Australian batting in recent years has shown palpable signs of weakness when the ball either swings or spins.
Pakistan attacked a severely weakened Australian line-up utilising both forms of kryptonite, unveiling swing with the old ball and finger spin to dismantle their first innings. Against this twin assault, Tim Paine’s tyros were powerless to halt Pakistan’s progress but at least in the second innings they displayed thoughtfulness and determination along with resolute defence to clinch a draw.
The leader of their resistance was the previously leaden-footed Usman Khawaja. The elegant left-hander displayed the benefit of a well-planned re-think of his approach to facing spin bowling and an elevation to the top of the order. The most productive batting of the Test came against the new ball where the opening partnerships prospered.
In fact, there was a period in Australia’s first innings where they could have answered with a rejoinder “what weakness against spin?” as they cruised to 142 without loss. However, at that point the Australian batting suffered another all-too-familiar collapse, losing 10 wickets for 60 runs.
This collapse was precipitated by the off-spin of debutant Bilal Asif, a taller version of the Muttiah Muralitharan form of finger-spin, involving a lot of wristwork.
Asif’s deceptive flight and bounce bamboozled the Australian left-handers and opened the door for the highly efficient medium-pacer Mohammad Abbas to barnstorm the lower order with relentlessly accurate swing bowling.
This effective combination set Pakistan -- who are as at home in the desert as Lawrence of Arabia — on the path to what should have been yet another ‘home turf’ victory.
Nevertheless, the inexperienced Australians shouldn’t feel too downcast because far better Baggy Green line-ups have been destroyed by off-spin, albeit by tweakers with a much more illustrious CV. In my memory, this malaise started with England’s Jim Laker in 1956 and gathered pace at the beginning of the new century with Harbhajan Singh and then Ravi Ashwin, along with occasional misfires against Muralitharan (in Sri Lanka), Pakistan’s Saqlain Mushtaq and Graeme Swann of England.
In the controversy laden 1956 season, Laker plundered a strong Australian line-up that included the 1948 Invincible team members, Neil Harvey and Keith Miller, to the tune of 46
The Australians produced a more studious approach in their second innings and following the example set by Khawaja, they unravelled the mystery of Asif and fought out a confidence inducing draw.
Khawaja was a man on a mission as he set out to prove that his previously poor record in these type of conditions was a thing of the past. With a more aggressive approach that resulted in sharper footwork and profiting from an improved fitness regime, he displayed skill, determination and extraordinary stamina in demanding conditions.
Following the suspension of the two most proficient batsmen in Steve Smith and David Warner, Australia badly needed Khawaja to display progress. He took a giant leap to help fill the void and deny a conservative Pakistan what seemed to be a certain victory after another calamitous first innings collapse.