By Omair Alavi
Pakistan may have produced many classy opening batsmen but none was as successful as Saeed Anwar who managed to score runs be it in whites or colored clothing, be it at home or abroad and was instrumental in making Sharjah Pakistan’s home away from home. The master blaster celebrates his 49th birthday today and we pick six of his best innings to mark the big day.
When Saeed dominated India in India – ODIs
It was Pakistan versus India in India and the hosts were boasting of their track record at home moments before the toss. Not many expected Saeed Anwar to make an impact as he was returning from illness and hadn’t played Cricket for a few months. However, from the very first ball, the master batsman was on the charge and despite using a runner for the better part of his innings, he dominated the Indian bowling as if they were minnows of the game. His innings ended at 194 – six short of what would have been the first double hundred in ODIs – yet he managed to break the record of the most number of runs in an innings previously held by Sir Viv Richards of the West Indies.
When Saeed dominated India in India – Tests
Two years later when Pakistan made its first Test tour of India in over a decade, Saeed Anwar showed the world what a class act he was! He managed to carry the bat in the second innings by scoring 188 not out and that proved to be instrumental in Pakistan’s victory especially since they scored less than Saeed Anwar’s second innings’ score in the first outing. It was the same match in which Shoaib Akhtar dismissed Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar off successive deliveries, and Pakistan had to end the match in front of empty seats after spectators at the Eden Gardens were shown the door for being unsporting.
When Saeed became the King of The Oval
Saeed Anwar proved to be instrumental in the team’s success over England in 1996, scoring more than 300 in the three-match series including 176 at the Oval. He scored twin half centuries in the opening Test as well but this innings was regarded as the best of the tour as he played shots all across the ground and defied bowlers to help his side post a target in excess of 400. Pakistan won the series 2-0 and Saeed Anwar continued his ascent as one of the best batsmen in the world!
When Saeed dominated Australia in Australia
The mighty Pakistanis of the 90s last won a Test in Australia in 1995 and they nearly won another on their next tour but lost to bias umpiring. That tour however featured Saeed Anwar at his best especially when he scored 119 runs at Gabba against a bowling attack that featured Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Damien Fleming. Pakistan lost the match but Saeed Anwar won over fans from Down Under for his gutsy batting in an innings where no one else crossed even 75!
When Saeed Anwar destroyed South Africa at Durban
Pakistan and South Africa didn’t play much cricket before the 90s due to the latter’s banishment from world sports; however they came back strongly in 1992 and defeated Pakistan in World Cup and later in bilateral series. In what was their third series and second in South Africa, Saeed Anwar unleashed his batting prowess against Allan Donald, Fanie de Villiers, Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener. His 118 in the second innings not only saw Pakistan post a first wicket stand of 101 but also helped them win the match by 29 runs. The match is also remembered for Shoaib Akhtar’s first-ever 5-wicket haul in Tests while Mushtaq Ahmed ended the match with nine wickets, including six in the final innings!
When Saeed made Sharjah his home ground
Before Saeed Anwar, Sharjah was known as the ground where Javed Miandad hit a last ball six to help Pakistan win its first ever Cricket tournament. During Saeed Anwar’s career, it was known as Pakistan’s home away from home because he hardly had a bad series there and whenever he came out to be, he didn’t disappoint. He became the second Pakistani after Zaheer Abbas to score three centuries in as many innings on this ground, which was a world record until Kumar Sangakkara made it 4 in 4 in 2015!