Little-known facts about Bangladesh cricket-1

A common question asked is “Was there any East Pakistani who played in Tests for Pakistan?” and most cricket fans, even from that part of the world, are not sure of the answer.

As Bob Dylan might say: the answer, my friend, is not blowing in the wind, but can be found after some research on the internet.

See this:

and a list of East Pakistani cricketers here:

Note this extract:

“These included six Test cricketersMahmood Hussain, Mohammad Munaf, Mufassir-ul-Haq, Nasim-ul-Ghani, Naushad Ali, and Niaz Ahmed[6] No native East Pakistanis, Bengali or otherwise, represented Pakistan’s national side at Test level. The closest was Raqibul Hasan, who was twelfth man against the touring New Zealanders during the 1969–70 season, and the following season represented a full-strength Pakistan side against a Commonwealth XI.[7] Raqibul went on to serve as Bangladesh’s inaugural captain in the 1979 ICC Trophy, and later played two One Day International (ODI) matches for the team.[8] Two other East Pakistan players went on to play for Bangladesh in ICC Trophy matches—Ashraful Haque and Shafiqul Haque.[9][10]”

However, the information in this extract is not quite correct. The first 5 Pakistani players mentioned were indeed from West Pakistan and appear to have spent some time in East Pakistan for employment or other reasons. Mahmood Hussain and Nasim-ul-Ghani were fairly prominent in their time.

However, the case of Niaz Ahmed is different.


The Wikipedia entry is more detailed than the one on Cricinfo. Niaz Ahmed was born in Benares in the United Provinces (now Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh) and his family moved to East Pakistan after Partition. He appears to have spent his early life there, when he made his two Test appearances in 1967 and 1968-69. He and his family then moved to Pakistan after the liberation of Bangladesh and settled in Karachi. He died there in 2000.

While he appears to have been originally from UP and not a Bengali, he did spend his early life in East Pakistan and started his cricketing career there. Thus, although he did not achieve much in his Test career (2 Tests, 17 runs and 3 wickets) we have to consider him as the only permanent resident of East Pakistan to have played in official Tests for Pakistan.

Then there is Raqibul Hasan:


He was indeed a Bengali, born in Dacca in 1953. He was also 12th man in the P v NZ Test at Dacca in 1968-69, though those outside the playing XI are ignored in the records. However, he did play in what might be called an unofficial Test side, for the BCCP  XI vs International XI in early 1971, just before the Liberation War began:

Scorecard of this match:

The BCCP  XI seems to be practically a full-strength Pakistani team, as most of the players did play in the Test series in England later in 1971-the same season in which India recorded its first Test and series win in England.

Note that the International XI consisted mainly of English players (essentially fringe and former Test players). Probably the best known members would be wicketkeeper JT Murray and the Australian bowler Neil Hawke. It is not clear how Pakistani test player Younis Ahmed and another Pakistani first-class player Wahid Yar Khan were playing in this team.

(Wahid Yar Khan, like Asif Iqbal, had grown up in Hyderabad in India and started his cricket career there before moving to Pakistan in the 1960s).

After this, Raqibul, like most Bengalis in East Pakistan, underwent a lot of hardships when the war resulted in  the deaths of many of his family and friends. He went on to be Bangladesh’s first cricket captain in the initial stages, and even played in two ODIs in the Asia Cup in 1985-86 besides a number of other limited-over matches (such as those in the ICC Trophy in 1979) which did not have ODI status. At that time Bangladesh was classified as an Associate and only their Asia Cup matches had ODI status.

So the question is now answered. Niaz Ahmed was the only permanent resident of East Pakistan who played for Pakistan in Tests.

And Raquibul Hasan was the only Bengali who played for Pakistan in what can be described as an unofficial Test.


A strange little cricket tournament

This was an international 50-over championship, but is not even considered as List A as the teams are not considered to be of a sufficient standard. This is one of the steps which need to be taken by teams aspiring for a higher status in cricket’s pecking order. In this recently conducted cricket tournament (held at Chiang Mai, Thailand), the participants were from different parts of Asia, ranging from Qatar to Bhutan to Thailand.

This was the points table:

Also, the determined cricket fan can skim through the results and scorecards:

Note that China failed to cross three figures in all matches, with scores ranging from 28 to 74. Bhutan was slightly better as they beat China and once managed 104/9.

But one would be foolish to write off Chinese cricket. Hong Kong is doing well enough in the Associates. More importantly, remember how China came from nowhere to become a major force in the Olympics.

More about the lower rungs of cricket-playing countries in the link below. The rankings may not be up to date, but you do have a clear idea of who comes after Afghanistan and Ireland, with ranks going down to 30 (Italy) and 31 (Guernsey).

