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Pakistan’s Best ODI Players of All Time

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Pakistan’s Best ODI Players of All Time

Although a fairly recent invention in cricketing terms, One Day International matches have proven to be a resounding success. Offering a quicker pace and more action than traditional Test matches, they have become very popular in the modern day. The use of coloured strips, a white ball and a limit on the number of overs each side faces brings extra glamour and interest to the game, especially for the casual observer.

The first One Day match was played in 1971 between Australia and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the idea has gone from strength to strength since then. Although the general laws and basics of cricket remain in place, there are some important differences. The first is that each team face a limited number of overs when batting; generally this is 50 overs. There are also certain restrictions on fielding positions and the amount of overs each bowler can bowl.

Pakistan is a country with a proud record in the One Day arena and we take a look at their ten best now:

10. Moin Khan

A slightly unusual inclusion on our list is wicket-keeping batsman Moin Khan. In truth, his batting was probably slightly better than his wicket keeping which gets him included here. A big hitter, Khan could score quickly and take a game away from the opposition. Especially good in a crisis, he has smashed many fours and sixes for his country over the years. A special mention goes to his super six against New Zealand in the 1992 World Cup semi-final.

He came into the world in 1971 and grew up in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Showing a talent with the wicket-keeping gloves when he took the game up, he also proved to have a knack for runs with bat in hand. Fine form domestically soon made him a popular choice for the One Day and Test teams for Pakistan.

Although he had a distinguished Test career, Khan was more suited to the One Day game and this showed in the 219 matches he played. He notched up 3,266 runs at an average of 23, which is respectable for his role in the team. He was most useful as a man to come in and smash some boundaries, as in the aforementioned game against New Zealand. Needing 9 runs from 8 balls, Khan nailed a six to leave Javed Miandad the easy task of hitting the remaining runs to win the match.

The biggest problem for his career was that another world-class wicket keeper was around at the same time for Pakistan in Rashid Latif. I think Latif was more of Test player though which is why Khan gets the nod here.

9. Saeed Anwar

A superb opening batsman for his country, Anwar was a classy but powerful player. His wristy style and aggressive attitude allowed him to score quickly, particularly against slow or medium paced bowlers. He made twenty centuries in the One Day format, which is more than any other Pakistani batsman in history.

Anwar was born and raised in Karachi, just like fellow great Javed Miandad. There must be some cricket magic in the water down there! Doing well at school, he was planning to travel to the USA for his Masters studies before deciding to become a professional cricketer. He progressed into first class cricket quickly and soon made his mark, coming to the attention of the Pakistani selectors.

He made his One Day debut in 1989 against the West Indies. In total, he notched up 247 matches and scored 8,824 runs, which shows his devastating power. He became the first Pakistani batter to score a century against India on Indian soil at One Day level. In the 1989/90 World Cup Series, Anwar showcased his sublime touch, playing nine matches and making 293 runs. His finest innings in this series was 126 against Sri Lanka at the Adelaide Oval where he destroyed the bowling attack on show that day.

Anwar played at three World Cups in all – the 1996, 1999 and 2003 tournaments. His record is superb, as he made 915 runs across all three. In particular, his efforts to produce three fifties in the 1996 World Cup is worthy of praise; although, he conjured many other fine innings over his career.

If you are thinking about Pakistan’s best ever One Day player, then this guy has to be considered. His quick run scoring and brutal power just blew other teams away.

8. Ijaz Ahmed

Known as ‘The Axe Man’ for his awkward technique and ability to destroy the bowling attack, Ijaz Ahmed was a superb player for Pakistan. He could hit bowlers to all parts of the field and find the boundary with ease. Also a great fielder, his energy in chasing down balls inspired all around him.

Raised in Sialkot, he was born in 1968 and progressed through the local school and junior teams quickly. He soon made it into domestic cricket and his fine form there caught the attention of the Pakistani selectors. They picked him for his limited overs debut in 1986 against the West Indies and he would go on to have a long and successful career for his country.

