Little Master Hanif Mohammad loses battle against cancer; passes away at 81

Hanif Mohammad (left) and Sachin Tendulkar; picture credit: The Guardian

Mumbai: Pakistan batting great Hanif Mohammad passed away at the age of 81 in Lahore on Thursday. He was fighting a prolonged battle against lung cancer. Earlier in the day, Mohammad’s heartbeat had stopped for six minutes but the doctors managed to revive him back, but the joy was short-lived as Mohammad eventually died later in the day.

A spokesman for the Aga Khan Hospital, where he was being treated, confirmed the death of former Pakistan captain. “He was in Intensive Care Unit and on a ventilator for respiratory problems and passed away today,” he said. Hanif, had earlier in the day, been declared clinically dead for around six minutes before he was revived back to life.

Son Shoaib Mohammad had first announced from the hospital in the presence of media that his father had left for heavenly abode after losing a protracted battle with various ailments. “His heartbeat had stopped for six minutes but the doctors managed to revive his heartbeat back,” Shoaib said. But after a few hours, Shoaib himself confirmed that his father was no more.

“He fought hard with his ailments and he was very sick for the last few years since he was diagnosed with lung cancer four years back,” Shoaib was quoted as saying by PTI.

“Our family is distraught but we only ask his fans and supporters to pray for him that God grant him a place in heaven. He was in a lot of pain the last few weeks but didn’t give up such was his fighting nature,” Shoaib, himself a former Test batsman, said.

Mohammad was admitted to hospital on July 30 after respiratory problems was then put on a ventilator and shifted to intensive care unit. Hanif was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013 and went to London for surgery but his condition deteriorated over a period of time as cancer spreading his body.

For his short stature, he was known as the ‘little master’ in his playing days and scored 337 against the mighty West Indians after following on in 1957-58. It remains one of the longest innings (970 minutes) in first class cricket and stood for over 40 years.

The opener also scored 499 in a first class match before getting run out, while attempting a run. The record was broken by West Indian great Brian Lara, when he remained unbeaten on 501 for Warwickshire against Durham in a county championship match in 1994.

Mohammad represented Pakistan in 55 Test matches and scored 3915 runs at an average of 43.98, which included 12 hundreds in his illustrious career spanning over 17 years. He was Pakistan’s most prolific player since independence and was a treat to watch. His carrer lasted for more than 17 years and he left a legacy, which will be very hard to fill. He still holds the record highest individual score by a Pakistan batsman in Test Cricket.

Hanif was born in Junagadh in the Indian state of Gujarat. He and his four brothers moved to Pakistan after partition; four of the five brothers played Tests while Raees, the fifth, was a 12th man once. At least one of the Mohammad brothers played in Pakistan’s first 101 Tests. Hanif’s son Shoaib played 45 Tests and grandson Shehzar in 30 first-class matches. In 2010, a Cricinfo jury chose Hanif as the opener alongside Saeed Anwar in the all-time Pakistan Test XI.

ICC’s chief executive David Richardson paid his tribute, pointing to the impact that his triple-century against West Indies had. “It’s sad to hear of Hanif’s death and I’d like to extend my condolences and those of everyone here at the ICC to Hanif’s family, which counts so many cricketers in its number,” Richardson said in a press statement. “Hanif took batting to great heights and many batsmen drew inspiration from him. Hanif was one of the original inductees of ICC’s Hall of Fame.

Pakistan are currently playing England at the Oval and would like win the match to honour Mohammad Hanif and his contribution to Pakistan cricket.



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