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Pakistan’s sporting achievements in 75 years

On the diamond jubilee of Pakistan’s inception, GVS looks at the vibrant culture of sports and its history in Pakistan, which despite receiving little to low financial investment, has never faced a dearth of individual talent. The dominance shown by Pakistani players in cricket, hockey, squash and snooker speaks volumes about the resolve and capacity of the people in the country.

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Any sport, just like the arena of war, brings out the profound and deep-seated human sentiment. It stands for the Darwinian struggle that lies at the heart of life but not without imparting the essential virtues of sacrifice, humility, perseverance and fortitude. It instills in the heart and mind the vigor and zest that are indispensable companions on the arduous paths of every human endeavor. It would not be an understatement that a country without a sporting tradition is a mere conglomeration of listless individuals devoid of a living soul. Luckily Pakistan has been blessed with a vibrant culture of sports. It is truly said that history of Pakistan’s sports is nothing short of a Promethean saga. It is a unique blend of several lows and many highs. Despite financial woes and a morbid economy, there had never been a dearth of individual talent. The dominance in the fields of cricket, hockey, squash and snooker speaks volumes about the resolve and capacity of this otherwise beleaguered nation. One wonders how grand the scale of success would be in the absence of these political and economic shackles. To say the least, among few other good things, sports had always been the best part of Pakistan’s existence: it not only earned the country many a laurel but also bestowed upon it fame and popularity amidst the comity of nations.

Squash

Squash is the only “Single Player’s Sport” in which Pakistan has established a reputation on a global scale. Squash has made the nation proud so many times in the past 75 years. Pakistan has absolutely dominated squash like no other country in the globe for the best part of five decades. Between 1950 and 1997, Pakistan managed to win more than 30 British Open titles, 14 World Open titles, and many PSA professional titles. Squash in Pakistan achieved remarkable heights of success during the dominance of Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan in the 1980s and 1990s, despite the fact that they weren’t the game’s first players to succeed at it.

Jansher Khan set a record by winning the World Open eight times and the British Open six times. He made the record for the longest victory streak in the World Open as well as one of the longest streaks without a loss for any athlete competing in top-tier professional sports. Jansher spent 513 weeks as the top-ranked squash player in the world. He won 99 professional titles, eight World Open titles, and six British Open titles.

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Jahangir Khan is another Pakistani legend that graced the squash courts and ruled them for over a decade. Jahangir was unbeaten in every competitive match from 1981 to 1986. He won 555 consecutive matches, the longest winning streak by any athlete in any top-level professional sport in history as per records of the World Guinness Record. He won ten consecutive British Open championships. He remained unbeaten at squash’s most prestigious tournament between 1982 and 1991.

Hockey

In its national sport, Pakistan used to rule the world. What Pakistan has achieved in the past 75 in hockey is a thing to marvel. In Olympics, from 1956 to 1972, Pakistan hockey team played every final and earned two gold and three silver medals. From 1956 to 1984 Pakistan won a medal in hockey in every Olympics. Pakistan has won eight out of ten medals in Olympics through Hockey, three gold, three silver, and two bronze.

Pakistan won gold medals in 1960, 68 and 84 Olympics, Silver in 1956, 64 and 72, and Bronze in 1976 and 92 Olympics.

Pakistan also owns the world record of winning four international Hockey world cups in 1971, 74, 78 and 94. The National Hockey team has been the runner-up in the world cup editions of 1975 and 1990. Pakistan has the highest win percentage in world cup history. The country has won 53 out of 84 matches while 7 ended up in draw and lost only 24 matches.

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Pakistan has also won the International Champion Trophy three times in 1978, 80 and 84. The National Hockey field team also owns the record of winning eight gold medals in the Asian Games. Pakistan defeated India in the finals of 1958, 1962, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982 and 1990 to win the prestigious medal.

