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Zaheer Abbas

Zaheer Abbas: The A-to-Zed of the Pakistan great's records

Hall of Fame 2020

Zaheer Abbas finished an international career spanning 16 years with some extraordinary records across formats for Pakistan.

Zaheer Abbas, or 'Zed', was all class and finesse, featuring without question in any conversation about stylish batsmen. His runs came at a quick tempo and the bespectacled batsman dominated bowlers without ever needing brute force.

A prolific run-scorer in the 1980s for Pakistan, he also captained them in 14 Tests and 13 ODIs, earning himself the nickname 'Asian Bradman' along the way. 

Zaheer Abbas career stats

Format Matches Runs Average 100s 50s
Tests 78 5062 44.79 12 20
ODIs 62 2572 47.62 7 13

Abbas played in the 1975, 1979 and 1983 Men's Cricket World Cups. In 2015, he became the ICC president; he was the last person to hold the post before it was abolished in 2016.

In his illustrious career, Abbas held many records. To celebrate his induction into the ICC Hall of Fame, we take a look at some of his noteworthy career milestones.

First batsman to score hundreds in three successive ODI innings and five successive international innings

In 1982, India toured Pakistan only to be met by Abbas in full flow. Abbas had a stupendous series across formats and became the first to notch up a hat-trick of centuries in ODIs. In a series where the Tests and ODIs were played alternately, Abbas made five successive international hundreds. The double ton that started the run in the first Test was his 100th first-class century. His scores were as follows:

  • 215 (254), first Test, Lahore
  • 118 (86), second ODI, Multan
  • 186 (246), second Test, Karachi
  • 105 (82), third ODI, Lahore
  • 168 (176), third Test, Faisalabad
  • 25* (43), fourth Test, Hyderabad (Sind)
  • 113 (99), fourth ODI, Karachi

Was among the top five run-scorers at the time of retirement

Zaheer Abbas's 2572 ODI runs at an average of 47.62 was the fifth-highest for any batsman at the time of his retirement. He was also joint second on the list of most hundreds in the format at the time, with seven centuries, only behind Viv Richards and Desmond Haynes. 

Zaheer Abbas against his contemporaries in ODIs
Zaheer Abbas against his contemporaries in ODIs

In fact, until 1990, Abbas's average was only behind Richards's and his strike-rate was the fourth-best for batsmen with at least 2000 runs in ODIs.

Most runs by any batsman in a four-match bilateral ODI series 

Abbas particularly tormented India in his prime, recording six centuries in 19 Tests against them, with an average of 87, and 612 runs with three centuries in 13 ODIs. 

The run of consecutive tons in the 1982/83 series helped him to the 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. Back then, it was the second-quickest scoring rate in a bilateral series where a batsman had made 200 or more runs.

In 2015, Hashim Amla scored 413 runs against West Indies in four ODIs of a five-match series, but no other batsman has scored more runs than Abbas in a bilateral series where they played four or fewer matches.

This form meant that on the historical MRF Tyres ICC ODI batting rankings, he attained a rating high of 931, putting him second on the all-time rankings. Only 12 players have ever hit a high of 900 in the charts. 

Zaheer Abbas's highest rating is the second-highest ever on the ODI batting rankings chart
Zaheer Abbas's highest rating is the second-highest ever on the ODI batting rankings chart

First Pakistan batsman to 4000 and 5000 runs in Tests

The 274 Abbas made in just his second Test, against England in Birmingham, was a sign of things to come in his career.

He became the first Pakistan batsman to get to the landmark of 4000 Test runs, and then the first to 5000. At the time of his retirement in 1985, he was the only Pakistan batsman, aside from Javed Miandad, to have over 5000 Test runs. At the time of writing, even 35 years after his retirement, he remains eighth among top run-scorers in Tests for Pakistan.

Most Test runs for Pakistan (as on 20 August)

Player Matches Runs Average 100s
Younis Khan 118 10099 52.05 34
Javed Miandad 124 8832 52.57 23
Inzamam-ul-Haq 119 8829 50.16 25
Mohammad Yousuf 90 7530 52.29 24
Azhar Ali 81 5957 41.95 16
Saleem Malik 103 5768 43.69 15
Misbah-ul-Haq 75 5222 46.62 10
Zaheer Abbas 78 5062 44.79 12
Asad Shafiq 77* 4634 38.61 12
Mudassar Nazar 76 4114 38.09 10

First Asian batsman to score 100 first-class centuries

As many as 25 batsmen have recorded 100 first-class hundreds in cricket. Abbas became the first Asian batsman to the feat, finishing his career with 108 tons and 158 first-class fifties.

He is the only player to have scored a century and a double century in a first-class match four times. He remained unbeaten in all eight innings, making this one of the most outstanding feats in first-class cricket.

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