Tail piece: Anyone in that area who was bored by the cricket could also have played porn ping pong at this place:

Karun Nair’s Test records

You will remember the fuss about Karun Nair when he scored his triple century in his third Test at Chennai. We now look at his oddly skewed Test career after he has completed 6 Tests. This should be apparent from this sequence of scores:

KK Nair innings seq

He has a respectable average of 62.33. But he scored 303 of his 374 runs in one innings (81.0 %) and never made another score above 50. To be precise, his next highest score is only 26.

It is hoped that he will play at least a few more Tests and score more centuries. Until then, he holds a couple of records in all Tests. This does NOT include the highest maiden century, as Gary Sobers (365*) and Bob Simpson (311) are ahead.

Highest score by someone who scored only one century ( 150 and above):

Highest score with one century

KK Nair heads this list, ahead of England’s RE Foster who held the record for about 113 years. His 287 was the world Test record until early 1930 when Andy Sandham made 325 (in his last Test), though Bradman crossed it with 334 later the same year.

Foster, Kuruppu, Fawad Alam, K Ibadulla, C Bannerman and A Jackson  were making their Test debuts. Gillespie made his only century in his last Test while batting as nightwatchman. There are several other current players here led by MT Renshaw with 184.

Another quirky record is the highest Test score made by someone who never made a fifty (i.e. a score between 50 and 99). This gets a bit messy due to Statsguru’s limitations, but we get these figures:

Highest score by those who scored one century and no fifty (110 and above):

1 century no fifty

Highest score by those who scored two centuries and no fifties (all cases):

Two century, no fifty

And finally:

Highest score by those who scored three centuries and no fifties (all cases):

Three century no fifty

No one has scored more than three centuries without a fifty. For a short time KL Rahul shared the record with Bopara. But Rahul scored his first fifty soon after he scored his third century.

As we can see, KK Nair is the only one to score a triple century but no fifty. David Lloyd and Brendon Kuruppu are the only ones to score a double century but no fifty. And Ravi Bopara’s Test career may be over, but he also holds a record which may not be broken for a long time.

KK Nair is also the only current player with one or more centuries and no fifties.






More on acronyms true and false

We begin with one of the frequent renamings of a railway station in India:


You can see that this is the new name of Mhow station. The town has been renamed by the state government. An example of the old sign:


Now, someone will say, is Mhow not a British name which needs to be changed? A surprisingly large number of people believe that the name means “Military Headquarters Of War”, an example of an acronym

However, if we look more closely into the description of this town, we find that this is not so.

From the section on “Etymology”, we see that it was known as Mhau or Mau long before the British built the cantonment there, and that the above explanation of the name is a backronym

We can guess that someone (probably a bored British soldier) invented this backronym as a joke which somehow became popular. After all “Military Headquarters Of War” is a non-standard phrase which really has no meaning-why not just Army Headquarters? And which war?

There are several other (non-Indian) examples of backronyms in the Wikipedia article. There are a couple of other place names in India which are thought to be acronyms but are not. Here is another one


This is another cantonment town, about 25 km south of Jhansi. Unlike Mhow which is a suburb of Indore, this is more of a standalone cantonment town. There is a brief article in Wikipedia:,_Uttar_Pradesh

Here it is mentioned that the name is derived from “British Army Base In Native Asia”. Elsewhere I have seen it with “Northern Asia”. As in the case of Mhow, someone seems to have “created” this explanation which got accepted by others. It is easy enough to see that this is a joke; have you come across the phrase “Native Asia” in any standard reference book or historical document? And Northern Asia is generally understood to mean Siberia, Mongolia and perhaps part of China which were never ruled by the British. And when there were hundreds of British Army bases all over the country, what was special about this place to deserve this name? It was and is of some importance, but is certainly not one of the largest cantonments in the country.

Yet another one pertains to this Air Force base. There is no railway station for hundreds of kilometres, so we make do with a map reference:’00.0%22N+77%C2%B022’48.0%22E/@34.65,77.38,13z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d34.65!4d77.38?hl=en

and this

which mentions that the name stands for Transit Halt Of Indian Soldiers Enroute (to Siachen). This sounds a little more plausible than the examples quoted earlier.

However, a veteran IAF pilot who had served in this area in the 1960s pointed out that IAF transport aircraft were using this airstrip back then, long before anyone had heard of the Siachen Glacier. It was not until 1984 that our army took up positions there. It was known as Thoise even then, presumably named after a village in the vicinity.

One which is more likely to be a genuine acronym is Amla, short for AMmunition LAnd – unless it was named after the Amla fruit (and not the South African cricketer):

Amla station,_Madhya_Pradesh

Another Mhow-like joke which is quite persistent relates to Avadi in Chennai. This extract is from

“The word ‘Avadi’ has been considered as an acronym for “Armour-ed Vehicles and Ammunition Depot of India”, however this fact has no base since, the defense establishments in Avadi were set up only in the 1960s, whereas the town itself had existed long before this happened and with the same name. The name Avadi actually means in Tamil ‘a place filled with lot of cows’ ஆ (Aa) = cow + அடி (Adi) = location.”