Pakistan’s corner specialist Sohail Abbas holds the record of scoring the most goals by an international player in Hockey. Sohail is the only player in international hockey to score more than 300 goals for his team.  He was also the fastest to score 100 and 200 goals, whereas he also holds a supreme record of one double hat-trick and 21 hat-tricks in international hockey. Sohail is regarded as the ‘King of the Drag Flick’, making him the ultimate penalty corner specialist.

Snooker

In 1994, Pakistan won the first significant victory in Snooker when Muhammad Yusuf won the world amateur snooker championship. Yusuf won the ACBS Asian Snooker Championship of 1998 which was held in Pakistan after defeating Thailand’s Prasom Ritthiprasong 8-7 in the final.

Pakistan also competed in the Asian Games snooker events in 1998 in Bangkok. Shokat Ali won the gold medal in the singles competition before teaming up with Saleh Mohammad to take home the bronze in the doubles competition. In the team competition, the Pakistani squad, which included Shokat Ali, Saleh Mohammad, and Farhan Mirza, also took home a bronze medal.

The 2006 IBSF Seniors/Masters World Championship in Amman, Jordan, marked Pakistan’s next significant triumph abroad. Mohammad Yusuf, who triumphed 5-4 over England’s experienced ex-professional Gary Wilkinson in the thrilling final, was Pakistan’s hero once again. This was Pakistan’s first significant Masters’ event victory on the world stage.

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For Pakistani snooker, 2010 marked the start of an incredible decade. In the same year, Pakistan’s Muhammad Sajjad was runner-up in the ACBS snooker championship held in Thailand. Two years forward in 2012, Muhammad Asif defeated Gary Wilson in the IBSF world snooker championship in a thrilling final to become the new world champion.

Pakistan also won the 2013 IBSF World Teams Snooker Championship held in Ireland. Pakistan’s team of Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Sajjad defeated India 3-1 in the quarterfinals, Ireland 3-2 in the semi-finals and Iran 5-3 in the final.

Pakistan snooker had yet another fantastic year in 2019. Zulfiqar Qadir and Babar Masih of Pakistan Team ‘2’ defeated India 3-2 to win the 7th Asian Team Snooker Championship in Doha. In the IBSF Snooker World Team Cup held at the same venue, Pakistan again remained victorious over India, when their team of Bilal and Asjad Iqbal won the final 3-1.

In March 2022, Pakistan’s Ahsan Ramzan won the IBSF world snooker championship after defeating Iranian Amir Srkosh in the final at the age of just 16. Ahsan Ramzan is the youngest player in history to win the title. This was the fourth IBSF snooker title by a Pakistani.

Cricket

In a deeply polarized nation on political, ethnic, social, and religious grounds, cricket is perhaps the only force that unites the country every time Pakistani team enters in the ground to play a game of cricket.  In the past 75 years, Pakistan’s cricket history evolved similarly to the country’s own history. At times, it looked like the gloomy days would never end and then at times green shirts behaved liked there is no force that can stop them from achieving what seemed impossible.

Pakistan cricket has achieved many accolades in its history. From defeating England at his home ground in England in 1954 to draw the test series to defeating India for the first time in world cups in 2021, Pakistani team presents a rich history. Despite the continuous challenges, Pakistan cricket team has achieved what only few would have forecast.

Pakistan played first game of international cricket in 1952 against India. Since then Pakistan has played 446 test games, 942 ODI matches and 190 t20 internationals.

Pakistan has won and ODI world cup in 1992 under the captaincy of Imran Khan. Younis Khan led Pakistan to win a t20 world cup in 2009 in England where green shirts defeated Sri Lanka in the finals.  Pakistan defeated India in 2017 Champions Trophy final under the captaincy of Sarfraz Ahmad. Pakistan has been runner-up once in ODI and t20 world cup.

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Pakistan’s Hanif Muhammad holds the record of playing the longest test innings in terms of minutes. He batted for 970 minutes against West Indies at Bridgetown, Barbados in the 1st Test from 17-23 January 1958.

