Karachi All-Time XI: The best of the Karachi boys:
Karachi, a city of 17 million residents and a transportation and business hub in Pakistan, has a history of producing great cricketers over the years. Karachi is the largest city in Pakistan and the twelfth-largest city in the world. It is the capital of the Pakistani province of Sindh.
The former capital of Pakistan and powerhouse of domestic structure, Karachi, is known for producing credibly talented, composed and legendary cricketers, capable of holding their own against any all-time World XI. It got me thinking that it would be interesting to see who makes it to all-time Karachi’s XI in the red ball format.
Selection criteria include:
Players who migrated from India to Karachi.
Cricketers who were born in Karachi.
Players who played their whole domestic cricket from Karachi.
While talking about the opening slots, the first and the easiest choice is Hanif Mohammad, the “Little Master.” Hanif Mohammad, the resilient batter, was born in Gujarat (India) and migrated to Karachi (Pakistan). Since 1947, the year when Pakistan came into being, Hanif Mohammad has held the record of being the youngest Asian to score a triple century and the longest innings by minutes in Test cricket. Hanif Mohammad played 55 Test matches for Pakistan, scoring nearly 4000 runs with 12 hundred and 15 fifties at an average of 43.98. Besides his excellent international career, Hanif Mohammad holds a staggering domestic record with over 17 thousand runs.
Both brothers, Sadiq Mohammad and Shoaib Mohammad, along with Khurram Manzoor, were neck and neck for the second opening spot. Although Shoaib Mohammad has a slightly better international record than other contenders, as in red-ball cricket, Sadiq Mohammad has dominated Pakistan’s domestic cricket for many years. Many fans may be upset seeing Shoaib Mohammad, a player with an inhuman power of concentration, being dropped. However, most of them will agree that Sadiq Mohammad, with 24000 runs and 50 hundred, is the best choice for 2nd position, if we talk specifically about cricketers from Karachi. Plus, the unbeatable left and right-hand duo will make the brothers’ partnership more lethal.
At crucial 3 and 4 number positions, there was and is never a debate about who from the Karachi boys will bat other than Zaheer Abbas and Javed Miandad. Zaheer Abbas, known as “Asian Bradman,” was a delight for sore eyes. The Asian great scored 108 first-class hundreds and 34 thousand runs. Although Zaheer played more cricket at no.5, with this lineup, adjustments have been made to keep up the team’s balance. Javed Miandad, on the other hand, is considered Pakistan’s best middle-order batter to this date. With over 28000 first-class runs, enough has been said about Miandad as a batter. Javed Miandad will also be the best choice to captain this all-time Karachi XI, having the second-highest win percentage for Pakistan as a Test captain minimum of 30 Tests.
As we scroll down, things get more strenuous and challenging, as Karachi contains a factory of good low-order batters. At no.5, two great domestic performers, Fawad Alam and Hassan Raza, with more than 13 thousand FC runs each, are the strongest contenders. Although it is difficult to drop any of them, I had to go with Fawad. Not because he has scored more runs than Hassan Raza, Alam was a helpful bowler with 60 first-class wickets. Fawad scored 14526 runs with 43 hundred and 70 fifties and also represented Pakistan in 19 Test matches, scoring over a thousand runs with three hundred. He also scored a century on his test debut against Sri Lanka.
At no.6, two stunning right-handers, Asad Shafiq and Faisal Iqbal square off. Both have over 10,000 runs in first-class cricket. However, Asad Shafiq is chosen over Faisal Iqbal because he has more traditional technique, is effective against both spin and fast bowling, and has more international cricket experience. Asad Shafiq has 12 Test hundreds. He has played 77 Tests for Pakistan, scoring over 4000 runs and 27 fifties. His memorable Gabba century is still the best by a Pakistani batter in Australia in the last ten and a half years. His ability to score in seaming and bouncing conditions in England and Australia has earned him a spot in Karachi’s all-time XI as first-choice number six.
There was a long contemplation over whether to choose Rashid Latif/Wasim Bari, who have better wicket-keeping skills than Sarfaraz, or Sarfaraz, who has more runs than both Rashid Latif and Wasim Bari. There is no doubt all three are outstanding performers. Still, given Karachi’s powerpack batting line and my belief that Test cricket necessitates a keeper with good keeping skills rather than batting, Rashid Latif is chosen over Sarfaraz and Bari. Rashid, as a wicket-keeper, has a higher dismissals-innings ratio than Waseem Bari and Sarfaraz Ahmad. Rashid Latif can also serve as the vice-captain of this side and deputy to Miandad.
That leaves us with four slots for the bowlers to fill – two spinners and two fast bowlers. An intense clash between two Karachi and Pakistani greats, Intikhab Alam Khan and Mushtaq Mohammad, to fill the all-rounder category took place. With Intikhab Alam Khan having 14 thousand first-class runs and 15 hundred first-class wickets in his kitty, and Mushtaq Mohammad with 31 thousand first-class runs and nine hundred first-class wickets, there was little to separate these two phenoms, as both were leg-spinners. Mushtaq Mohammad dubbed a “born cricketer,” was chosen over Intikhab Alam because the proactive leggy has better batting and bowling skills than his counterpart.
Slow left-arm orthodox Iqbal Qasim was picked for the second spin-bowling option. Iqbal Qasim has 171 international and 999 first-class wickets. Although another left-arm orthodox in the shape of Nasim-ul-Ghani is available, considering the vast experience of Iqbal Qasim there is no hesitation in choosing him as the number nine for all-time Karachi XI.
That leaves us with two quick bowlers. Mohammad Sami was picked at no.10. On his day, he could be a nippy proposition, and 600 first-class wickets aren’t bad for a city known for its batters. Furthermore, Sami is adept at wielding the long handle. Saleem Jaffar will come in at 11. With over 250 Test wickets and an enviable ability to remove an opener or two with the new ball and a couple of batters later in the order with his reverse swing, he quickly makes the XI. Asif Iqbal is a questionable prospect in this situation. Asif Iqbal is more of a batting all-rounder, so with a strong batting unit, the team requires a proper fast-bowler to complement Mohammad Sami.
For the 12th man, I went with a local batting all-rounder and right-arm off-break bowler, Saeed bin Nasir. Ignoring many Karachi all-rounders and picking a relatively unknown name might seem silly, but as I told you earlier, some adjustments have been made to keep up the team balance. As you can see, the team has a right-handed batter, a left-handed batter, a proper wicket-keeper, a leg-spinner, a left-arm spinner, a left-arm fast bowler, a right-arm fast bowler, and a finger-spinner. Besides all these options, the team needs an off-break bowler. So to give the captain the chance of an off-break bowler, Saeed bin Nasir was picked.
So, is this island team capable of competing against any world XI? Without a doubt, no. However, this team is far from a shabby XI and has the ability to breathe fire with their extraordinary cricketing finesse.
The all-time Karachi XI:
Javed Miandad (captain)
Rashid Latif (wk/vc)