Sunday, 19 June 2011

Saqlain Mushtaq & Azhar Mahmood:- A Pakistani's Salute

In the last few weeks, we have read and listened to alot about the saga of Shahid Afridi and the PCB. Most 'Lala' fanatics have been enraged with anger with the treatment of their hero. I've always put my point through that I ain't a member of 'Team Afridi', 'Team Misbah' or 'Team PCB', I'm in the side of Team Pakistan. As long as Pakistan is winning I couldn't care less who is in the team and who isn't. Saying that there is two names I'd like to talk about and their treatment by the Cricket Board and some fans.

Saqlain Mushtaq was a class player. The inventor of the 'Doosra'. He revolutionised the art of off-spin bowling. Saqi picked up over 200 in 49 Test Matches and was the quickest bowler in ODI history to get to 100, 150, 200, 250 wickets. He finished up on 288 Wickets in 169 games. But stats were not what Saqi was about, he bowled a attacking line, during Fielding restrictions and death overs. In Test Cricket where off-spin bowling was primarily used to contain at one end this man made it into a wicket taking option. The biggestest compliment a off-spinner can get is praise from Muttiah Muralitharan, whom regards Saqlain has a mentor and a hero.

Saqi was ousted from the ODI team soon after the 2003 World Cup, in preference of Shaoib Malik being the spinner. Malik is a very good batsman but to pick him ahead of a player of Saqi's calibre in regards of bowling was beyond imagination. The next year, at the age of 27 Saqlain made his last Test appearance for the National team in a Test match against India in Multan. He had figures of 1-204 but when Sehwag and Sachin are in the form that they were in that match it can be hard on a flat surface. He went on to play extremely well for Surrey, Sussex and the ICL for Lahore Badshahs.

The second person is all-rounder Azhar Mahmood. Azhar was a very talented right arm seamer. More than just usefull he made a impact on the world stage. I remember watching his test debut back in 1997,as he got a Hundred on debut with a brillaint 128 not out against a solid attack of South Africa that included Alan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Kallis. He also got a unbeaten 50in the second innings, as Pakistan batted out day 5 in a drawn game. Azhar was one of the key players in Pakistan's 1999 World Cup final reaching team. In him and Abdul Razzaq possessed the best all-rounders in World Cricket. Azhar had the knack of picking up crucial Wickets and finished up on 123 ODI scalps. In 2007, Pakistan were knocked out by minnows Ireland in a game where Pakistan were outplayed. As a result of the defeat Pakistan had to make changes and made Azhar the scapegoat, He didn't represent the National side again.

Azhar then made a successful return to County Cricket, where for Surrey he, along with Saqlain, is regarded as a legend. Only when you walk through the Oval, do you realise how highly regarded the duo are. He is now having a impact on the Kent team with great effect.

We have made a noise about Afridi, like we did when Younis Khan was axed but these two Legends were treated in a sickening way. Truly disgusting way to axe a player to have wore that Green blazer with such pride.

Saqi and Ajju bhai, you have gone but will be remembered in my heart forever!!!


  1. Not sure about Azhar but Saqlain could've became a legend. Good article remembering some of Pakistan's finest.

  2. in my view a more talented off spin bowler than Murali and on a par with a man I consider a genius in Erapili Prasanna and also Jim Laker. As the best off spinner ive seen

  3. Thanks for the kind words, Abrar & Tim. Agree 100% about saqi. He was on par with Imran, Waz & Waqar until the treatment he got. With Azhar he was made a scapegoat, which hurts. He was a honest player who gave it 100% everytime he donned that green top. Feel about both of them