Coming into the national side at the height of the Imran Khan era, his work ethic and talent made him a regular member of the team. A powerful hitter of the ball, he became the second Pakistani batsman after Saeed Anwar to score 10 One Day centuries. These knocks included fine innings against countries such as Sri Lanka and South Africa.

In total, he played 250 One Day international games and scored 6,564 runs, which emphasises just why they called him ‘The Axe Men’.

7. Aamir Sohail

Along with Saeed Anwar, this guy formed arguably the greatest opening batting partnership Pakistan has ever had. An aggressive batsman, he could score quickly and had a breath-taking array of strokes in his armoury. Particularly strong square of the wicket, he could get runs for his team when needed.

Born in Lahore during 1966, Sohail grew up playing cricket from a young age and showed promise right away. This talent saw him make his debut for Lahore in 1983 at First-Class level and he would have a long career, retiring in 2001. He mainly played in Pakistan but did have a spell with Somerset in his final year. Playing a total of 195 First-Class matches, he made 12,213 runs at an average of 38.89, which is quite something.

He made his One Day debut for his country in 1990 against Sri Lanka and soon showed his expertise. His major achievement at this level was being part of the One Day team that won the 1992 World cup in Australia and New Zealand.

A natural leader, he captained his country in 22 One Day matches, winning 9 and averaging a respectable 41.5 with the bat. A colourful character, he will always be remembered in Pakistan for his spat with Ian Botham and famously telling Botham he should have sent his mother-in-law into bat after Botham getting out.

In all, he played 156 limited overs games and made 4,780 runs, which is a fine record to retire with.

6. Zaheer Abbas

Another man with a perfect nickname. They called Zaheer Abbas ‘The Run Machine’ – and with good reason. Abbas was a fluent, gifted stroke maker and had a graceful look to his play. In terms of style and impact, he was perhaps only second to Viv Richards in being ideally suited to the One Day game. His crowning achievement was scoring three One Day centuries in three consecutive matches in the 1982/83 season.

Born during 1947 in Sialkot, he effortlessly moved into the professional cricket scene from school and had a brilliant First-Class career. He spent thirteen years at Gloucestershire in England where he scored tons of runs. Amazingly, he scored over a thousand runs in each season he was with them.

At One Day international level, he played 62 games for his country and scored 2,572 runs at a 47.62 average. In fact, he was so free scoring that sometimes his team-mates had to ask him to slow down! Every bit as elegant as Don Bradman, Abbas was a powerful hitter who could destroy slow bowlers especially.

5. Mushtaq Mohammed

Until Imran Kahn came along, this man was widely considered Pakistan’s greatest all-rounder. A great tactician with an astute mind, Mohammed was a natural leader. He was a very useful leg-spin bowler as well as a fine batsman who could play anywhere in the order.

He grew up in Karachi and attended the Church Mission School where he discovered cricket. He began his First-Class career at just 13 but his age wasn’t a factor as he scored 87 and took 5 for 28! This led to him joining Northamptonshire from 1966 until 1977 In England before heading back to his home country. In all he clocked up 502 games domestically and made 31,091 runs – an unbelievable feat.

Making his One Day debut in 1973 against New Zealand, he played only 10 limited overs games due to the game being in its infancy. A list of the greatest One Day players for Pakistan has to include this man due to his sheer talent.

4. Javed Miandad

Javed Miandad is widely regarded as one of the best batsman to have played the sport and probably Pakistan’s greatest ever player in all disciplines. An explosive batter, Miandad had flawless technique and control. He could put the ball exactly where he wanted too and had the power to find the boundary. These attributes made him perfect for One Day cricket in which he excelled for Pakistan. A natural leader, he also went on to captain his country.

Miandad was born in 1957 and raised in Karachi. Cricket ran in the family as he had brothers and cousins who played at First-Class level so it was only a matter of time before he started playing too. Progressing quickly into the First-Class game, he made his debut for Habib Bank Limited in 1975 and played for them until his retirement in 1991. He also had successful spells in English cricket with Glamorgan and Sussex to add to his record. In total he played 402 matches and scored 28663 runs which gave him an average of not much over 53. Pretty impressive reading!

