Zaheer Abbas: An Asian Bradman
Admin 25 July 2019 0 comments
Not only was his elegant batting a rare treat in an era where stodgy occupation of the crease was the norm, the sheer weight of runs he scored for Pakistan in the troublesome number three position made him one of the predominant batsmen of his era that is why Zaheer Abbas was dubbed the Asian Bradman.
Zaheer Abbas known as The Legend of Pakistan was born on July 24 in 1947 in the Sialkot region of Punjab. His full name is Syed Zaheer Abbas Kirmani and he was a right handed batsman with a bowling style of right arm off-break.
Zaheer Abbas was a colossus in Pakistani cricket. Many would not have imagined that Sir Donald Bradman would be re-incarnated in such a way. Such was his gargantuan run-making ability that many labeled him as the 'Asian Bradman'. Many observers of the game, at the start, did not regard Abbas too highly. They reckoned that he had a faulty technique and that his high back lift would not work against pace bowlers. However, he silenced all his critics when he scored an unbeaten 274 against England at Edgabston in 1971 tarnishing the English side and letting the bowlers of England helpless and not finding any opening in his batting. The Egnlish side gave up and this allowed Pakistan to reach 608/7 declared. England could not avoid the follow-on but managed to avert defeat thanks to a solid batting display in the second innings.
He continued to score runs and in 1974 yet again against England he scored a mammoth of 240. His appetite for runs never ceased as he continued to plunder runs against Australia in their own den. He ended up as the leading run-scorer in the three match series against Australia with 343 runs at an average of 57.16. The key to his run scoring techniques was the use of his wrist and how great his timing was against the opposition. He scored 12 Test Centuries out of which half of them were against our arch rivals India averaging a whopping 87 and brought up several records against them.
During the 1978 series against India, he scored 583 runs in five innings at an average of 194, was a world record at that time. More pain followed for India in the 1982/83 series. He started off with another double century and racked up centuries in Lahore and Faisalabad as the Indian bowlers found no answers to his batting prowess. At one point, during India's tours to Pakistan in 1978 and 1982, he ended the careers of several Indian spinners. Bishen Singh Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna and Duleep Doshi were some of the men whose career came to a halt due to Zaheer's brutal assault. Sunil Gavaskar has said on commentary that the team used to refer Zaheer as 'Zaheer Ab bas karo', which means 'Zaheer stop it now' in Urdu and Hindi.
Abbas is the only Asian player till date to score a century of centuries in first-class cricket. The 100th first class century was a double ton that he scored against India at Lahore in 1982. He was indeed the man for the big occasion. He managed to captain the country only when Imran Khan was ruled out due to injury. However, by that time, old age had dulled his reflexes and he struggled to cope up against pace bowling. He retired from the game in 1985.
He remains one of the most important personalities in Pakistan cricket even today. For modern Pakistan batsmen, the benchmark for greatness has and will always will be Zaheer Abbas.