Asif Iqbal - One of the best all rounder
Written by English NewsPaper/Dawn/Others   

For spectators in England in the late 1960s and the 1970s there were few more enjoyable sights than a big innings from Asif Iqbal.

There was something uninhibited about his batting.When he joined Kent in 1968 he seemed to personify the perceived advantages of the 'instant' registration of overseas players. Of medium height, fit and athletic with a lean and hungry look, but often with a smile on his face, his approach to the game seemed Caribbean in its enthusiasm.There were two innings in particular which symbolised this freedom of spirit:Asif's century for Pakistan against England at The Oval in 1967, and his 89 for Kent against Lancashire in the Gillette Cup final of 1971 .The first of these innings was more startling, not only because Asif was largely unknown in England and was ostensibly playing as a bowler, but also because of the context of the game and the series.

It could not be said that his success in 1967 was totally unexpected. Like all his contemporaries in the Pakistan side, by definition, Asif was born in pre-partition India but, unusually, he actually played first-class cricket in India. The nephew of Ghulam Ahmed, the Indian off-spinner, he played for Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy in 1960/61. Later that year he migrated to Karachi. On his Test debut at Karachi against Australia in October 1964, he opened the bowling with fellow debutant Majid Jahangir Khan. Batting at number ten in the first innings he scored 41, and he made 36 in the second. He was the leading wicket-taker on the tour to Australia and New Zealand in 1964/65, taking 18 wickets at 13.77 in the three Tests against New Zealand. In the opening first-class game of the tour against Queensland, he and Intikhab Alam put on 116 in rapid time for the sixth wicket in the tourists' second innings.The New Zealand segment of the tour also revealed his batting potential. In the FirstTest at Wellington, New Zealand set Pakistan 259 to win and at one point they were 19 for 5 .Asif, at number eight, made a match-saving 52 not out. Nonetheless, his primary role in Pakistan's side appeared to be as opening bowler - he had learned much about swing bowling in English conditions while on tour with the Pakistan Eaglets in 1963.

 

 

In 1967, in the First Test at Lord's, he opened the bowling, dismissing Colin early on. England made 369. Pakistan were 99 for 6 when Intikhab joined Captain Hanif Mohammad in a stand of 40; then Asif put on 130 with Hanif. Asif made 76. Pakistan reached 354 and the game was drawn. England won the Second Ibe at Nottingham by 10 wickets.The Oval Test seemed to be going the same way when Pakistan, facing a deficit of 224, staggered to 65 for 8, the fast-medium swing ol Ken Higgs having accounted for five of the top six. That was the score when Jntikhab joined the number nine, Asif. They put on190 in 175 minutes for the ninth wicket, the record stand for that wicket in Tests until it was overtaken by Mark Boucher and Pat Symcox at Johannesburg in 1997/98, against Pakistan. Asif's 146 was the highest score made by a Test number nine until Ian smith's 173 for New Zealand against India in 1989/90. England needed 34 to win. Asif dismissed Colin  Cowdrey and Brian Close before they got them.

The records were splendid but they were in a sense beside the point. Asif seemed to be playing a different sort of game from anybody else involved in the series. Ken Barrington was England's leading run-scorer. He spent more than five hours making 148 at Lord's and almost seven hours making 106— with 6 fours - at Trent Bridge. Pakistan were not immune. When Close set them 257 to win in three and a half hours at Lord's Javed Burki and Khalid Ibadulla scored 8 runs in 40 minutes and 23 in the first hour.That was the way it was in 1967.

But not for Asif. Of course, you could say he had nothing to lose, but again that Was not really the point. He was upset by suggestions that a beer match would be Iput on to compensate spectators for an early finish and was determined that England bould bat again. There was nothing abandoned about his stroke making; he played :hls natural game, driving sumptuously and running quickly and eagerly between the wickets, always urging his partner on. In this great innings at The Oval,Asif made 50 out of 56 runs scored and reached his century in just over two and a quarter hours: the happy event was greeted by a tumultuous and rather alarming pitch invasion. In ill he batted for just over three hours, hitting 2 sixes and 21 fours.All the bowlers suffered, Higgs being hit for 5 fours after Asif had reached his century.

Kent snapped him up and he proved an immediate success.

He headed the batting averages in 1968. In 1970, the county won the championship for the first time Once 1913. Among the batsmen - who included three England players in Cohn Cowdrey, Brian Luckhurst and Mike Denness - it was difficult to ignore Asif, again not just because of the runs he made but because of the way he made them. He played a series of scintillating innings, often in the hunt for bonus points in he first innings that, in a tight campaign, could make all the difference. He was a match-winner at Cheltenham with a brilliant hundred on a crumbling wicket against Gloucestershire spinners John Mortimore and David Allen. He headed Kent's flint-class batting averages and was in prime form for the climax of the domestic season, the Gillette Cup final against one-day specialists Lancashire.

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Throughout the 1970s Asif was a key figure in Pakistan's middle order, usually batting at five or six.

His style, which remained predominantly as aggressive and entertaining as it was in 1967, meant that he was unlikely to be the most consistent batsman in the side, and he had his ups and downs. But he played some marvellous innings, often when they were most needed. He was seen at his best on Pakistan's tour of Australia in 1976/77. This was a compelling series played by two sides that, somewhat to the surprise of the home supporters, if not players, turned out to be evenly matched: Australia had comfortably beaten Intikhab's team, comprising many of the same players, in 1972/73. Pakistan's batsmen had one stroke of great good fortune in 1976/77 in that the fast bowler JeffThomson was injured in the field during Ole first innings of the First Test at Adelaide and missed the rest of the series. Pakistan were up against it in that game, conceding a first innings lead of 182, but they fought hack with style and determination in the second. Zaheer Abbas made 101 and

Asif batted with resolution and fluency to score a magnificent 152 not out in four and a half hours.

