Sadiq Mohammad, born May 3, 1945, is the youngest of the famous Mohammad brothers of Junagadh. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at an opening batsman who carried the burden of the Pakistan line-up on his shoulders during their ascent to the top.
Ameer Bee, the national badminton champion in pre-Independence India, has perhaps played a more significant role than any woman in the history of Test cricket. Four of his sons — Hanif, Wazir, Mushtaq, and Sadiq — went on to play Tests for Pakistan. Another son, Raees, made it to the 12th man’s slot on one occasion. As if that was not enough, Hanif’s son Shoaib had also played Tests for Pakistan.
Sadiq, the youngest of the brothers, was born in 1945 in Junagadh, Gujarat. He grew up in the shadows of his illustrious brothers, and admitted that it had put him under immense pressure: “Everyone expected me to emulate my brothers. It was pressure day in and day out. But it was an inspiration as well, to be famous like them.”
He was a fascinating strokeplayer, and probably looked more elegant because he was a left-hander. In his younger days, though, Sadiq was a right-handed batsman, trying to imitate his elder brothers.
Along with Majid Khan, also of great cricket pedigree, Sadiq formed a dynamic partnership at the top of the Pakistan batting line-up. In fact, Sadiq and Majid had scored 1,391 runs at the top of the order from 26 innings, averaging 60.47: they rank fourth-highest among Pakistan’s opening partnerships in terms of runs, and are easily the best for any other Pakistan opening partnership with over 500 runs. If the opening criterion is removed, Sadiq and Majid rank third-highest among all Pakistan pair with 2,325 runs from 42 innings at 59.61.
His numbers (2,579 runs at 35.81 from 41 Tests with 5 hundreds; 24,160 runs at 37.51 from 387 First-Class matches with 50 hundreds) do not tell the complete story: through his fearless (but not reckless) batting, Sadiq became one of the contributing factors to Pakistan’s resurgence in the 1970s. It should not be forgotten that Sadiq, with leg-breaks, also took 235 First-Class wickets at 31.82 with 8 five-fors.
Due to the fierce competition, it took Sadiq some time to move through the ranks (in fact, he had to play 10 years of First-Class cricket, including a stint with Gloucestershire, before getting a Test cap), and opening batting with his elder brother Hanif on Test debut (Mushtaq played in the Test as well). The 24-year old was not daunted by the pressure in the Karachi Test: he top-scored in the first innings with a flamboyant 69 in the first innings, outscoring Hanif and the rest of the team comfortably (no one else passed 30). He followed it with 37 in the second innings.
Sadiq later confessed that he had a sleepless night before the Test: “I thought about batting with Hanif, one of the greatest, would be very challenging. If I don’t do well, fingers will be pointed, I thought.” After Sadiq’s innings, the President of the Board walked into the dressing-room, asked Hanif to quit, mentioning that “Sadiq is going to be a suitable replacement”.
Playing at Headingley in 1971, Sadiq played one of his finest innings: set to score 231 for a victory against England, Pakistan were reduced to 65 for four before Sadiq and Asif Iqbal forged a partnership of 95. Asif was the only other one of the line-up who went past 20, and though Pakistan were bowled out for 205, Sadiq put up an incredible act of defiance, scoring 91 with 16 fours.
Sadiq scored his first hundred at Melbourne in 1972-73 when Sadiq (137) and Majid (158) both scored hundreds. Though Majid batted at four, the two put up a formidable 195-run partnership. Pakistan lost the Test, despite their heroics.
By now Majid had joined Sadiq at the top, and they went from strength to strength. In the Karachi Test of 1974, Intikhab Alam placed him at forward short-leg to the hard-hitting Vanburn Holder. Holder smashed the ball; it hit Sadiq behind his ear, and he was out of action for some time thereafter.
He batted in the second innings, though, coming out at 90 for 5, and remained stranded on 98 as Pakistan were all out. Despite the severe injury (“It happened nearly 38 years ago but from that day till last night, I still wake up every night at least once with a shiver, and remember that shot by Holder”) Sadiq had managed to save the Test.
In the Hyderabad Test of 1976-77, Sadiq (103 not out) and Mushtaq (101) both scored hundreds — thereby becoming the only the second pair of batsmen to have scored hundreds in the same innings, after Ian and Greg Chappell. This came on the backdrop of a grand season for Gloucestershire, where he scored 108 against Somerset, 163* and 150 against Derbyshire, and 109 against Worcestershire in four consecutive innings. In all he scored 1,759 runs from 21 matches at 47.54 in the 1976 English season with 8 hundreds.
Pakistan toured Australia a few months later, and after Australia amassed 517, Sadiq and Majid were up against some hostile bowling by Lillee. Both batsmen were being beaten frequently, when Sadiq went up to Majid with the words “I’m going to upset him”.
As Lillee ran in to bowl, Sadiq moved away, indicating there was something in his eye. He repeated the action (and tied his shoelaces), much to the dismay of Lillee, and as the great fast bowler charged in, he moved away again, pointing at his shoe. To make things worse, a balloon flew in to the ground from the spectators.
At the other end, Majid was in splits, while Lillee got furious, bowling four terrible bouncers all over the place. Majid scored 76 and Sadiq 105, and they added 113 for the first wicket; after Majid’s departure, Zaheer Abbas (90) added 128 more with Sadiq. Greg Chappell, the Australian captain, later appreciated Sadiq’s tactics.
The Headingley epic
Sadiq occasionally curbed his elegant strokeplay, in order to carve out innings to defend his side. At Headingley in 1978, Sadiq batted brilliantly, playing what was arguably his best innings. It rained so much that Sadiq had to come out to bat as many as eight times during his 373-minute innings.
Mudassar Nazar and Mohsin Khan were the only ones who went past ten, while Sadiq scored a timeless 97 off 282 balls with just eight fours. It was a display of immense concentration and technique, and Pakistan meandered to 201 against an ensemble English attack, thanks to the innings.
The quick end
The 97 remained Sadiq’s last fifty. He soon lost form, scored 99 from 8 innings, and was dropped after the 1980-81 home series against West Indies.
In the season prior to the Headingley 1978, Sadiq had been dropped for the Karachi Test against England due to poor form. It was the first time Pakistan had played Test cricket without a Mohammad brother.
Sadiq trained himself to become an umpire, and even stood in an ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Karachi in the 1999-2000 series. He was scheduled to stand in a Test and an ODI against New Zealand in 2002, but due to an explosion the series had to be called off midway.
Sadiq got into his family business after he quit cricket, but later on focused on coaching. He had a rather singular experience in coaching Malaysia in 1997-98, where most locals were not interested in playing the sport at all. Malaysia eventually played in the 1998 Commonwealth Games. He coached Karachi to the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in 2009-10, and then coached Pakistan to the bronze medal in the Asian Games of 2010.