Moin Khan and Azam Khan: Father and son, bound together by a shot of doom

Pakistan have had a grandfather, son, and grandson play for their country when Jahangir Khan was followed by Majid Khan and Bazid Khan. But the current father-son Jodi of Moin Khan and Azam Khan have caught the social media by storm. Perhaps, because it pits both in opposition camps at the PSL, a bemused Moin gently applauding his son Azam’s outrageous shots.

One particular, shot, though stands out. The burly Azam would later say “mere fitness to mashallah hamesha se tagdi rahi hai ( I have been always fit); if the selectors don’t want to pick me, it’s up to them, I will just keep performing, I don’t want to be dragged into negativity.” And he went on to say that his father taught him about the tactical side of the game rather than technical. And yet there is this one shot, that has perhaps bled through the genes.

He sunk down on his knee to swat-sweep a ball on to the roof of the midwicket stands. Later, he would dedicate the innings to his mother “Ammi ko, jo match dekhne nahi aayi the (Who didn’t come to see the game).” Cuteness aside, that shot stirred memories of his father.

Moin Khan has played almost similar shot to swat-sweep no less a bowler than Allan Donald for a six in the 1992 world cup. In a game against New Zealand, once, he even slipped and lay sprawling on the ground, but still connected with his unique shot to send Craig McMillan delivery over the ropes.

In the years gone by, Herschelle Gibbs, who improvised that swat-flick from his team-mate the legendary Caribbean opener Desmond Haynes in South African domestic cricket, and Moin Khan would play slightly differing versions of that shot which these days is recognised as a Virat Kohli signature shot.

Gibbs’ version was one of the great ODI shots of last decade. But highly risky when compared to Kohli. Gibbs’s was a dare. There would be a moment in his swat-flick, just before contact, where it would appear that the ball might miss the bat and crash on to the pad. Suddenly, however, the bat would swipe across just in time to crash-land the ball over square-leg.

Somewhat similar version was played in the 90’s by Moin Khan. His too was a risky version in that the lbw possibility always loomed but he wasn’t a top order batsman and was looking to score some quick runs in the end. Gibbs’ shot was a thrill, Moin’s was ballsier.

Moin would play that shot irrespective of the stature of the bowler. Allan Donald was dismissively swatted away on a bent knee over square-leg. Against McMillan, his front heel began to slip as he reached out for a length delivery well outside off and his back heel to began to give way. But he kept going for it. And by the time he finished the shot, he was lying on his stomach, feet dangling in the air, as if he were lying in the fields of his hometown Rawalpindi, plucking grass and idly chatting away with friends.

Cut to Friday night, there he was sitting in the dugout watching his son play for the opposition, and swatting away ever so cool-ly. Father and son – bound together by a jaw-dropping shot.

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