Saleem Elahi – First Pakistani to Score Century on ODI debut
Saleem Elahi is born on 21 November 1976 in Sahiwal Punjab. Saleem Elahi completed his graduation with a Bachelor of Arts from Govt. Postgraduate College Sahiwal. He belongs to a middle-class family, but cricket was in their blood. His elder brothers Manzoor Elahi (6 Tests & 54 ODI’s) and Zahoor Elahi (2 Tests & 14 ODI’s) have also represented Pakistan in Test and ODI’s. One of his nephews Baber Manzoor also played first-class cricket in Pakistan with limited success.
In 1995-96 when Sri Lanka toured Pakistan, Rameez Raja picked the young Saleem Elahi for ODI matches without being played a single first-class match. At the age of 19, he started his cricket with a big cracker to score a century on his ODI debut at Gujranwala in 1995. He becomes the first Pakistani batsman to score a century in a debut one-day international match.
Saleem Elahi scored a brilliant 102 not out of 133 balls with the help of 7 fours and 1 six. His magnificent innings help Pakistan to secure a 9 wickets victory and reward the man of the match. In this match, Saqlain Mushtaq and Muhammad Akram have also made their ODI debut. He served as a batsman and was very much comfortable at the opening slot, in his 28 of the 48 matches that he had an average of 42. In the other 20 games, he struggled and batted on the different batting slots.
At Faisalabad, he scored 47 and 30 at Rawalpindi, thus accumulating 179 in the first series. Indeed, this was a dream start for any younger batsman. Saleem Elahi was then a member of the Pakistan team who went to Sharjah to play in the Singer Champions Trophy. In this tournament, he scored 50 runs against Sri Lanka, and 66 runs against West Indies, and leave a good impact on selectors.
Hence, Saleem Elahi was picked for Australia and New Zealand tours for Test matches. Unluckily he could not utilize two-Test opportunities and scored just 43 runs with an average of 10.75. This was a disappointing start to his Test career. After that, he was regularly in and out from the Pakistan team with modest success. In 1996, in an ODI tournament, he scored 54 runs against South Africa at Nairobi. In 1997, he was again selected for Test matches for the Pakistan tour to Sri Lanka. Once again he failed badly and scored 14 runs in 4 innings.
In 2000, Saleem Elahi gets his career-best success against England. In the first Test at Lahore, he scored 44. In the 2nd Test, he scored 41 in the first innings and a career-best 72 in the 2nd innings at Faisalabad. Also, in the 3rd Test, at Karachi, he scored 28 and 37. He played his last Test against South Africa at Cape Town. He just made one half-century in 13 Test matches. Unfortunately, he got out six times without scoring runs including two consecutive ducks.
Hence, he produced some good innings in ODI cricket. One of them was against Australia at Nottingham where he scored 79 off 91 balls with the help of 8 boundaries and Pakistan won the match by 36 runs. In 2002, he was in supreme form in ODI’s. In the first ODI, he scored 53 off 69 balls against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo. Also, in the 2nd ODI at Bulawayo, he scored 107 off 112 balls with 16 delightful boundaries and was declared player of the match.
In the 3rd ODI, he scored another hundred 108 off 119 balls with the help of 10 fours. This was an impressive performance of Saleem Elahi. Eventually helps him to play some good innings on the South Africa tour. In the 2nd ODI against South Africa at Port Elizabeth, he smashed another scintillating a hundred 135 runs off 129 balls with the help of 19 fours. He also contributed a record 2nd wicket partnership of 235 runs with Abdul Razzaq.
He was picked for the World Cup 2003 under Waqar Younis captaincy. In the 4 matches of the world cup, he just managed to collect 102 runs with the best of 63 against Namibia at Kimberley. The 2003 World Cup was a horrible dream for Pakistan not to qualify for 2nd round.
Hence, he is one of them to drop after Pakistan’s meager display in the mega event. Post World cup he just appeared in two tournaments. In which he scored 70 runs off 69 balls at Lahore against New Zealand. In 2004, he went for the New Zealand tour and scored 80 runs off 103 balls with the help of 8 fours and 1 six.
On this tour, he played his last ODI at Napier against the Kiwis, where he just scored 11 runs. After that, he didn’t select either for ODI or Test matches. That was the end of his cricket career. He was a quick runner between the wickets, but a fixing scandal led to the end of his international career soon after he gained a reputation in the side.
Saleem Elahi played cricket for several teams, Habib bank Pakistan Under 19s, Lahore City, UBL, Pakistan, Pakistan A, Lahore Blues, Lahore Whites, LCCA, and Sind Governor’s XI. Saleem Elahi indeed was a stroke player who can cut and pull the ball in his own style. He could get more runs if he plays a little more.
Saleem Elahi played 13 Test matches and 48 ODI from 1995-96 till 2004. He scored 436 runs at an average of 18.95 with the best of 72 including one fifty, 10 catches, 1 stump, 40 fours, and 2 sixes.
In the 48 ODI’s, he scored 1,579 runs at an average of 36.72 with the top score of 135 including 9 fifties, 4 hundred, 10 catches, 162 fours, and 9 sixes.
Saleem Elahi had limited success in first-class cricket. He played 111 first-class matches, in which he scored 5,508 runs @ 32.02 with the best of 229 runs, 8 hundred, 26 fifties, 74 catches, and one stump.
In 141 List-A matches, he scored 6,277 runs at an average of 52.30 with the best of 172, including 18 hundred, 37 fifties, and 39 catches.