Asif would mount more rearguard challenges in his career like his 120 in the 1977 Sydney Test versus Australia or the 135 later that year against the West Indies in Kingston in a last ditch effort to save the fifth and final Test of the series
This week we conclude the story of the twenty two families of test cricket in Pakistan. Two of the three families discussed today have rather intricate connections which are not commonly known.
Asif Iqbal/Ghulam Ahmad/Shoaib Malik
This family has a convoluted connection with two separate arms. Ghulam Ahmad is the common link. He was Asif Iqbal’s maternal uncle. This is the first and simple arm. The second arm is the complicated one: the maternal aunt (khala) of Ghulam Ahmad’s wife was the paternal grandmother (daadi) of Shoaib Malik’s wife Sania Mirza, the famous ex-Indian tennis star. This link brings Shoaib into this family fold.
With Shoaib’s addition this family becomes the third family in Test cricket history to produce three Test captains, as Ghulam Ahmad captained India in three Tests while Asif and Shoaib have captained Pakistan in six Tests and three Tests respectively. The other families with this distinctive achievement are the Australian family of the Chappell brothers Ian and Greg and their maternal grandfather Vic Richardson and then the three Pakistani first cousins Javed Burki, Majid Khan and Imran Khan.
Asif began his cricket career in India playing in the Ranji Trophy. Picked to play for South Zone against the visiting Pakistanis in 1961 he took six wickets in the match. Pakistan’s captain Fazal Mahmood advised Ghulam Ahmad to send his nephew to Pakistan where he would have better cricketing prospects.
The advice was followed and Asif soon made his Test debut for Pakistan in 1964 as a bowling all-rounder. His transformation into a quality batsman really took place on Pakistan’s 1967 tour of England. In the first Test he made a quality 76 in a 130-run partnership with Hanif Mohammad for the eighth wicket while in the third and final Test Asif and Intikhab put together 190 runs for the ninth wicket. This stood as a 9th wicket world record partnership for thirty one years. Asif’s contribution of 146 is the fourth highest score by a number nine batsman in Test history.
Asif would mount more rearguard challenges in his career like his 120 in the 1977 Sydney Test versus Australia, that helped Pakistan to set up a match winning total, or the 135 later that year against the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica in a last ditch effort to save the fifth and final Test of the series. He has been dubbed as “A Specialist in The Impossible” by Alex Bannister.
Asif had a long stint in county cricket, playing for Kent and later captaining them. He was also an excellent fielder and one of the fastest runners between the wickets that the game has seen. After retirement he was instrumental in establishing Sharjah as a major cricketing centre.
Ghulam Ahmad was India’s first great off-spinner. He, along with Vinoo Mankad, set up India’s first ever win in Test cricket, achieved against England at Chennai in 1952. Later that year he displayed his batting skills as well in the first Test against Pakistan, when he partnered Hemu Adhikari in a last-wicket stand of 109. A bowler of great stamina he bowled 92.3 overs in an innings for Hyderabad against Holkar in 1951, a world record for the time.
Shoaib Malik is the third Test cricketer of this extended family. An exceedingly versatile player he started his career as a bowling all rounder, but now plays primarily as a batsman who is adept at all three formats of the game, namely Tests, ODIs and T20s. As part of his versatility he has batted at five different positions in Test matches and at every position except 11th in ODI’s.
Shoaib is one of eight cricketers who have played an in international match in four different decades. Shoaib has played international cricket in the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s. His 435 internationals are the fourth highest by any Pakistani cricketer.
Between them, in Test cricket, Asif Iqbal, Ghulam Ahmad and Shoaib Malik have scored 5665 runs with 14 centuries, while their wicket tally is 153. In first-class cricket they have accumulated 31,267 runs with 62 centuries and captured 958 wickets.