His debut at One Day level for Pakistan was in 1975 against the West Indies in that years World Cup. He played well and signalled his talent in this format and for playing at Test level also. His highest One Day score came against India in 1982 when he made 119 off just 77 balls. Miandad is one of only two players ever (the other is Sachin Tendulkar) to play in six world cups. That is a superb achievement and shows what an integral part of Pakistan cricket he was. Known as a great finisher of games, is you needed a couple of runs to win the game off the last ball, he was your man.

He eventually played 233 One Day matches and made 7381 at an average of 41.70 which is a fantastic set of figures to finish with.

3. Imran Khan

What a special player Imran Khan was. Supremely talented, he had a strong will to win and mental toughness to go with it. A destructive batsman, he could come in and steady the innings in a crisis as well as hitting out if needed. With ball in hand, he was not only quick but also had swing which was a deadly combination. His Yorker, in particular, was a very useful weapon for the limited overs game. Along with Mushtaq Mohammed, he is one of the greatest all-rounders Pakistan have produced.

Born during 1952 in Lahore, he was educated at Aitchison and Worcester schools. After that he went onto Oxford University in England which shows how agile and strong his mind is. Discovering cricket at the age of 13, he excelled in his school and university teams which led to a life as a professional cricketer. In all he played 382 First-Class games and scored 17,771 runs with 1287 wickets taken.

Pakistan soon came calling and he made his One Day debut in 1974 against England. He had an excellent career at this level for Pakistan with his personal highlights being a 102 not out with bat and 6 wickets for 14 runs with the ball. Playing 175 matches in all, he took 182 wickets and made 3709 runs.

2. Waqar Younis

A hero to many, Waqar Younis was a devastating and effective bowler. At one point the fastest bowler in the world, he was recorded as bowling at 150 km/h. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that delivery! It wasn’t just his pace that made him brilliant though – he could swing it like a banana and had a yorker that was simply deadly. Capable of running through an innings like no other, he was one of the most feared bowlers on the planet in his prime.

Born in 1971 in Vehari, he was playing cricket from a young age and honing his bowling skills. Beginning his First-Class career in 1987 for Multan, he had a lengthy career by the time he retired which included paying for a variety of clubs. He took 956 wickets in 228 games domestically, which shows how brutal his bowling was.

At One Day level, he made his debut in 1989 against the West Indies. His lightning quick pace and ability to take quick wickets in bunches made him perfect for the limited overs game. A particular highlight was a hat-trick against New Zealand in 1994. Totalling 262 limited overs games for his country, he took an impressive 416 wickets in all.

A simply fantastic player, Younis had pace and accuracy along with his feared reverse swing to make batsman tremble.

1. Wasim Akram

What a top player this man was – he was a very aggressive, fast bowler who combined accuracy with lethal guile. Towards the end of his career, he eased off the pace a bit but was still just as effective. With a miserly economy rate, also, he was the perfect bowler for the limited overs game. As testament to his talent, he was the first bowler to reach the 500 wicket mark in One Day games. In addition, he was a useful lower order batter who could hit it hard to put a few runs on the board.

Hailing from Lahore, Pakistan he was educated at the Government College Civil Lines in his hometown. He played for the school team and this began his rise to prominence in the game. Making his First-Class debut in 1985 for Lahore, he had a long career including a lengthy spell at Lancashire in England. He played 257 matches in total and claimed 1,042 wickets which is very special.

Making his One Day debut in 1984 against New Zealand under the captaincy of Zaheer Abbas, he came to prominence in 1985 against Australia in the third One Day international where he took 5 wickets. In all he played 356 games at limited overs level and took 502 wickets. A bowler with genuine hostility and pace, he could swing it both ways and had pin-point accuracy which made him a nightmare for batsman.

As you can see, Pakistan have really produced some fine players over the years especially in the limited overs arena. They seem to have a knack of producing explosive, exciting players who are naturally suited to the fireworks of the One Day game. There is no reason to think this will stop anytime soon so it’s worth keeping an eye on the next batch of stars to come off the production line for them.


Image Credit: rushdi13

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