On 14-August, 1947, the world saw the subcontinent divide in two countries: Pakistan and India. The stories of atrocities in the partition of different geographical, economical and social resources are well known; sports were no different. After partition, Pakistan had only two turf wickets, one in Karachi and other in Lahore. Pakistan just had one test cricketer. That man was Abdul Hafeez Kardar who was a part of the undivided Indian team which travelled to England in 1946 and was an open supporter of the idea of Pakistan.
Abdul Hafeez Kardar is regarded as 'the father figure of Pakistan's cricket'
Many people would bicker that cricket is just another sport, only cricket but the veracity is far from different in the subcontinent. You may be tempted to say that cricket matches should be just some sport matches but rather they are strikingly social events and a symbol of patriotism. During a match involving the national team, cricket becomes a national idea, a symbol of unity for everyone in the country. Victory becomes proof of the value of the nation, the flag and the national identity. There are traditional models of behavior, ways of reacting to both victories and defeats.
With such emotional sentiments attached, cricketers become the torchbearers of a nation, and as such an event on the country’s Independence Day they have to be at their best. The fans interest lies only in success, at any cost. Owing to international cricket scheduling, Pakistan had played much less cricket in August which means that even less of it has coincided with August 14. But fortunately, enough has for me to compile a list of some notable performances by our demigods on the day when an average Pakistani is equally patriotic to the cricketers. Some of the notable performances include:
Fazal Mahmood 6/53, Mahmood Hussain 4/58
England v Pakistan, 4th Test, August 12-16, 1954
The Chairman of the selectors Syed Makhdoomzada Hassan Mahmood and AH Kardar selected a young team to tour England on the country’s first away series. The average age of the team was around 24 years and eight of the 18 players selected to tour had not played an international game yet. The captain AH Kardar had played only eight including three for India. The inexperience of the team was quite evident as the team struggled against the English counties in the practice matches. The team had been 1-0 down when it reached the Kennington Oval for the fourth test, with draws in the first and third test owing to rains which saved them from certain defeats.
Pakistan was exposed first to the swinging ball in the fourth test but the start was delayed by more rain. In the first innings, Pakistan was bundled out for 133 with AH Kardar top-scoring with 36. England ended the first day with the no loss. The second day was washed out by rain and then came the third day: Independence Day 1954. The once-servants against their former masters; on the day of their Independence. Fazal Mahmood and Mahmood Hussain fully enjoyed the swing on offer due to overcast conditions, bowling out the English side to 130, three runs behind Pakistan. The pair shared 51.3 of the 59.3 overs bowled and all ten of the wickets. Fazal Mahmood took 6/53 while Mahmood Hussain ended with 4/58 thus becoming the first Asian opening bowling pair to share all ten wickets in an innings and orchestrating the way for Pakistan’s first test win on English soil. Fazal Mahmood ended the match with 12-wickets while the pair shared 17 wickets.
Fazal Mahmood(l) and Mahmood Hussain shared all ten wickets in an innings
29* off 11 balls and 10-1-36-3
Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Morocco Cup, 2nd match, August 14, 2002
In 2002, Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, the mastermind of cricket in Sharjah, sponsored Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa to play a tournament in Morocco. The three-team tournament was promoted as an idea to introduce cricket in North Africa with the added bonus of attracting audiences to Bukhatir’s newly formed channel Ten Sports. The games were played at the National Cricket Stadium in Tangier built with a whopping sum of £2,000,000, much of which was spent to make a luxurious grandstand for prominent guests and cricketers. Despite a winning bonus of $250,000, the tournament failed to attract substantial crowds. Bemused Moroccan students had to be lured to the ground with prizes and gifts to fill the stands.
The tournament started with Pakistan losing to South Africa in the opener. The next match was scheduled to be played on Pakistan’s Independence Day and it still remains the only limited overs match to feature Pakistan on August 14th. Pakistan was invited to bat first on a pitch which had supported fast bowling. Saeed Anwar and Inzamam-ul-Haq scored fifties to take Pakistan’s total to 229/5 in 46.2 overs before Abdul Razzaq came to bat. He struck 2 fours and 2 sixes in his innings of 29* in 11 balls adding another 50 runs to Pakistan’s total in just 22 balls and hitting Chaminda Vaas for 25 runs in the 49th over.
Razzaq blasted 29* off 11 balls in the crucial game against Sri Lanka
With the ball, he first broke the momentum by drying out runs and then took apart the backbone of Sri Lanka’s middle-order by striking out the set Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. He later sealed the match with a wicket in the final over. Surprisingly, his performance was not enough to earn him a Man-of-the-Match award which was handed out to Younis Khan for his 56*.
England v Pakistan, 4th Test, August 11-14, 2016
Pakistan’s tour to England in 2016 started with a victory at Lord’s, 20 years after their last win at the venue. The series was of much significance to Pakistan given it was their first return to England since the spot-fixing scandal in 2010. Mohammad Amir was on course to redemption and Pakistan’s batting was to be tried and tested. The once wild, electric and ill-disciplined Pakistan side was now a close unit which had gelled together to beat the best teams in UAE, but they needed to prove themselves outside home. A win at Lord’s mastered with patience and persistence, Pakistan’s team was brought down to earth in the next test at Manchester and then suffered a last hour surrender at Edgbaston. All was lost. The media and the fans were back to their normal self and were quite certain of a 3-1 win.
England chose to bat first in the fourth test, admittedly not a good idea as accepted by Alistair Cook in the post-match interviews. Sohail Khan led the bowling attack with his second five-fer of the tour. Pakistan responded with 542 that included a century from Asad Shafiq and a double-ton from Younis Khan. England started their second innings with a deficit of 214 runs and was reduced to 88/4 at the end of Day 3. It was Independence Day again on the fourth day of the test and the opposition was England, again. The Oval was filled with green flags and shirts. Neutral fans would have confused the venue with a stadium in Pakistan. Pakistan was on top but it took them 11 overs to taste first blood. Gary Balance edged one off Sohail Khan to Sarfraz, before Wahab Riaz joined in by removing the gritty Bairstow. Yasir Shah completed yet another five-fer while the debutant Iftikhar Ahmed ended the innings with his maiden international wicket.
Pakistan was left with a simple target of 40. Simple is not simple with Pakistan but it was Independence Day. The openers took their time and eventually in the 14th over, Azhar Ali, perhaps filled with patriotic belief, uncharacteristically sealed off the match with a six. The series was drawn at 2-2. A week later, after India’s washed out Test vs the eighth-ranked West Indies at Trinidad, Pakistan were crowned no. 1 in ICC Test Team Rankings for the first time since the introduction of rankings system.