He put on 87 for the last wicket with Iqbal Qasim, who contributed 4 of them. The match was drawn. Australia overwhelmed the visitors in the Second Test at Melbourne, Dennis Lillee taking 10 wickets, but Pakistan achieved an historic victory at Sydney to secure a drawn series. The principal architect of that victory was lmran Khan, with 12 wickets, but Pakistan could not have won without Asif's brilliant century in the first innings. Australia had made only 211. Pakistan began confidently but kept losing wickets and the game was in the balance when Asif came in at 114 for 4. He added 94 with debutant Haroon Rashid and 116 with javed Miandad to give Pakistan a substantial lead.

The Australian tour was followed by an equally intriguing series in the Caribbean, won 2-1 by the hosts. Pakistan were confronted by a fearsome pace attack of Andy Roberts and, in their debut series, Cohn Croft and Joel Garner. Asif was not the only batsman to struggle. Pace had occasionally troubled him before: 'Butch'White of Hampshire gave him a rough time at Southampton back in 1968. Now he suffered more than most: 36 and 0 at Bridgetown; 0 and 12 at Port-of-Spain; 15 and 35 at Georgetown and 11 and 10 in the second game at Port-of-Spain. In the decisive Fifth Test at Kingston, he scored 5 in the first innings but finally came good in the second, Pakistan needed 442 to win when they began their second innings on the fourth morning but by lunch they had lost 3 wickets and when Asif came in the Score was 51 for 4. He was dropped on 9 but the reprieve seemed to jolt him into When he was stumped off the leg-spinner David Holford on the fifth morning Asif had scored 135 with a six and 20 fours. Pakistan were all out for 301.

Asif was one of five Pakistanis signed by Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, so his Test career was interrupted for a while; indeed, he initially announced his retirement from Test cricket. But, with the other Packer players, he returned for the all-important series against India in 1978/79. He made an attractive if slightly pointless century in the First Test at Faisalabad - the thirteenth successive draw between the two countries. But the other two Tests were different. Asif showed the value of his one-day experience in the two victories, each by 8 wickets, at Lahore and Karachi.At Lahore, Pakistan needed 126 in just over 100 minutes;Asif was 21 not out at the end. At Karachi it was much tighter: 164 in 100 minutes. Mushtaq shrewdly promoted Asif to open. Faced with defensive field placings Asif put on 97 in 9 overs with Javed Miandad for the second wicket before he was out for 44: Pakistan won with 7 balls to spare.That was an historic and celebrated triumph for Pakistan.Things were very different in the return series in 1979/80, when Pakistan made their first visit to India since 1960/61.Asif was the captain. He had been Mushtaq's vice captain for some years and had led the side in the World Cup campaigns of 1975 and 1979. Back in 1966/67 he had led Pakistan in a series against an England Under-25 team captained by Mike Brearley and there had been a feeling then that he might have been Hanif's natural successor. But he had had to wait. Adding to the piquancy of his appointment for what was bound to be a hugely significant series was the fact that, on that previous tour, he had actually played against the Pakistanis for South Zone at his birthplace, Hyderabad, taking 4 for 52.

It was not a happy return. Pakistan lost the series 2-0. There were all sorts of reasons. One of their best bowlers, Sarfraz Nawaz, was left at home. Imran Khan was injured for some of the time. Too many of their batsmen, Asif included, underperformed. Discipline was said to be lacking. It has since been alleged that it was an open secret that Asif was in touch with gambling syndicates. Imran told the Qayyum inquiry into match-fixing that the first time he heard about match-fixing was on that tour. Asif was later to run cricket in Sharjah; a venue that, rightly or wrongly, came to be regarded with a degree of scepticism. Be all of that as it may, Asif announced his resignation as captain before the final Test at Calcutta. Irnran said that Asif, always a lean and slight figure, lost a lot of weight in India because of the pressure.

It was a sad end to what had been a genuinely glittering international career. Still, that final Test in Calcutta had its consolations. It was his 59th Test; no Pakistani had played so many. And when he was out - run out - for 15 in the final innings - the last nail in the coffin of an always-improbable run-chase - he received a standing ovation from the crowd of 50,000 at Eden Gardens - every one of them Indian. Now that's not a bad send-off.

Full name Asif Iqbal Razvi

Born June 6, 1943, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

Major teams Pakistan, Hyderabad (India), Karachi, Kent, National Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan International Airlines

Nickname Jimmy

Batting style Right-hand bat

Bowling style Right-arm medium

Other Referee

Height 5 ft 9 in

Education Madrasah-i-Aliyah School, Hyderabad; Osmania University, Hyderabad; SM College, Karachi

 

Batting and fielding averages

 MatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100506sCtSt
Tests 58 99 7 3575 175 38.85     11 12 17 36 0
ODIs 10 8 2 330 62 55.00 466 70.81 0 5   7 0
First-class 440 701 75 23329 196 37.26     45     303 0
List A 259 244 30 5989 106 27.98     3 33   101 0
Bowling averages
 MatInnsBallsRunsWktsBBIBBMAveEconSR4w5w10
Tests 58 54 3864 1502 53 5/48 6/75 28.33 2.33 72.9 1 2 0
ODIs 10 10 592 378 16 4/56 4/56 23.62 3.83 37.0 1 0 0
First-class 440     8776 291 6/45   30.15       5 0
List A 259   5017 3272 126 5/42 5/42 25.96 3.91 39.8 3 1 0

 

By Bill Ricquier from "The Pakistani Masters"

Source: WikiPedia