Majid's century before lunch

Majid’s century before lunch

By Qamar Ahmed - February 11, 2018

A century before lunch on the first day of a Test is a rarity. Only five batsmen since the first Test in 1877 have done that — our own Majid Khan and four Australians. The latest is David Warner, who scored 113 against Pakistan at Sydney in 2016-17.

Before Majid, Victor Trumper, Charles Macartney and Don Bradman had done that.

But I am privileged to have watched Majid score that blistering century against New Zealand at the National Stadium, Karachi, in the 1976-77 series which Pakistan won by a margin of 2-0.

I didn’t have the opportunity of watching the Australians reach that feat because Trumper, Macartney and Bradman played before my time. I met Bradman for the first time in 1983 in Adelaide and I was not present at SCG to see Warner score that hundred against Pakistan.

But I am privileged to have watched Majid score that blistering century against New Zealand at the National Stadium, Karachi, in the 1976-77 series which Pakistan won by a margin of 2-0.

Majid's century before lunch 2

I had come from England to cover that series and having watched Pakistan beat the visitors in the first two Tests played at Gaddafi Stadium and Niaz Stadium, I hoped to see Pakistan have a clean sweep but the third and final Test ended in a draw through lapses in the field by Pakistan, especially by the debutant keeper Shahid Israr.

In the first Test Javed Miandad made his debut and scored 163. Asif Iqbal made 166. New Zealand off-spinner Peter Petherick made his debut and took a hat-trick with Miandad, Wasim Raja and Intikhab Alam his victims.

Majid’s contribution as an opener was insignificant as he made 23 and 21.

In the second Test at Hyderabad where Mushtaq Mohammad scored 101, Asif Iqbal 73 and Sadiq Mohammad 103 in a total of 473, Majid missed his hundred by only two runs.

While Don Bradman was 105* at lunch in that innings, Majid at lunch was 108*. After lunch, he got out on 112. His innings lasted 113 minutes in which he faced 74 deliveries, scoring with Sadiq 147 runs

Richard Hadlee, Richard Collinge, the left-arm pacer, Lance Cairns, spinner David O’Sullivan and Petherick were all having their share of punishment.

At Karachi there were about eight to ten thousand people on the first day. I was sitting under a marquee. The players changed in their dressing room which was under the stands.

On a normal sunny morning Pakistan opened the batting with Majid and Sadiq who both seemed to have been in good nick with the bat having scored a few runs in the previous Tests. Unaware of what was in store for the New Zealand bowlers I sat relaxed with others and with Sarfraz Nawaz, who was not in the squad.

Sadiq and Majid played a couple of overs, and then started to find the gaps. Sadiq was quiet and sedate but Majid suddenly came into action with driving, cutting, pulling and hooking Hadlee, Collinge and Cairns to all corners of the ground.

His timely strokes more than often struck the fence or went over it. As if possessed, he set upon on the pace bowlers and spinners alike as if nothing mattered for him.

I had seen him do that in county cricket playing for Glamorgan and for Cambridge University, but this was something different: to bat in a Test on the first day without any caution to maul the bowlers.

In a flash, he had reached his hundred—before lunch. It was the first time in 46 years that someone had done so. The last man was Bradman who went on to score 334 against England.

While Don Bradman was 105* at lunch in that innings, Majid at lunch was 108*. After lunch, he got out on 112. His innings lasted 113 minutes in which he faced 74 deliveries, scoring with Sadiq 147 runs.

In the second innings he made a fifty. I do not remember how many fours and sixes he hit but I do remember that Mushtaq, the captain, made 107 and Miandad 206 with 29 fours and two sixes in 410 minutes. And that Warren Lee the visitors wicket-keeper scored 152, his maiden century and Hadlee made a blistering 86.

Majid. Son of Jahangir Khan, a former Indian Test cricketer, remained in the limelight all his playing years. He captained Cambridge, Glamorgan and Pakistan before hanging his boots.

Not many in Pakistan batted with such aplomb and with authority as he had. He was always a role model for the youngsters. A quiet, sober gentleman in life and in cricket.

I am privileged that I saw him reach that rare landmark. The memory will always remain with me.

By Qamar Ahmed

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