Born on November 1,1968, Mohammad Akram Hussain Khan is a former Bangladesh skipper in the second half of the 1990s who was at the helm when the national side transitioned from being an associate to a full member of the ICC, registered their first ever win in One-Day Internationals (ODI) and qualified for the World Cup 1999. Prakash Govindasreenivasan has more.
Akram Khan was not your quintessential athletic-looking sportsman. He perhaps always weighed a few extra pounds than he would have liked. Yet, he made an exceptional impact to the game as a brave leader and an aggressive batsman.
Akram was not too fond of fast bowlers but took great pleasure in punishing the spinners. Being used to playing on slow wickets at home and facing more spin than pace, his abilities with the bat against spinners came naturally. His technique was not phenomenal, but he did enough to earn the tag of an effective middle-order batsman.
Akram began playing cricket for Bangladesh Railways in his home town Chittagong. He performed well and started to move up in the pecking order and soon sought a move to one of the biggest sporting giants in the country, Abahani.
In 1988, Akram made his international debut against Pakistan in Chittagong. He slowly began to build his career at the highest stage as Bangladesh continued to make attempts to make their World Cup debut. He was one of the most important players who kept the World Cup dream alive for Bangladesh.
ICC Trophy 1997
Bangladesh’s moment of glory came in 1997 when they, ably led by Akram, earned a spot in the World Cup 1999 through wonderful performances in the ICC Trophy that year. It wasn’t an easy task and Akram knew exactly what was at stake. Facing Netherlands in group-stage game, Bangladesh were chasing a win to enter the semi-final and give themselves a shot to go all the way. Akram started on a positive note as he won the toss and put Netherlands in to bat in Kuala Lampur. His bowlers responded well to keep the Dutch side to just 171. Akram himself did well as a medium pacer to clean up Robert Van Oosterom who was starting to look good for his 59-ball knock of 40.
In reply, Bangladesh batsmen squandered a chance to start well. Before they could realise, they were down to 15 for four. Akram and Minhajul Abedin kept their side alive in the revised chase of 141 from 33 overs. The task had only turned tougher but Akram was up to it. This was probably Bangladesh’s best shot at a World Cup entry and Akram was in no mood to give up on it after years of hard work. His labored on his way to a 92-ball unbeaten knock of 68 to take his side home with just eight deliveries remaining.
This win in a do-or-die situation put Bangladesh in the semi-final against Scotland.
An upbeat Bangladesh side crushed Scotland in the semi-final to earn a 72-run victory. This win put them in the final of the tournament and most importantly, gave them an entry in to the World Cup that was to be played two years later.
First ODI win
Fresh from earning their spot in the World Cup 1999, Bangladesh were a rejuvenated side. They brought an end to their losing streak in One-Day Internationals (ODI) when they took on Kenya at the Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad in 1998. An all-round performance from Mohammad Rafique (three for 56 and 87-ball 77) along with contributions from Athar Ali Khan (47) and Akram (39) helped Bangladesh chase down Kenya’s total of 236.
World Cup 1999
Akram marshaled his troops to England in a hope to cause an upset or two in the World Cup 1999 and succeeded to an extent.
Bangladesh finished second last in their group, with two wins from five matches. Yet, they returned home with their heads held high as they had registered an improbable victory against their group toppers Pakistan.
Bangladesh bowlers overrode Saqlain Mushtaq’s fifer as they defended their total of 223. Akram, who top-scored with 42 from 66 balls, did well on the field to keep Pakistan away from their total. Akram’s innings included six fours as he seemed determined to get the better of his Asian compatriots. Akram used six bowlers and mixed them up well to keep the Pakistan batsmen on their toes. Having scored in excess of 200, Bangladesh saw a real chance of causing an upset and leapt onto the opportunity. Every Bangladesh bowler went for around four runs an over as Pakistan batsmen were strangled at the wicket. In the end, it was a 62-run victory for the minnows — a comprehensive one for their standards.
Full Member of ICC and inaugural Test
Bangladesh was awarded for their consistent performances at the highest level when they transitioned from being an Associate Nation to a Full Member of the International Cricket Council (ICC). In 2000, Bangladesh players saw another long-time dream of theirs coming to life as they stepped out to represent their country in white flannels for the first time. Akram was yet again at the helm of this historic moment in the history of Bangladesh cricket.
Bangladesh made their Test debut against India in Dhaka and continued their dream phase by amassing 400 runs in the first innings. Akram managed 35 from 65 balls and scored the first six of the innings and of Bangladesh’s Test history. However, after India took a slender first-innings lead of 29 runs, Bangladesh batting order imploded in the second essay. They folded up for 91 runs with Sunil Joshi and Javagal Srinath running through their line-up.
In a career-spanning 15 years, Akram played 44 ODIs for Bangladesh, scoring 976 runs at an average of 23.23. He also featured in eight Tests and scored 259 runs.
His most notable achievements were to guide Bangladesh to the World Cup 1999 and lead the team to their first ever ODI victory.
After retiring from the game in 2007, Akram became a national selector. Four years later he was named the chief selector in 2011. Akram had emerged from a family that valued sports in the highest regard. The tradition continued as two of his nephews — Nafees Iqbal and Tamim Iqbal — went on to represent Bangladesh at the highest level, with the latter being a key member of the current Bangladesh side.