Taslim Arif was born on 1 May 1954. He was a Pakistani cricketer who played in 6 Tests and 2 ODIs in 1980. His marathon seven hours inning of 210* against Australia at Faisalabad stood for more than 20 years as the highest score made by a wicket-keeper in Test cricket.
The record was broken by Sri Lankan left-handed batsman Kumar Sangakkara. Interestingly the earlier world record of the highest score by a wicketkeeper also belonged to a Pakistani, Imtiaz Ahmad 209 not out against New Zealand in 1955-56.
Although he was a specialist wicketkeeper, also he took a wicket while bowling in a test match. He made his debut in an ODI match against West Indies on November 21, 1980. Arif made his First-Class debut at an age of 13 playing for Karachi Blues against Karachi University.
Unfortunately, he scored a duck. By then, he had been playing for Karachi Whites, and at 15 Arif scored 104*, 95, and 100 against Bahawalpur in consecutive innings, and started the next season with 205 for Karachi Blues against Hyderabad.
In September 1978, Taslim Arif was playing for National Bank against Punjab in Lahore. Then before he had made his international debut, Arif became the first Pakistani wicketkeeper to effect ten dismissals in a first-class match. His record was later broken by Wasim Yousoufi in 1997.
Taslim Arif made his Pakistan debut as a batsman – when he brilliantly scored 90 off 268 balls and 46 off 92 balls with 4 fours in each inning against India at Calcutta in 1979-80. But after that Arif had the gloves for the rest of his Test career. However, Wasim Bari was a very superior glove-man. So, selectors mostly preferred him to play for Pakistan. Despite his huge success in first-class cricket, Arif was usually considered an opening batsman who could keep wickets.
Tasleem Arif played only six Tests for Pakistan and ended 501 runs with a batting average of 62.62. He also held 6 catches and 3 stumps. He was a surprising signing for World Series Cricket’s second season – uncapped and hardly a household name. In the mid-90s Taslim Arif started doing Urdu commentary on PTV. I always found his style and use of language very pleasurable.
Taslim Arif continued to work as a batting coach for NBP and remained closely associated with the sport. Later he became a selector for Karachi and ran a sports academy with Tauseef Ahmad. His nephews Mohammad Ali and Wasim Arif have both had distinguished First-Class careers.
Taslim Arif continued to play first-class cricket till 1988-89 with distinction, mostly NBP. He never really failed and kept on producing the odd domestic hundred. Hence, after the arrival of Saleem Yusuf, he was out of contention for a good gesture.
His 21-year-long first-class career eventually came to a halt after one final outing against Muslim Commercial Bank at Gujranwala, where he scored 15. Tasleem Arif died in Karachi from a lung infection on 13 March 2008 at the age of 53. His grave lies at Faisal Cantonment cemetery, in Karachi.