Ebbu Ghazali/Ijaz Faqih
Mohammad Ebrahim Zainuddin Ghazali, Ijaz Faqih
This is another complex family relationship. MEZ Ghazali’s sister was married to Ijaz Faqih’s maternal uncle and their daughter is Ijaz Faqih’s wife. Thus, Ghazali’s sister is Aijaz’s maternal aunt as well as his mother-in-law.
Ghazali began his first-class career in India as a right-handed batsman and off-spin bowler. He played in the inaugural first-class cricket match in Pakistan in December 1947, representing Sind against Punjab. His century in this match was the second century to be recorded in Pakistan’s first-class cricket history.
Ghazali played in Pakistan’s first ‘unofficial’ Test against the touring West Indies in November 1948. He was also in the team for the ‘unofficial’ Test series against the visiting MCC side in 1951-52.
Ghazali played in two Tests for Pakistan, both on the tour of England in 1954. In the Test at Manchester Ghazali earned the dubious distinction of being dismissed for a pair within two hours, the fastest in Test history.
After retiring from the game he functioned as an administrator and managed the Pakistan team on it tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1972-73.
Ijaz Faqih was a talented bowling all-rounder who never found a regular place in the national team. His two most notable achievements in Test cricket both relate to his batting. On Pakistan’s tour of India in 1986-87, Tauseef got injured before the 4th test at Ahmedabad. Ijaz Faqih was flown in as a replacement, arriving in the city at 1.30 am. Nine hours later he was on the playing field. Coming in to bat at number eight with Pakistan on 176 for 6, Ijaz Faqih and Imran put on 154 runs for the seventh wicket. This was then the highest seventh wicket partnership by Pakistan in Tests against India. Ijaz’s contribution was 105 and he reached both his fifty and his century with sixes off Maninder Singh. Despite scoring a hundred Ijaz was dropped for the next Test.
A year later in the second Test against the West Indies in Trinidad, Ijaz came into bat in the second innings at number 10, with Pakistan hovering on the edge of defeat at 311 for 8, chasing a target of 372. There were 22 overs left in the game but Ijaz and Saleem Yousuf defended stoutly until the first ball of the final over when Saleem was adjudged lbw leaving Qadir to come in and play out the final five balls to earn Pakistan an honorable draw.
In nineteen years of first-class cricket Ijaz Faqih’s best year was the 1985-86 season when he took 107 wickets, then a record haul for a Pakistani domestic season that beat Qadir’s previous record of 103 wickets.
Ebbu Ghazali and Ijaz Faqih have a cumulative Test aggregate of 215 runs with one century. They have 4 Test wickets between them. The corresponding first-class figures are 7759 runs, 16 centuries and 622 wickets.
The Afridi brothers
Riaz Afridi, Shaheen Shah Afridi
Riaz Afridi is a bowling all-rounder whose strength is his swing bowling. He played for the Pakistan Under-19 side from where he progressed to the national Test team. In his solitary Test match played at Karachi in 2004, he dismissed both Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardane. However, his subsequent participation in the ICL led to a two year ban that has greatly impaired his career progression.
Shaheen Shah Afridi is Riaz Afridi’s youngest brother and one of Pakistan’s latest fast bowling sensations. Capable of generating speeds of over 150 kph, this left-armer can swing the ball both ways and his height of 6 feet 6 inches gives him additional bounce and lift off the wicket. In a short career of less than three years since his first-class debut, he has made rapid strides and become a member of the Pakistan side in all three formats of the game.
In the World Cup in 2019 he became the youngest bowler ever to take a five wicket haul, when he finished with 6 for 35 against Bangladesh.
The Afridi brothers have captured 32 Test wickets between them while scoring just 51 runs. In first-class cricket hey have a tally of 381 wickets and 1659 runs including a solitary century.
A parting footnote on this series of cricket families, is the fact that Pakistan is the only country to have produced three sets of three Test playing brothers namely the Mohammad brothers, the Akmal brothers and the Elahi brothers.
Dr Salman Faridi is a senior surgeon, poet, sports aficionado and an avid reader with a private collection of over 7000 books.