Hanif’s grand­son hits first­class dou­ble ton, keeps fam­ily legacy alive

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTSPORTSMAX - HT Cor­re­spon­dent

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.

HANIF’S LEG­END

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.

SPIN WOES

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

KHAWAJA’S RE­SILIENCE

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.

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