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Series Editorial

Watch: Arm broken, Saleem Malik bats one-handed, left-handed and right-handed in 1986 Faisalabad Test

Saleem Malik bats left and right handed
by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

Watch: At Faisalabad in 1986/87, Saleem Malik walked out to bat with a broken arm. He batted first left-handed, then right-handed – perhaps the only person to switch hands during a Test innings before Joe Root.

With the exception of the New Zealand tour of 1979/80, the indomitable West Indians did not lose a single series between 1975/76 and 1994/95. They dominated cricket for close to two decades – until Pakistan, who, from time to time, gave them a run for money.

West Indies’ 1986/87 tour of Pakistan began in expected manner. There was no Michael Holding or Joel Garner, but Malcolm Marshall (3-48), Patrick Patterson (2-38), and Tony Gray (4-39) reduced Pakistan to 37-5, then bowled them out for 159. The lone resistance came from captain Imran Khan, who made an unbeaten 61 from No.7.

Malik helped Imran add 53 for the eighth wicket. Then a snorter broke his arm, just below his wrist. He had made 21, and was as good as ruled out of the match.

Imran then asked his 20-year-old left-arm fast bowler to bowl the first over, ahead of himself. It was a major promotion for young Wasim Akram, who would soon assume that role until his retirement, especially once Imran stepped down. Here, he took 6-91 to help bowl out the West Indians for 248 after they were 104-1. A lead of 89 was still substantial.

Pakistan, a batter short, soon became 19-2. At 224-7, the innings was virtually over, but Wasim now demonstrated that his skills were not restricted to fast bowling. He added 34 with Imran and 38 with Tauseef Ahmed, the Lionel Richie doppelganger off-spinner. Despite that, the lead had barely crossed 200.

Then Malik emerged, amidst a loud cheer from the crowd. He reached the middle, and – to the surprise of most – took guard left-handed. One can see the logic. He could use only his right hand, so he would make that his ‘top hand’.

The first ball, from Courtney Walsh, was outside off. It was fortunate for Malik, who missed it completely. It was evident that batting left-handed was not his forte. Desperate to get strike, Wasim sprinted halfway down the pitch, realised Malik was not interested, and barely made it back.

Following a mid-pitch conference, Malik switched to batting with the right hand (now his bottom hand). Walsh’s first ball knocked the bat out of his hand, but Malik clung on. Wasim, meanwhile, raced to his maiden Test fifty, and was eventually stumped for an 82-ball 66. Malik played 14 balls, scored three, and remained unbeaten.

West Indies now needed 240 in four sessions. By stumps, they were 43-9. They were bowled out for 53 next morning, in 25.3 overs. It would remain their lowest score until Australia bowled them out for 51 in Port-of-Spain. Bowling unchanged for 13 overs, Imran took 4-30. The wrecker-in-chief was Abdul Qadir, with 6-16.

Watch Saleem Malik bat left- and right-handed in the same innings:

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