KARACHI: Former first-class cricketer and ex-international umpire and Afzaal Ahmed Rizvi died after a protracted illness early on Thursday.

Afzaal, 66, passed away at 7:00am at a local hospital, according to former Pakistan Test all-rounder and National Bank colleague Anwer Khan, who is the senior-most match referee on the PCB panel.

He was laid to rest at Essa Nagri graveyard after his Namaz-i-Janaza was offered after Asr prayers.

A tall right-handed batsman, Karachi-born Afzaal appeared in 91 first-class matches between 1965-66 and 1984-85 during which he scored 4010 runs at an average of 30.61 with an unbeaten 155 the highest of his six centuries. As a medium-paced bowler, he claimed 33 wickets (ave 25.90) with 5-21 as best figures in an innings.

He played in six domestic one-day matches, scoring 259 runs (ave 42.83) with a best of 129.

After his playing career came to an end, Afzaal became a highly respected umpire at the top domestic level. In his only international game as an on-field umpire, Afzaal officiated alongside Saleem Badar in the triangular series One-day International between Pakistan and South Africa at Faisalabad on Oct 28, 1994.

Afzaal also acted as the TV umpire during the third and final Test of Pakistan’s home series against Sri Lanka at the National Stadium in Karachi in March 2000 before performing a similar role in October that year when Pakistan played England in a One-day International at Lahore.

Afzaal was further entrusted with the fourth umpire duties in Tests against West Indies at Lahore in November 2006 and South Africa at Karachi in October 2007 as well as two one-dayers — against India at Karachi in February 2006 and the Asia Cup match between Pakistan and Hong Kong at Karachi in June 2008.

Altogether, Afzaal stood in 135 first-class matches and 108 List-A fixtures between 1987 and 2008.

He also played for Colne as a professional the Lancashire League during the 1976 season.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2015

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