Iqbal Siddiqui batted at 10 and opened the innings in the only match he ever played for India (Getty Image)
From bottom to top: Five instances of tailenders opening the batting
Iqbal Siddiqui batted at 10 and opened the innings in the only match he ever played for India (Getty Image)

When England walked out to bat in the second innings against Sri Lanka in the final session on Day 2 of the second Test, partnering Rory Burns was not Keaton Jennings. To play out just the one over, England sent in nightwatchman Jack Leach to open the innings, which marked just the fifth instance in the history of Test cricket when a tail-end batsman began proceedings for the side with the bat.

Leech, who was the No. 10 batsman in the first innings, scored 1 before he was out to Dilruwan Perera. Surprisingly, it’s taken 18 years since a similar call was taken. The last time it happened was in December 2001, when Iqbal Siddiqui, a Maharashtra fast bowler, also a gritty batsman, opened the innings for India against England. In the first Test of the series at the PCA Stadium in Mohali, Siddiqui batted at No. 10 in the first innings and scored 24 runs before getting bowled to Matthew Hoggard, came out open the innings with former India wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta after backing from then India captain Sourav Ganguly. Needing just five to win, Siddiqui scored the winnings runs.

Surprisingly, the kind of talent he was considered, Siddiqui never played for India again.

Prior to Siddiqui, it was New Zealand’s Martin Snedden and Danny Morrison, who batted at No. who batted at either ends of the line-up. During India’s tour of New Zealand in 1990, after enforcing a follow-on, the home team bowled the visitors out for 264. Needing two runs to win, Snedden, who had scored 3 in the first innings being dismissed LBW by Kapil Dev, and Morrison who remained unbeaten on 1, opened the second innings and knocked off the remaining runs. Snedden played 25 Tests for his country before fading, while Morrison went on to become one of New Zealand’s best fast bowlers, finishing with 160 wickets from 48 Tests.

Pakistan’s Azeem Hafeez made his debut during the tour of India in 1983/84. And only in his third Test, Hafeez opened the bowling and the batting in Nagpur. In the first innings, Hafeez batted No. 11 to score 4 before opening the innings in the second innings. Of all these nightwatchmen, his 18 was the highest. Hafeez went on to play 18 Tests, in which he scalped 63 wickets including four five-wicket-hauls.