Robin Jackman must’ve been very pleased to get rid of him at last. But the damage had already been done.
Jackman’s victim was walking back to the pavilion, but with head held high and bat up in the air, acknowledging the applause from the crowd and his teammates — the first Pakistani to score 200 runs in a Test at cricket’s most iconic ground, the Lord’s.
For Mohsin Hasan Khan, that memory remains fresh. He cannot believe it’s been 34 years since he walked to the pitch and created history. It was a show of courage, bravery and resilience from a man born in Karachi who believed more in his abilities than the odds.
Only an ardent batsmen like Mohsin could craft an innings that would go on to become a cherished memory for generations of Pakistani cricketers.
In the summer of 1982, Pakistan were touring England for a three-match Test series. One-down in the series already, having lost a relatively low-scoring Edgbaston tie by 113 runs, Lord’s wanted something special from a side led by the charismatic Imran Khan, who had the likes of street-smart Javed Miandad, the tormentor Zaheer Abbas and the magician Abdul Qadir in his arsenal.
But it was the young Mohsin who stole the show. His ability to judge the ball movement on seaming conditions helped him see off the new ball and the danger of unexpected seam off the turf’s rough patches. What happened next made his contribution immortal.
“I was praying that I score at least fifty runs and give a good start to my team,” recalls the 61-year-old with a hearty laugh during an interview with Dawn.
“Imran was a very positive captain. After losing the first Test at Edgbaston, he told the team that we have to go and get a win. It was decided that if won the toss we will bat first, set up a target and go for the kill.”
Does he wonder about how unexpected it was for him to end up becoming the sole architect of a victory that continues to be talked about even to this day?
“It was a gift given to me by the Almighty,” says Mohsin. “I was batting on 199 when it started raining and the match was delayed for roughly three hours.
“I was quite relaxed, maybe because I hadn’t realised the importance of scoring a double ton by then. The media spoke to me during the break and told me that with one run, I would become only the seventh person in the world to get 200 at Lord’s.
“It was then that it struck me that I was on the verge on achieving something outstanding.”
Sitting in the dressing room and thinking about scoring just one run and of the consequences in case he could not do it was something that Mohsin will always remember.
Imran is widely spoken about as a captain who understood his men better than anybody else, even more than themselves. There is a reason why Wasim Akram still calls him “skipper”, and Shoaib Akhtar once regretted not being able to play under his leadership.
“Imran came to me and asked: ‘How do you feel?’ I said I was comfortable but was a bit nervous,” Mohsin fondly remembers. “Imran told me: ‘I’m sure you’ll do it’.”
And Mohsin did it.
“By the grace of the Almighty, I reached the milestone on the second or the third ball. It was a very pleasing shock for me. But what gave that innings such significance was that it helped us win.”
Mohsin, who represented Pakistan in 48 Tests, is proud of how the team came out all guns blazing in the second innings and played like it was a One-day International.
“We needed 76 runs to win in a very short time so Javed opened with me and the rest is history,” he says. “I got the Man-of-the-Match award. I am thankful to God for giving me this honour.”
Pakistan scored at 5.84 runs an over and reached the target in 13.1 overs, finishing very close to the end of the day’s play.
The British press termed his innings as one of the best played at Lord’s.
“Some of the journalists came over after that innings and said it was the best 200 that they had witnessed and gave me the title, ‘Lord of Lord’s’,” Mohsin says. “I asked Trevor Jenkins, a very senior English journalist, why he had given me this title. He said of all the 200s scored, mine had been outstanding.”
The first innings at Lord’s was Mohsin’s 19th Test innings. In the previous 18, he had gone past 50 just twice.
Against England in Edgbaston in the first Test, Mohsin was only able to score 26 and 35. He still remembers how Jim Charles Laker, an English cricketer from the 1950s who was commentating during the tour, motivated him to concentrate on building his innings.
“After we won the toss and elected to bat, Imran came to the dressing room and told me Laker wanted to have a word with me,” Mohsin says.
Laker, who died four years after Mohsin’s heroics at Lord’s, had been following his batting. He was there when Pakistan toured England in 1978 — a series that saw Mohsin unable to convert good starts.
“Laker told me that I was a better player than those 30s and 40s,” Mohsin recalls. “It was such a morale booster.
“After my innings, I went up to him and he smiled, saying: ‘Didn’t I tell you that you were better than 30s and 40s?’. I can never forget that.”
On Thursday, Pakistan’s “war time” captain Misbah-ul-Haq led yet another bunch of mercurial cricketers at the same hallowed ground against huge odds. Will there be another Lord of Lord’s?
Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2016