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Opinion

Pakistan’s best-ever one-Test players

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Roar Guru
20th May, 2021
7

This is the fourth article in a series where I select a team of cricketers from each country who have the distinction of playing in only one Test.

Pakistan were late comers to Test cricket, and just over 240 players have now represented the country in Test matches since their first against India in Delhi in 1952.

Of that number, just over 40 players only had one opportunity in the Test arena. Here is a team, in batting order, made up of Pakistani players since 1979 who only played one Test.

The top order is solid, without any stand out performers.

Naved Latif, Mohammad Ramzan, Atif Rauf and Azmat Rana all have reasonable first class averages and have scored 73 first class centuries between them.

The middle order of Bazid Khan, all-rounder Qaiser Abbas and wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider are all capable of making a solid contribution with the bat and could rely upon some support from Shahid Mahboob batting at No.8.

The pace attack of Mahboob, Yasir Ali and Riaz Afridi lacks variety, with Mahboob the most likely to threaten the opposition.

Left-arm spinner Anwar would no doubt be called on to bowl a lot of overs and he would be a handful in the right conditions. Anwar could expect some handy support from all-rounder Abbas.

1. Naved Latif
Latif was an aggressive right-hand opening bat who did some good things at first class level without ever making the transition to Test cricket.

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He accumulated over 8300 first class runs at an average of just over 34, hit a high score of 394, and scored 15 centuries and 46 half-centuries.

His only Test opportunity came in 2002 in the first Test against the West Indies in Sharjah, where he opened the batting and scored 0 and 20 as Pakistan won the game by 170 runs.

2. Mohammad Ramzan (captain)
Ramzan was a consistent performer during his 17-year first class career and scored nearly 10,500 runs at the healthy average of just over 39.

He also helped himself to 25 centuries and 50 half-centuries along the way – not a bad conversion rate.

He finally got his Test opportunity after ten years of first class cricket when he was selected for the first Test against South Africa at Rawalpindi in 1997. The game ended in a draw, and Ramzan’s scores of 29 and 7 weren’t enough to see him selected again.

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3. Atif Rauf
Rauf performed on the first class stage for 20 years and scored nearly 7900 runs in his 142 matches. He averaged just under 40, and scored 17 centuries and 43 half-centuries.

He had to wait until age 30 to make his Test debut when he was selected to bat at first drop against New Zealand in the third Test at Christchurch in 1994. The Black Caps won the game by five wickets and Rauf scored just 16 and 9.

4. Azmat Rana
Rana was a consistent left-handed bat who can consider himself unlucky to play only one Test.

His first class career of 94 games netted him just on 6000 runs at a healthy average of just under 48, his top score was 206*, and he scored 16 centuries and 30 half-centuries.

He was called into Test cricket at the age of 29 in the drawn third Test against Australia in Lahore in 1980 and scored a handy 49 in his only innings, but his services weren’t required again.

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(Steven Paston – EMPICS/Getty Images)

5. Bazid Khan
No one could claim a better cricketing pedigree than Bazid Khan, son of master batsman Majid Khan, and nephew of both Imran Khan and Javed Burki, both of whom captained Pakistan.

Unfortunately, his pedigree and strong first class form didn’t deliver more than the one Test match for his country, when he was called into the team for the first Test against the West Indies in Bridgetown in 2005.

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He fell victim to the bowling of Corey Collymore in both innings, for scores of 23 and 9.

He continued on in first class cricket for another seven years, finishing with over 7600 runs at an average of just over 36, with 15 centuries and 39 half-centuries.

6. Qaiser Abbas
Abbas was a stylish left-hand bat and left-arm orthodox spinner who played 174 matches in his 19-year first class career.

He scored over 8200 runs at an average of just over 35, and took 148 wickets at an average just below 30.

He played his only Test at the age of 18 when he was selected to take on England in the first Test in Lahore in 2000. He was dismissed for just 2 in his only innings and bowled 16 wicketless overs for 35 runs. Test career over at 18!

7. Zulqarnain Haider (wicketkeeper)
Haider spent some time as the understudy to Pakistan’s regular wicketkeeper, Kamran Akmal, but eventually made his Test match debut in the second Test against England at Birmingham in 2010, a game easily won by England.

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(Credit: Swamibu/CC BY-NC 2.0)

After a golden duck in the first innings, he topped scored with 88 in the second innings while occupying the crease for just under five hours.

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He was expected to kick on at international level, however, a broken finger kept him out of the rest of the series.

He later fled the team during the subsequent one-day series against South Africa in the UAE after receiving death threats.

He had a solid first class career, scoring nearly 3000 runs at an average of just under 29, and picked up three centuries and 21 fifties along the way, to go with over 340 dismissals behind the stumps.

8. Shahid Mahboob
A right-arm fast-medium bowler and handy hard-hitting batsman, Mahboob had a very successful 20-year first class career, taking 678 wickets at the excellent average of just under 24, took five wickets in an innings 40 times, and ten wickets in a match eight times.

He also chipped in with over 3300 runs, including three centuries and six half-centuries. He played ten ODIs for his country between 1982 and 1984, but had to wait until 1989 for his one and only Test match.

He bowled first change in the high-scoring drawn third Test against India at Lahore, taking the wickets of both Ravi Shastri and Mohammad Azharuddin and bowling 49 overs for 131 runs in the match.

9. Masood Anwar
A left-arm orthodox spinner, Anwar had a very successful first class career, taking 587 wickets at an average of just under 22.

He took five wickets in an innings on 38 occasions, and ten wickets in a match nine times. He played his only Test match at the age of 33 when he was called into the Pakistan team for the drawn third Test against the West Indies at Lahore in 1990.

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He took the wickets of Carl Hooper, Jeff Dujon and Desmond Haynes in the match, finishing with the bowling figures of 3-102 off his 27 overs.

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10. Yasir Ali
Yasir Ali was yet another Pakistani junior cricket star who didn’t make the transition to Test cricket.

A right-arm fast bowler, he has the distinction of being one of the few cricketers to make both their first class debut and their Test debut in the same match, when he bowled first change in the third Test against Bangladesh in Multan in 2003.

Pakistan won by just one wicket, and Ali finished with match figures of 2-55 off 20 overs.

Unfortunately, that was his only Test appearance, despite respectable first class bowling figures of 258 wickets at an average of just over 24, and scoring over 1300 runs, including one century and four half-centuries.

11. Riaz Afridi
A right-arm fast-medium bowler, Afridi made a big impression at the 2004 under-19 World Cup won by Pakistan, taking 19 wickets at just 13 runs apiece.

He was called into the Pakistan Test team later that year, opening the bowling in the second Test against Sri Lanka.

He bowled well, dismissing both Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene cheaply in the first innings, and finishing the match with figures of 2-87 off 31 overs, however, questions were raised about his bowling action.

His suspect action, together with him joining the Indian Cricket League in 2007, ensured that he didn’t play another Test, but he continued to perform well at first class level, finishing with 328 wickets at an average of just under 25.

12. Anwar Khan
Khan was a right-arm fast bowler and handy batsman who played over 100 first class matches.

He took 209 wickets at an average of just under 30, and scored over 2200 runs at an average of just under 21.

His only international opportunity came in 1979 when he was selected for the first Test against New Zealand in Christchurch, a match ultimately won by Pakistan.

He finished wicketless in his only four overs in the first innings and didn’t get a bowl in the second.

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