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The Pakistani genius

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Last updated on 06 Sep 2023 | 09:41 AM
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The Pakistani genius

Born on September 6, 1968, Saeed Anwar still holds the stiil uncharted feat of scoring three consecutive ODI hundreds

An engineer, an ardent preacher of the Islam religion, and a prolific left-handed batter, Saeed Anwar had talent bestowed upon him from the very beginning. Born on September 6, 1968, the flamboyant Pakistani opener still holds the still uncharted feat of scoring three consecutive ODI hundreds.  

For the Indian cricket fans, Saeed Anwar was a freak of nature who always scored big against the arch-rivals. In the 50 matches Anwar played against India, he tallied 2002 runs with an average of 43.52 and a strike rate of 90.58. He scored four centuries and eight fifties against the Men in Blue, the most famous being the one in 1997 in Chennai, where he scored 194 runs.

Anwar’s 194-run knock had broken the then-highest individual ODI score of 188 by Gary Kirsten. It remained the highest score for 12 years before Charles Coventry’s 194-run innings in 2009 overtook it. That was, however, later broken by both Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.    

Sharjah was his favourite hunting ground, where he scored three centuries one after the other during the 1993 Champions Trophy against Sri Lanka, West Indies, and Sri Lanka, respectively. 

The USPs of Anwar’s batting were impeccable timing and mesmerizing placements - qualities that a batter can only be born with. An aggressive batsman who gave Pakistan rapid starts almost regularly, he could exploit the offside for boundaries even if the bowler placed nine fielders there. He used minimum footwork to guide the ball on the off-side, which looked effortless to the eyes.

Widely counted amongst the best ODI openers and arguably the best Pakistan ever produced, Anwar amassed 8824 ODI runs with 20 centuries and 43 half-centuries to his name at a strike rate of 80.67. 

Legendary Pakistan cricketer Ramiz Raja had described Anwar as a batsman who “... [Anwar] used an eclectic approach to batting – classical betrothed to unorthodox, footwork against spin as quick as a hiccup supple yet powerful to brush the field like a Picasso."

Anwar wasn’t as great a Test batsman as he was in ODIs, but he still was the best opener that Pakistan had in the longest format. Anwar had tallied 4052 runs with an average of 45.52 that had 11 centuries and 25 fifties, with his highest being an unbeaten 188 runs.

For the 90s kids, Saeed Anwar was an iconic cricketer who was a World Cup star. The southpaw played three ICC ODI World Cups in 1996, 1999, and 2003, amassing 915 runs in 21 matches with three centuries and three half-centuries with an average of 53.82 across three editions.

Anwar became a household name in 1996 when he made three consecutive fifties and a special 48-run knock against India in Bangalore, albeit in a losing cause. He further took it up a notch in 1999 with consecutive tons against Zimbabwe and New Zealand, scoring 368 runs in that edition. 

However, just when Anwar was on the brink of fulfilling his potential, his daughter passed away in 2001 and the player anno0unced a hiatus from cricket. The incident had a deep impact on him as he was seen preaching Islam across the nation with the Tablighi Jamaat.

When Anwar decided to return to cricket, he wasn’t the same batsman anymore. However, he still managed to score a century against India, which was his 20th and last career ton. He would eventually retire from cricket after being dropped for a home series against Bangladesh.

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