Legendary batsman Hanif Mohammad dies at 81

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KARACHI: Cricketing legend Hanif Mohammad died at the Aga Khan Hospital here on Thursday, a hospital spokesman confirmed.
The 81-year-old, who was suffering from lung cancer for which he underwent surgery in London in 2013, was shifted to the ventilator a couple of days ago after his health deteriorated.
Earlier today, reports of the cricketer’s passing away had surfaced after his son, Shoaib Mohammad, was ‘misinformed’ by doctors about his father’s death.
Shoaib Mohammad told reporters that his father’s heartbeat was faint and the family mistakenly believed that he had passed away but that he is still breathing and on the ventilator.
Hanif was admitted to the Aga Khan Hospital three weeks ago after he faced breathing problems, son Shoaib Mohammad told Dawn.com on Jul 31.
The Little Master’s namaz-e-janazah will be offered on Friday at Masjid-e-Noumani, Al-Hilal Society Karachi, Shoaib informed DawnNews.

‘He was a fighter’
Shezar Mohammad, Hanif’s grandson, while talking to DawnNews said: “My granddad was a fighter. The way he fought for his life today proves that. He loved me the most and used to sit hours with me so I could play computer games. He was my best friend.”

The man with nerves of steel
Born on Dec 21, 1934, in Junagarh, the ‘Little Master’ played 55 Test matches for Pakistan between 1952 and 1969, averaging a fine 43.98 comprising twelve hundreds.
The right-handed batsman was one of the country’s early cricketers who played an integral role in Pakistan achieving Test status.
Pakistan was granted Test status after the team rode on Hanif’s invaluable 64 runs at the top-order to win a four-day first class contest against Marylebone Cricket Club, chasing down a daunting 288-run target at the Karachi Gymkhana cricket ground.
Regarded as the most compact batsman in the world during his playing days, Hanif could bowl with both arms. He also kept stumps at the competitive level at various occasions.
Hanif, a man with nerves of steel often weathered storms with his immaculate technique when Pakistan’s batting line-ups collapsed.
His phenomenal 16-hour-long 337 against West Indies at Bridgetown – which saved Pakistan from imminent defeat – will be always be alive in history books. It remains the longest innings in Test history and was the longest in all first-class cricket for over 40 years.
It was also the only Test match instance of a triple century in a team’s second innings until it was equaled by New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum against India in 2014.
In 1958-59, Hanif surpassed Sir Don Bradman’s record for the highest individual first-class innings. Hanif made 499 before being run out attempting his five hundredth run. This mark stood for more than 35 years before being surpassed by Brian Lara in 1994.
In all, Hanif made 55 first-class centuries and finished with a strong career average of 52.32.
Hanif was named as Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1968. In January 2009, Hanif, along with two other Pakistani players (Imran Khan and Javed Miandad) were part of the inaugural batch of 55 inductees into the ICC’s Hall of Fame.
 

Obituary: In a league of his own

JAFFER BILGRAMI 

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Hanif Mohammad, who died in Karachi on Thursday after battling with cancer for years, was rated in his heyday as one of the greatest batsmen in the world. Millions of his countrymen and followers of the game across the globe are in deep mourning for a cricket icon who symbolised classical technique and formidable defence.
The original holder of the title ‘Little Master’ before it was also bestowed on Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, the two Indian batsmen of subsequent generations, Hanif was born in Dec 1934 in Junagadh, India. He was the third son of Ameer Begum, a regional badminton champion of pre-partition days.
Hanif moved to Pakistan with his family after independence and grew up in Karachi. In domestic cricket he first represented Bahawalpur, later playing for the Public Works Department, Karachi, and finally Pakistan International Airlines. In the national side, his role as a sheet anchor of his team’s batting is the stuff of cricket folklore.
Hanif didn’t depend on natural ability alone; he combined it with a sharp cricketing intellect to write many historic chapters in the annals of Pakistan cricket.
Right-hander Hanif was known for his astonishing powers of concentration, tenacity and endurance. He was intuitive as well as mechanical in his approach — a trait often described as a deadly combination that can frustrate any bowler in the world. All through his cricketing career, he proved himself to be a batsman who was the perfect judge of a ball and one who would never lift the ball heavenwards as a result of an erratic stroke. His strokes were straight out of the coaching manual and at the same time pleasing to watch.Initially groomed and trained by Master Abdul Aziz at Karachi’s Sindh Madressah, his talents were immediately recognised.

No coaching needed
Former Surrey paceman Alf Gover, who ran a coaching facility in London where Hanif was sent, was amazed by his technique and declared that the boy had at his disposal all the strokes that were in any textbook; hence no coaching was required.
Hanif’s mental strength and grit were most famously in evidence when he played the longest innings in the history of Test cricket — 16 hours and 10 minutes against the mighty West Indies at Bridgetown, Barbados, in 1958.
The marathon innings rescued Pakistan from the jaws of an ignominious defeat to a respectable draw.It was an ideal stage for Hanif Mohammad to display his batting genius and unflappable temperament. And he did just that. His monumental innings of 337 was not only a match-saving knock but also a study in fearlessness and determination.
Another record-setting knock came the very next year when Hanif scored 499 at the Karachi Parsi Institute ground in a first class fixture. The momentousness of the innings can be gauged from the fact that the Little Master’s name came to be bracketed with that of the legendary Don Bradman, who had 452 to his credit, before Brian Lara surpassed it with 501 not out 35 years later.Hanif’s Test debut came at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground, New Delhi, in Oct 1952. The match was also Pakistan’s first. He played under the captainship of A. H. Kardar, Fazal Mehmood and Javed Burki, before leading Pakistan himself. In the 55 tests that he played from 1952 to 1969, he averaged 43:98 with 12 hundreds to his credit.Without any doubt,
Hanif was an idol of the post-partition generation, and in some cases a boyhood hero for many lovers of the game.Unfortunately, like many of his contemporaries Hanif did not get the limelight he deserved since there was very limited cricket activity during the 1950s and 60s; his feats remained confined to print and radio commentaries.Black-and-white clips of television recordings stored in archives may still provide some consolation to those eager to see Hanif Mohammad in action in his peak. He was a sportsman who transformed the game of cricket into the nation’s pride.
Countless cricketers arrived on the national scene in different eras and left impressive records, but Hanif left an indelible mark in the annals of Pakistan cricket. He was more than a batsman; he was the personification of a complete and accurate cricketer.After taking his bow from cricket, Hanif served PIA by managing its sports wing and continued his contribution to Pakistan in another way — by scouting raw talent and polishing it into gems.
Pakistan Television was another organisation that availed the services of the legend and used his knowledge about the intricacies of the game in its transmissions.Outside the cricketing world, there is an episode that speaks volumes about the legend that he was.
Radio journalist Hamid Jalal, a nephew of master storyteller Saadat Hasan Manto, wrote in one of his pieces that his uncle had very few unfulfilled desires before he left for his final abode.His one desire was to witness his beloved cricketer in action. Manto’s cricketing knowledge may not be a yardstick, but in the passing of Hanif Mohammad, the cricketing world has lost a complete cricketer.

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