Rail Quiz No 2

Here is a fairly simple one for those who are familiar with timetables of the 1970s:

What was common between these four stations as of the mid-70s (but not today):


Answer: These stations had three gauges of lines.

The first to get it right was Abhirup Sarkar.

Notes for those who are interested:

Remember, all this applies to the 1970s and not now.

BG, MG and NG are mentioned in order for each case.

NJP: The main line to New Bongaigaon, branch line from Siliguri, 2’0″ DHR to Darjeeling.

Bangalore City: Main line from Madras, various lines to Mysore, Hubli etc, 2’6″ line  to Bangarapet via Yelahanka, Chikballapur and Kolar. The NG terminus moved to Yelahanka in the 80s. Now that line is also BG. Possibly Yelahanka had all 3 gauges for some time.

Miraj: Main line from Bombay and Poona, main line from Bangalore, branch line to Kurduwadi. (Up to around 1970 it was on the MG line from Poona to Bangalore. BG conversion got up to Miraj and Kolhapur and then stopped for many years).

Ujjain: Major branch line from Bhopal to Nagda and Indore, minor branch line from Indore via Fatehabad Chandrawatiganj, 2’0″ branch to Agar which probably closed in the 80s. This was originally part of the Scindia State Railway which also ran three similar branches out of Gwalior, one of which still runs on NG.


The oldest fast trains in India, and other topics for fans of the Indian Railways

Some generalities to start with. There is no firm answer to the question “Which was India’s first long-distance train?” The present Railway administration seems to have decided that the Punjab Mail from Mumbai CSTM to Ferozepur is the oldest, having started its run from Bombay VT  to Lahore in 1912.

While the dates of opening of different sections of track are well documented by the railways (with a full directory up to 1964), the date of introduction of trains is not so clear unless one looks at the old timetables, which are generally not accessible to the public. Anyway, some of the oldest trains would include:

Bombay-Poona Mail: probably soon after the line was opened in 1863. Was known to be running in 1869. However, the name vanished around 1971 when it became the Sahyadri Express to Kolhapur with the same timings between Bombay and Poona (which were yet to become Mumbai and Pune)

Madras-Bangalore Mail: probably soon after the line between these cities was completed in 1864. At that time it would have run between Royapuram (then the only terminus in Madras) and Bangalore Cantt (likewise for Bangalore). It would have started running from Madras Central after 1873 and from Bangalore City after 1882. It still runs on this route, although the stations are now Chennai Central and KRS Bengaluru.

Then there would be the Kalka Mail, which started as the Delhi-Calcutta Mail in 1866 soon after the last link of the Yamuna bridge was opened. At that time it would have run by the Sahibganj loop which was the only connection between Calcutta and the North then. It would have started running via the “main line” between Asansol and Kiul after 1871 and via the Grand Chord after 1906. And it would have been extended to Kalka after 1891. So this is also one of the oldest fast trains of India, despite the numerous changes of route. It is still running between Howrah and Kalka by the Grand Chord.

The Delhi-Karnal-Ambala-Kalka line was opened in 1891. Possibly the Kalka Mail ran via Delhi-Meerut-Saharanpur-Ambala at one time, as this longer route  had more commercial and military significance.

I am not actually sure when it started running via the Grand Chord, as that covered relatively unpopulated areas compared to the main line via Patna. This can only be answered definitely by seeing timetables from 1906 onwards. In the 1930 timetable of the North Western Railway the abstract timetables show it running via Patna. But in the 1935 Bradshaw it is running via Gomoh on the Grand Chord, where Netaji is supposed to have boarded it in 1941.

In the same way many of the older Mail trains would have started running soon after the routes were completed. Some which must  have started running in the 19th century include the Madras/Mangalore, Madras/Bombay, Bombay/Calcutta via Allahabad. By 1910 the Madras/Howrah and Bombay/Howrah via Nagpur would have started.

Some like the Punjab Mail from Bombay (1912), Frontier Mail (1928), and Deccan Queen (1930) are well documented, although the second one became the Golden Temple Mail in 1996.

The Delhi-Madras route never had a mail train. The last link between Balharshah and Kazipet was completed in the late 1920s in what was then the Nizam’s State Railway. This Grand Trunk Express ran for the first few months from Mangalore to Peshawar, then for a few months from Mettupalaiyam to Lahore and then settled to its long-term route from Madras Central to Delhi.

