Pakistan’s cricket diaspora: Hometown in Pakistan but played Tests for another country

October 25, 2020

Naoomal Jeeomal was a Karachi-born cricketer, who opened the batting in India’s inaugural Test against England at Lords in 1932


There is an unusual group of cricketers who were born in what constitutes Pakistan today but ended up playing Test cricket for other nations. For the first generation of Pakistani Test cricketers this list is slightly convoluted because of the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947.

Hometown in Pakistan but played for India

There are 10 cricketers, who were born in what is Pakistan today but played Test cricket for India. Three of them did so for undivided India before 1947, while six represented India after partition. One cricketer played for India both before and after partition.

Abdul Hafeez Kardar and Dilawar Hussain were both Lahore-born. Dilawar Hussain was a wicketkeeper-batsman who first played for India against the visiting England side in 1934. He top scored in both innings of this match, being one of the few Test debutants ever to do so. He played a total of three Tests for India scoring 254 runs at an average of 42.33 with 3 fifties. His last Test was in 1936 when he was studying at Cambridge. His son Waqar Ahmed was also a fine cricketer who toured England with the Pakistan team in 1967, and missed out on Test selection because he had to return early on account of his father’s death.

Abdul Hafeez Kardar

Kardar played three Tests for India on their tour of England in 1946. He became Pakistan’s first Test captain representing them in 23 Tests. Under his leadership Pakistan had the unique distinction of winning at least one Test in its inaugural Test series against each country they played against during that period. In all, he played 26 Tests, scoring 927 runs and capturing 21 wickets. After retiring from cricket Kardar had a distinguished career as a bureaucrat, politician and a diplomat. He was also President of the PCB and the first to propose neutral umpires.

Naoomal Jeeomal was a Karachi-born cricketer, who opened the batting in India’s inaugural Test against England at Lords in 1932. His career was ended by injury when he was hit on the face by the English pace bowler Nobby Clark in the Chennai Test of the 1933-34 series, leaving him with a half inch cut across his left eye. He played a total of three Tests for India scoring 108 runs at an average of 27.00.

Amir Elahi was born in Lahore and played a solitary Test for India on their tour of Australia in 1947-48. After partition he played five Tests for Pakistan, all against India. He was Pakistan’s first leg spinner and his Test tally is 7 wickets at an average of 35.4.

Gul Muhammad has the most interesting story of all. An attacking left-handed batsman, he toured both England in 1946 and Australia in 1947-48 with the Indian team. After partition, he initially opted to stay in India and played for them against Pakistan in the 1952 Test series in India. He eventually migrated to Pakistan in 1955 and played a solitary Test for them against the visiting Australians at Karachi in 1956. He scored 12 and 27 not out in this match and hit the winning run. In a Test career spanning nine tests, Gul Muhammad scored 205 runs at an average of 12.81. He is the only cricketer to have played both for and against Pakistan.

Gogumal Kishenchand was born in Karachi. He was a middle-order batsman and an occasional leg-break bowler who was elected the best schoolboy cricketer of Sind in 1939-40. He played five tests for India including one against Pakistan and has the unenviable record of scoring a duck in all five. His Test tally is 89 runs at an average of just 8.9.

Jamshed Khudadad Irani was a schoolboy prodigy who made his first-class debut for Sind at the age of 14. After partition this wicketkeeper-batsman toured Australia with the Indian team in 1947-48 and played in two Tests without any success, scoring just three runs and making three dismissals behind the stumps. He subsequently migrated to Pakistan and lived out his remaining days working for Habib Bank in Karachi.

Pananmal Hotchand Punjabi was another Karachi-born cricketer to play for India. He played five tests for India as an opener during their visit to Pakistan in 1955. In the 4th Test of this series he was bowled for 6 by Hanif Mohammad, which is the legendary batsman’s only wicket in Test cricket. In his brief Test career Punjabi scored 164 runs at an average of 16.40.

Manmohan Sood was born in Lahore but his family migrated to India after partition. A middle-order batsman he played a solitary Test for India against Australia in 1959 where he failed in both innings scoring 0 and 3 respectively.

Gulabrai Sipahimalani Ramchand is the last and arguably the most successful cricketer on this list of ten. Born in Karachi, Ramchand settled in Mumbai after partition. A hard hitting middle-order batsman and a medium paced swing bowler, thus talented allrounder was picked for the Indian team touring England in 1952. Over the next eight years he played 33 Tests for India, captaining them in 5. He led India to its first ever Test victory over Australia in 1959 and concluded his Test career after this series. In 33 Tests he scored 1149 runs at an average of 24.58 with two centuries. He also took 41 wickets at 46.31 apiece.

Born in Pakistan and played for England

Owais Alam Shah and Usman Afzaal are two Pakistan-born cricketers who have played Test cricket for England.

Owais Shah was born in Karachi in 1978 and represented England in six Tests from 2006 to 2009. A stylish batsman and a right-arm off-break bowler, Owais has a tally of 269 Test runs at an average of 26.90. His top score of 88 was made in his debut innings against India. He also played 71 ODIs for England.

Usman Afzal was born in Rawalpindi in 1977 and played three Tests for England against Australia in 2001. A left-handed middle-order batsman and an occasional left-arm spin bowler he scored 83 Test runs with an average of 16.60. He is related to the Pakistani Test player Fawad Alam.

Born in Pakistan and played for Australia

Usman Tariq Khawaja was born in Islamabad in December 1986. His parents emigrated to Australia when Usman was just five years old. He grew up in Sydney and gained selection for the Australian test side in 2011. A top-order left-handed batsman, he has played a total of 44 Tests for Australia, scoring 2887 runs at an average of 40.66 with 8 centuries. He has also represented Australia in 40 ODIs and presently captains the state side of Queensland.

He is the only Muslim and the only Pakistan born cricketer to play for Australia and is a qualified pilot by profession.

Born in Pakistan and played for South Africa

Imran Tahir was born in Lahore in 1979 into a low income family. This talented leg-spinner was working as a salesman in a shopping mall when he was selected for the Pakistan Under-19 team. He also featured in the Pakistan A team but failed to progress further. In 2005 he moved to South Africa and qualified to play for them in 2011. He made his Test debut against Australia in the same year and has since represented South Africa in 20 Tests, capturing 57 wickets at an average of 40.26 runs per wicket. He has also had a hugely successful ODI career for South Africa playing with great distinction in 107 ODI matches. Imran has a flamboyant bowling style and is a great exponent of the googly. He retains his links to Pakistan by playing in the PSL.

Born in Pakistan and played for Zimbabwe

Sikander Raza Butt was born in Sialkot in 1986. His ambition was to become a fighter pilot for the Pakistan Air Force but he failed to graduate from the training academy because of eyesight issues. His family moved to Zimbabwe in 2002 and Sikander went to Scotland for his education in software engineering. Here he played semi-professionally and took up the game seriously on returning to Zimbabwe. Soon after obtaining Zimbabwean citizenship he earned selection for their national side. His debut test was against Pakistan in 2013. A batting allrounder he has represented Zimbabwe in 15 Tests, scoring 1037 runs at an average of 34.56, with one century besides capturing 32 Test wickets at 41.81 runs apiece. He has also had a very successful ODI career for his adopted country.


Dr Salman Faridi is a senior surgeon, poet, sports aficionado and an avid reader with a private collection of over 7000 books. [email protected]

Pakistan’s cricket diaspora: Hometown in Pakistan but played Tests for another country