Hanif Mohammad, who passed away in Karachi on Thursday (August 11), was the original Little Master, and Asia’s first legendary batsman. Wisden India puts some of his achievements in context.
Hanif opened the innings for Pakistan in their inaugural Test against India at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi in October 1952. On the first day of the game, at 17 years and 300 days old, he was then the youngest Test cricketer. Jeffrey Stollmeyer had held the record till then, having debuted for West Indies against England when 18 years and 105 days old in June 1939.
Hanif, who became Pakistan’s first half-centurion in that game, remained the country’s youngest Test cricketer till Khalid Hasan made his debut against England at the age of 16 years and 352 days in July 1954.
Club of Winners
Pakistan recorded their maiden Test win on their first tour when they beat India by an innings and 43 runs in the second game on a matting pitch at the University Ground in Lucknow. Hanif made 34, and had an opening-wicket stand of 63 with Nazar Mohammad, who became the first Pakistani batsman to score a century (124 not out). With Hanif’s passing, Waqar Hassan and Imtiaz Ahmed, who batted at No. 3 and No. 4 respectively, are now the only two surviving members from that team.
First centurion at home
Hanif was the first Pakistani batsman to score a Test century at home, and the second overall after Nazar. India were bowled out for 235 on the second day at Dring Stadium in Bahawalpur in January 1955, but Hanif showed that it was not a difficult pitch to bat on. His 142 included 17 fours and a six, and he was involved in two major partnerships. He was the ninth wicket to fall at the score of 307 and Pakistan declared soon after that. Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack said the innings was a “fine display” of batsmanship.
Pakistan’s first double-century stand
Hanif (160) and Saeed Ahmed (121) put on 246 for the second wicket against India at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai in December 1960. It was Pakistan’s first double-century stand in Test cricket. Saeed was Hanif’s favourite partner, the two combining for 1603 runs in 28 innings. Hanif did not have a 1000-run association with any other batsman.
The Holy Grail
In his 19th Test, Hanif broke all barriers when he batted for 970 minutes to make 337 and help Pakistan save the Barbados Test against West Indies after being asked to follow-on. Hanif, whose short physical stature earned him the tag ‘Little Master’, fell 28 runs short of surpassing Len Hutton’s then highest individual score of 364, but the significance of the monumental effort was not lost on anyone. Describing the knock, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack said it was built on the back of “unflagging concentration”. Hanif, who was 23 years and 27 days on January 17, 1958 – the day he completed the 300 – remains the fourth youngest to score a triple-century, behind only Garry Sobers, Don Bradman and Hutton.
Hanif, who is one of only three Pakistanis to score a triple-century, holds the record for the longest innings in Test cricket for batting for 16 hours and 10 minutes during that effort. Legendary for the tough circumstances and the strong bowling attack against which he made those runs, Wisden ranked it as one of the three greatest Test rearguards of all time in 2002.
That was the first time a batsman hit a triple century in the second innings, before Brendon McCullum repeated the feat for New Zealand against India in February 2014.
He also held the record for the longest innings in first-class cricket before Rajiv Nayyar made 271 in 16 hours and 55 minutes for Himachal Pradesh against Jammu and Kashmir in a Ranji Trophy game in November 1999.
Hanif finished the West Indies tour with a tally of 628 runs in nine innings, becoming the first Pakistani batsman to score 600 or more runs in one series. He was the lone member of that club till Mudassar Nazar (761) and Zaheer Abbas (650) joined him in the 1982-83 series against India. Since then, only Mohammad Yousuf has managed to break the barrier twice, making 665 against West Indies in 2006-07 and 631 against England in 2006.
499 and all that
A little less than a year after that marathon effort in Barbados came another epic during the semifinal of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in 1958-59. He made 499 in 635 minutes as Karachi beat Bahawalpur by an innings and 479 runs. He was run out attempting his 500th run. During the course of the knock, he surpassed Bradman’s 452 not out made in 1929-30 to record the highest-ever first-class score.
The milestone remained till June 1994, when Lara made 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham in a county match. Barring Lara, Hanif and Bradman, only five other batsmen have scored 400 or more in a first-class innings.
The Elite Club
Hanif was the first Pakistani batsman to score 3000 Test runs. He achieved the feat in the second innings of the Auckland Test against New Zealand in early 1965. He made an unbeaten century in the next game in Christchurch as the series ended in a draw. Hanif’s tally of 3915 was Pakistan’s best aggregate in Tests till Majid Khan went past the mark in August 1982. Hanif remains 11th in the list of country’s highest run-makers, currently headed by Younis.
He was also the first Pakistani to play 50 Tests, a feat he achieved against England at Trent Bridge in August 1967.
Hanif finished his career with 12 Test centuries, the last of them an unbeaten 187 against England at Lord’s in July 1967. He remained at the top of the Pakistani chart until Abbas joined him in October 1984. A month later, Miandad went ahead of the two legends with twin centuries against New Zealand in Hyderabad (Sind). Miandad also became the second Pakistani batsman to make two centuries in one Test. Hanif was the first to achieve that with scores of 111 and 104 against England in Dhaka in January 1962. On the list of most 50-plus scores by Pakistani batsmen in Test cricket, his tally of 27 ranks 11th till date.
Probably the first batsman to play the reverse sweep, Hanif was also an ambidextrous bowler. He bowled Pananmal Punjabi in the second innings of the fourth Test against India in Peshawar in February 1955 for his only Test wicket.
Hanif was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1968, and in January 2009, along with Imran Khan and Miandad, was one of three Pakistanis to be inducted in the inaugural batch of 55 players into the International Cricket Council’s Hall of Fame.
Overall Test record: 3915 runs in 55 matches at 43.98 (12 centuries, 15 fifties)
Overall first-class record: 17059 runs in 238 matches at 52.32 (55 centuries, 66 fifties)
Favourite opponent: 1039 runs against England in 18 matches
Favourite overseas venue: 697 runs in India in 10 matches
Home record: 1613 runs in 24 matches (7 centuries, 4 fifties)
Away record: 2302 runs in 31 matches (5 centuries, 11 fifties)
Best year: 1958 – 628 runs in 5 matches at 69.77
As captain: 881 runs in 11 matches at 58.73. (two wins)
Averages in each innings: 1st – 43.09, 2nd – 42.85, 3rd – 45.66, 4th – 43.00
Dismissed most times by: David Allen (England), Richard Collinge (New Zealand), Roy Gilchrist (West Indies) – 5 times each