In March 2019, Abid Ali had created history when he scored a century on ODI debut against Australia. Nine months later, in what was Pakistan's first Test at home since 2009, Abid Ali scripted history and slammed a century on Test debut on the final day of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Rawalpindi. With this knock, Abid Ali became the only male cricketer in history to have hit an ODI and Test century on debut. In women's cricket, Enid Bakewell of England scored 113 on Test debut vs Australia in 1968 and 101* on ODI debut vs an International Women's XI in 1973.
The Rawalpindi Test has been ruined by rain with only 23.4 overs possible on three days starting from day 2. However, on day 5, bright sunshine greeted the players and they resumed play. Dhananjaya de Silva slammd his sixth Test century as Sri Lanka declared on 308/6. Pakistan lost Shan Masood cheaply but Abid Ali found good support in Azhar Ali, the skipper. Both Abid and Azhar steadied the innings with Abid hitting two boundaries off Lahiru Kumara. Abid continued to target Kumara with two more boundaries as the partnership went past fifty. Abid reached his fifty but Azhar was sent packing for 35.
Babar Azam, who scored a ton against Australia was in fine form and he aggressively went after the Sri Lanka bowlers. With Babar scoring freely, Abid decided to play second fiddle. Abid neared his century with three boundaries off Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva while Babar grew in confidence. After the tea break, Babar reached his fifty but Abid was peppered with short balls as he spent some time in the nervous 90s. Babar motored along into the 70s and Abid neared his century with a pull off Vishwa Fernando which raced away to the boundary.
The next ball, Abid tucked a couple to the on side and he reached a century on debut. The celebrations spoke volumes about his achievement and he became the first Pakistan player to hit a century on return. It was a fitting way for Abid to make a mark in Test cricket after a tough year which saw the death of his young daughter due to cancer just days before the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Along with Abid, Babar also slammed his century with a boundary as the Test match ended in a draw in Rawalpindi.
Abid Ali entered an elite list of players when he became the 15th player overall but the third Pakistan player to score a century on ODI debut during the Dubai ODI against Australia in March 2019. Abid joined Saleem Elahi and Imam-ul-Haq as the other Pakistan players to have achieved this feat. Abid Ali became the third player to hit a century on debut against Australia. Dennis Amiss of England scored 103 in the Manchester ODI of 1972 while West Indies’ Desmond Haynes smashed 148 in the Antigua ODI of 1978.
Haynes’ score of 148 remains the highest individual score on debut in ODIs. Saleem Elahi became the first Pakistan player to achieve the feat when he smashed a century in his debut ODI against Sri Lanka in Gujranwala in 1995. Sri Lanka had made 233/5 with Arjuna Ranatunga scoring a century and Asanka Gurusinha scoring 57. However, Elahi, along with a 77 from Aamer Sohail helped Pakistan secure a nine-wicket win.
In 2017, 22 years after Elahi’s feat, Imam-ul-Haq entered the history books by slamming a debut ton against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi. Hasan Ali’s 5/34 restricted Sri Lanka to 208 all out and Imam-ul-Haq’s century gave Pakistan a seven-wicket win.
The Rawalpindi Test was in danger of being deemed a damp squib but the exploits of Abid Ali and Babar Azam have ensured Pakistan and Rawalpindi have something to smile for as Test cricket returns to the country in the wake of the improved security situation.