While in many cultures left-handers are not treated favorably, in the most popular game in South Asia – cricket – left-handers boast an edge in both batting and bowling stream to outwit their opponents.
Such is the craze for playing with the left hand in the game of uncertainty that mesmerizes many countries, even right-handed crickets like Brian Lara of West Indians, Mark Taylor Justin Langer, and Adam Gilchrist of Australia have batted left-handed.
On eve of International Lefthanders Day which is being observed on Friday, Pakistani cricket fans recall thrilling games of the lefthanded cricketers. Many teams prefer to open bating with lefthanders. Since 2000, out of 18 opening batsmen in the Australian team, 12 have been left-handers.
In Pakistan as well, fast bowlers like Wasim Akran and Saleem Jaffar, slow spin wizards Iqbal Qasim, stylish batsmen, Sadiq Mohamad, Saeed Anwar, Waseem Hasan Raja, and Aamir Sohail, and Nasim-ul-Ghani, all were southpaws – the affectionate term for lefties – and mesmerized cricket fans all over the world through their glorious performances.
According to Qamar Ahmed, a former BBC commentator and sports journalist, the simple and rational aspect of being a left-hander, particularly sportsmen, is that they produce something unusual, which the right handed majority is not used to face.
Like in boxing, he observed, a Southpaw is rather more successful and dangerous because his punch comes from an unusual angle.
" Similarly, in cricket or other sports, a left- hander mostly excels because a bowler is not used to bowling regularly to a left-handed batsman or a right-handed batsman is not used to play left-arm bowlers, which becomes difficult to tackle," Ahmad, himself a left-hander who played first class cricket in Pakistan and league cricket in England, told Anadolu Agency.
The same goes in tennis, table tennis, baseball, and many other sports, he said adding that left-handed sportsmen are a "unique lot."
Endorsing Ahmad's views, Ehsan Qureshi, a Karachi-based sports analyst observed that Pakistan's left-handed cricketers, despite having been outnumbered, stand way ahead of their right-handed colleagues in terms of records and match-winning performances.
"Left-handers are unique in cricket.
In my vivid memory Pakistan left-arm spinner Iqbal Qasim single handedly led Pakistan to victories against strong sides like Australia, India. I can't forget the exceptional performance of Wasim Akram who swang World Cup (1992) in Pakistan's favor with his remarkable swing (bowling)," Qureshi said, while speaking to Anadolu Agency.
Here are a few left-handed Pakistani cricketers whose match-winning performances are still fresh in the minds of cricket lovers.
Akram is undoubtedly considered one the best left-handed pacers the world of cricket has ever seen. He singlehandedly led Pakistan to victory not only through his crippling pace but the power-hitting as well, especially in the final overs, on numerous occasions.
Also known as the " Sultan (king) of reverse swing," because of his grip on the old and rough ball, Akram would force the already panicked batsmen to dance.
An equally advantageous in both Test and One-Day (ODI) formats, he led Pakistan's squad twice during his 19-year career from 1984 to 2003.
A pick of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the then captain of the Pakistan team, the 6.3 feet tall pacer played his first match – a one-day game against New Zealand in 1984 and ever since remained an integral part of the national squad.
His marvelous performance in the final of the 1992 World Cup against England in front of over 80,000 spectators, propelled Pakistan to win its only World Cup title.
An engineer by profession, Anwar was a left-handed opening batsman who added many feathers to his cap during his 14-year career.
Stylish and wristy Anwar set a new trend for otherwise sluggish openers who would try to stay maximum on the crease and save the wickets to give a license of power hitting to the middle order and the tailenders.
An otherwise middle-weight and middle-height batsman, Anwar would appear aggressive from the very first ball, giving the bowler no chance to set his line and length.
He remained the top scorer in cricket for 13 years. His hammering knock of 194 runs off 146 deliveries at a packed-to-capacity Kolkata stadium in 1997, is fondly remembered by cricket fans.
Cricket fans still remember the sunny afternoon of March 19, 1987, when the snaking deliveries of left-arm leg spinner Iqbal Qasim and right-arm off-spinner Tauseef Ahmad destroyed the strong Indian batting line in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, snatching a sure victory from the archrival.
With a flat action, approaching the wicket in angular steps between the umpire and the stumps, Qasim who was called in after a gap of two years, sent Indian batting giants one after another.
He spent most of his career under the shadow of legendary leg-spinner Abdul Qadir but at the end of the day, proved himself better than most of the vaunted spinners of his era in terms of records and statistics.
Ghani, who batted lefthanded belongs to an early breed of cricketers in Pakistan.
He was the youngest cricketer, only 16 when he made his debut against West Indies in 1958 as a left-arm orthodox spinner.
In 1962, Ghani made the headlines as he became the first night watchman to hit a century. He scored 101 against a top English pace battery in Lords.
Ghani is, perhaps, the only cricketer in the world who opened the batting for Pakistan and also came in at number 11.
Sadiq Mohammad is one of the best openers Pakistan has ever produced. He was the youngest of the five famous Mohammad brothers, who represented Pakistan international and first-class cricket at different times.
Often love to take on the pacers, Sadiq played against New Zealand in October 1969 in Karachi as a debutant. His last appearance as a test cricket was against West Indies in January 1981 in Pakistan's northeastern city of Multan.
He was one of the cricketers who gathered a huge fan club at a time when cricket was not as glamorous and professional as it is nowadays.
Waseem Hasan Raja
At the first sight, Raja appeared to be a film hero. Sporting a short beard and fluttering hair, he had had many feathers in his cap, apart from being a cricketer. A school teacher, match referee, a coach, and a philanthropist.
A glorious left-handed middle-order batsman and a right-arm leg spinner, Raja made his debut against England in 1973. His fearless batting against a fearsome West Indian attack in 1976 tour of the Caribbean earned him a reputation as a dependable batsman.
He died while playing a charity match in Marlow, England.
Raja was fielding in the slip when he suffered a heart attack.
"He first knelt and then fell to the ground. An ambulance was called to transport him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead," Qamar Ahmad said.
Raja was the elder brother of former Pakistan captain, and a famous cricket commentator Ramiz Raja.