By the 1950s most trains from the West and South started terminating at New Delhi which had been a tiny station until it was expanded to be a station fit for a capital. Ultimately the GT  was extended to Delhi Sarai Rohilla a few years ago. A number of long distance trains suffered the same fate due to the lack of stabling lines near New Delhi and Delhi Jn.

And Sarai Rohilla is one of the most inaccessible rail terminuses in India’s major cities, though it gets good competition from Kolkata Terminus and (to a lesser extent) from LTT and Bandra Terminus in Mumbai. However, unlike in Mumbai and Kolkata many of these trains also have stops at New Delhi or Delhi Jn, so it does not affect reserved passengers that much. Those going towards Rajasthan and Gujarat may prefer the 2-minute halt at Delhi Cantt to the inaccessible starting point.

Most of the trains mentioned above have separate articles on Wikipedia and other sites like . Some sources are reliable, others are not. Anyone who says that the Punjab Mail of 1912 is the oldest train is clearly wrong.

To come back to the original question, the oldest long-distance train running on (almost) the same route throughout the years is almost certainly the Chennai/Bengaluru Mail, though the management of the CR and the NR would not like to hear that.

A footnote: some old timetables of India (including pre-1947 India) can be seen here:

It is not very systematic as bits and pieces have been added by a large number of people. If you expect to see the full all-India timetables for a particular year you will be disappointed. Some attempt has been made to give the full timetables for a particular company or zone, for instance the NWR from a 1943 Bradshaw:

and the Jodhpur railway, 2 pages from the same Bradshaw:

There are also a few pages from the NWR of 1930 and Assam Bengal Railway of 1929. But basically you have to find your own way in this site.

Another section of the irfca site which may interest you is:

although this was prepared over a decade ago and all the information may not be accurate.

Some railfans have acquired soft and hard copies of old timetables by various means over the years. If you expect them to put up the scans of the full timetables of the past, it will not happen because either the books are bound in such a way that scanning is difficult, or the pages are too yellow and/or fragile, or they are the result of multiple photocopies and are not very legible (the ones mentioned above are examples of this).

Anyway, I have been requested to summarize the timings of the Kalka Mail and Frontier Mail over the years. Probably the best you can expect is a summary of timings at some important stations retyped here.

Follow this blog, there are many other topics such as aviation and cricket covered here.


Making the most of limited chances-Allround performances

We conclude this series with a look at those who put in a good all-round performance in their only opportunity in international cricket. We will look at batting + bowling as well as batting + fielding in the three formats of the game.

We start with Tests:

30-plus runs and 3-plus wickets in their only Test:

All round-30 runs and 3 wkts in only Test

Heading the list is MF Malone, one of the Packermen who was given a chance in the final Test of a series which Australia had already lost. It would clearly be the best all-round performance for someone who played only one Test. Next would come that of JP Faulkner. He is a key member of Australia’s current limited-overs teams and will probably play a few more Tests.

30-plus runs and 3-plus dismissals in their only Test:

Allround-30 runs and 3 dismissals in only Test

Again, some relatively lesser-known players. Ronchi and Ojha can be expected to play again. L Ronchi’s performance, for the moment, is the best for any keeper who played in only one test. NV Ojha would be next.

Passailaigue is the only non-keeper here. He put on 487* for the 6th wicket with George Headley in 1931-32 which is still the world first-class record for this wicket.

Now for ODIs:

10 or more runs and 1 or more wicket in their only ODI:

10 runs and 1 wicket in only ODI

After scraping the bottom of the barrel, we have these 8 ODI players. India’s leading spinner of the 70s is there along with a few other Test players such as AV Mankad, ADG Roberts and JR Hammond. Fittingly Chandrashekhar has the best bowling here, while AV Mankad has the highest score.

10 or more runs and 1 or more dismissal in their only ODI:

10 runs and 1 dismissal in only ODI

ADG Roberts appears in both of these lists. Other famous names are Bill Lawry and the now-familiar Phil Emery.

Finally we move to T20Is:

10 or more runs and 1 or more wicket in their only T20I:

10 runs and 1 wicket in only T20I

Famous names include Tendulkar (in India’s first T20I), Rafique (Bangladesh’s first genuine all-rounder) and Gillespie. The list is headed by Scott Borthwick who also played one Test and two ODIs.

Gillespie scored the most runs (!) while Hitchcock is the only one to take 2 wickets.

10 or more runs and 1 or more dismissal in their only T20I:

10 runs and 1 dismissal in only T20I

12 in this list, and some of them like Tendulkar, Borthwick and Fayyaz appear again.

Dinesh Mongia, like Tendulkar, made his only T20I appearance in India’s first ODI. He has the highest score here,while no one has more than one dismissal. Nixon is the only one to make a stumping.

There are a number of Test players here including Read, Nafees, Tendulkar, Key, Reifer and Kieran Powell.

This concludes our series on those who did well in their only opportunity in international cricket.