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The enigmatic Anwar

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Saturday, August 16, 2003, 17:02 [IST]
 
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Bangalore: Pakistan opener Saeed Anwar's decision to retire from international cricket was on the cards ever since the ignominious exit of Pakistan in the first round of World Cup 2003. However, Anwar delayed the inevitable still expecting a call from the selectors, but in vain. The elegant southpaw from Karachi who holds a computer-engineering diploma will forever be remembered for his world-record knock of 194 that he made against the Indians on a scorching Chennai wicket. The veteran of 54 Tests and 247 One-day Internationals became a devout Muslim sporting a flowing beard ever since the death of his daughter two years back. But he tried to make a judicious balance between the game and religion. In his own words, ''I have read Quran, more than about Don Bradman, but I still enjoy playing the game. Turning to religion has not ended my love for the game." Even though he had a dreadful start to his Test career at Faisalabad against the West Indies in 1990 with a pair, he had the privilege to bow out graciously with a century against Bangladesh at Multan 12 years later. The desert venue of Sharjah has been a happy hunting ground for him. He had scored back-to-back hundreds there in '93 to mark his arrival. Along with fellow left- handed opener Aamir Sohail, he formed a formidable opening pair for a few years. He even had a brief stint with captaincy as the game of musical chairs Bangalore: Pakistan opener Saeed Anwar's decision to retire from international cricket was on the cards ever since the ignominious exit of Pakistan in the first round of World Cup 2003.

Saeed Anwar However, Anwar delayed the inevitable still expecting a call from the selectors, but in vain.

The elegant southpaw from Karachi who holds a computer-engineering diploma will forever be remembered for his world-record knock of 194 that he made against the Indians on a scorching Chennai wicket.

The veteran of 54 Tests and 247 One-day Internationals became a devout Muslim sporting a flowing beard ever since the death of his daughter two years back. But he tried to make a judicious balance between the game and religion. In his own words, ''I have read Quran, more than about Don Bradman, but I still enjoy playing the game. Turning to religion has not ended my love for the game."

Even though he had a dreadful start to his Test career at Faisalabad against the West Indies in 1990 with a pair, he had the privilege to bow out graciously with a century against Bangladesh at Multan 12 years later.

The desert venue of Sharjah has been a happy hunting ground for him. He had scored back-to-back hundreds there in '93 to mark his arrival. Along with fellow left- handed opener Aamir Sohail, he formed a formidable opening pair for a few years. He even had a brief stint with captaincy as the game of musical chairs with the Pakistani captaincy went on.

Traditionally a strong player on the on side, he had everything in his stride -time, timing, technique, strokes and all the natural flamboyance associated with a left- hander. Anwar, however, had his shortcomings against the rising stuff. Quite often the critics wrote him off as a "flat track bully". However he silenced them with tons in his kitty at the Gabba, Basin Reserve and the Oval.

He always reserved his best against archrival India. His career-best knocks in both forms of the game have come against them, and even in the last match that he played against India in the World Cup at Centurion, he scored a priceless 101, even though the team ended on the losing side.

He says, "I am retiring on a high note, but I am disappointed."

Yes, he should be, for his unfulfilled desire to score a triple hundred against Indians. Also, for the defeat in the '96 World Cup quarter-final and the subsequent fine that he received in the post match-fixing saga. Let us hope that he continues to contribute to the game that gave him so much fame, name and shame in whatever role as possible - be it as a coach or in front of the microphone. with the Pakistani captaincy went on. Traditionally a strong player on the on side, he had everything in his stride -time, timing, technique, strokes and all the natural flamboyance associated with a left- hander. Anwar, however, had his shortcomings against the rising stuff. Quite often the critics wrote him off as a "flat track bully". However he silenced them with tons in his kitty at the Gabba, Basin Reserve and the Oval. He always reserved his best against archrival India. His career-best knocks in both forms of the game have come against them, and even in the last match that he played against India in the World Cup at Centurion, he scored a priceless 101, even though the team ended on the losing side. He says, "I am retiring on a high note, but I am disappointed." Yes, he should be, for his unfulfilled desire to score a triple hundred against Indians. Also, for the defeat in the '96 World Cup quarter-final and the subsequent fine that he received in the post match-fixing saga. Let us hope that he continues to contribute to the game that gave him so much fame, name and shame in whatever role as possible - be it as a coach or in front of the microphone.

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