Pakistan’s legendary left arm fast bowler and former captain owns the record of highest individual score while batting at number 8 position in a test match. He scored 257 not out against Zimbabwe in 1996. He smashed 12 sixes in the inning which is also the record of most sixes in a test inning by a better. He is the only in the history to have scored a double century and also dismissed more than 400 batters in test matches

Wasim Akram holds the record of most wickets at a single ground. He has taken 122 wickets in 77 games at Sharja during his international career. Left arm pacer was the first player to have hat tricks both in ODI and test, a record which was leveled by another Pakistani pacer Muhammad Sami.

Swing of Sultan owns the record of highest wickets in test and ODI cricket by a left arm fast bowler. He has 414 test wickets and 502 ODI wickets to his credit. He is widely considered as the greatest fast bowler of all times.

Pakistan’s speed start Shoaib Akhtar famously known as Rawalpindi Express owns the record of the fastest delivery in international cricket. On February 22, 2003 Akhtar recorded the fastest ever delivery in world cricket, clocking 161.3 kmph/100.23 mph, during a match against England.

Pakistan’s former captain and star all-rounder Shahid Afridi holds the record of most sixes in ODI cricket. He has hit the ball out of boundary for 351 times in ODIs. He has hit 476 sixes across formats in international cricket. Only Chris Gayle is ahead of him. Afridi also held the record of fastest international century for about 17 years. He smashed century on just 36 deliveries against Sri Lanka in his second international match. He also became the youngest batsman at 16 years and 217 days to score an international century. He is also the only player to have scored more than 8000 runs and taken more than 350 wickets in ODI cricket.

Pakistan’s former test captain and right hand batter Mohammad Yousuf also known as Pakistan’s run-scoring machine of his time owns the record scoring most test runs and most test centuries in a calendar year. In 2006 he scored 1788 runs in just 11 test matches, including nine centuries and three fifties at an average of 99.33.

Pakistan’s former captain and a legend of the game Waqar Younis holds the world record of most five-wicket hauls in ODI cricket. He has dismissed five or more than five batters on 13 occasions. He has also been successful in taking fourteen four-wicket hauls in ODIs. Waqar also owns the best bowling figure by a captain in an ODI. Skipper picked 7 wickets against England for just 36 runs in 2001.

Javed Miandad holds the record of scoring nine consecutive ODI fifties. Another Pakistani legend Zaheer Abbas, famously known as Asian Bradman and a prolific run-scorer in the 1980s for Pakistan holds record for the most runs in a four-match ODI bilateral series. He made 346 runs at an average of 86.5 and a strike-rate of 124.90 that series. In 1982, in a series against India where the Tests and ODIs were played alternately, Abbas made five successive international hundreds.  He is the first Pakistan batsman to get to the landmark of 4000 Test runs, and then the first to 5000. He is still second on the all-time rankings in ODIs with the rating on 931 only four points behind Sir Vivian Richards.

Pakistan’s former test captain Younis Khan is the only batsman in 145 years of test cricket to score 5 centuries in 4th innings of the test.

Pakistan’s former off spinner Saqlain Muhtaq hold the record of taking fastest 250 in ODI cricket. It took just 138 matches for the mystery spinner to reach 250 wickets.

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Pakistan also owns the record of producing the youngest bowlers to produce hat-tricks across formats. Aqib Javed at the age of just 19 became the youngest bowler to achieve a hat-trick in ODI cricket. Interestingly Mohammad Husnain, another young Pakistani pacer is the youngest bowler to achieve the same accomplishment in the T20 format also at the age of 19. Nasim Shah a young speed stat achieved this milestone in test cricket against Bangladesh at the age of just 16 years in February, 2020 in Rawalpindi.

Imran Khan averaged 52 with the bat and 20 with the ball in 48 Tests as Pakistan’s skipper and his phenomenal record earned him a place in Wisden’s all-time Test XI.

Pakistan’s current skipper Babar Azam holds the record of staying on the number position in t20 internationals for most days after breaking the record of Virat Kohli. Under his leadership, Pakistan won against India in 2021 for the first time in a world cup.

 

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