Pakistan legend Hanif Mohammad is widely regarded as the first cricketing superstar to emerge from the country. The Gujarat-born right-hand batter played 55 Tests for Pakistan, amassing 3,915 runs at an average of 43.98. He also has 12 Test centuries and 15 half-centuries to his credit, with a top score of 337, which came against the West Indies in 1958. It is still the longest Test innings in the history of the sport (970 minutes).
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But just a year after his mammoth knock, there was an occasion when luck didn’t favour the ‘Little Master’. On this day 63 years ago, Hanif went past the great Don Bradman’s 452, then the highest first-class score, by slamming 499 in the semi-final of the 1958-59 Quaid-e-Azam trophy. His record stood for 35 years until West Indies great Brian Lara bettered it by scoring an unbeaten 501 for Warwickshire against Durham in June 1994.
While Hanif’s 499 was in itself a world record, his knock gained immense popularity as he couldn’t get to the magical number of 500 due to a calculation error.
On January 11, 1959, in the semi-final of the Quaid-e-Azam trophy, Bahawalpur were dismissed for a paltry 185 batting first against Karachi. What followed was an excruciatingly long innings of supreme grit and determination from Hanif, who single-handedly ground the opposition to dust.
At stumps on the first day, he was unbeaten at 25. He added another 230 runs on the second day, remaining unbeaten at 255 by the end of the second. Hanif marched on until a blunder on the third day of the match.
With just a couple of balls remaining in the day, Hanif had reached 498. But, the scoreboard, which had not been updated yet, showed him at 496. As he tried to get to 500 before stumps, luck eluded him and he was disastrously run out for 499. The right-hand batter’s mammoth innings, which included 64 boundaries, came to an abrupt end.
Karachi declared at 772/7 immediately after Hanif’s dismissal. Their bowlers then did the rest, dismissing Bahawalpur for 108 runs to win by an innings and 479 and clinch a spot in the final.
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