||29 December 1976
A trend-setter. Saqlain Mushtaq was perhaps the first offspinner to master the doosra, a delivery that spins away from the batsman even though it is delivered with an offspinner's action. Saqlain has a fast, short-stepping action with a halting delivery, and has a propensity to bowl no-balls, unusually for a bowler with such a short run. He is criticised for attempting too much variation and he often throws in the doosra the first time a batsman faces. Saqlain's international career got off to a splendid start - he was the fastest bowler to 100 one-day wickets, and his phenomenal control meant that he regularly bowled at the death. But his finest moment arguably came in a Test match, at Chennai in 1998-99, when his ten-for allowed Pakistan to sneak nerve-tingling 12-run win against India. However, his stock has fallen a long way since then, with Shoaib Malik, a better batsman than Saqlain, usurping the spinner's spot in the ODI line-up and Danish Kaneria becoming the frontline Test spinner. Saqlain did get an opportunity to have a go at the Indians again in the 2003-04 series, but unflattering figures of 1 for 204 at Multan meant that he was quickly consigned to the scrap heap. He was unable to force his way back ahead of Danish Kaneria and he was blighted by injury after a prolific time with Surrey. However, his career was given a lifeline in 2007 when he joined Mushtaq Ahmed at Sussex and there was even talk of him qualifying for England. That could remain a distant dream, after signing a contract with the unsanctioned Indian Cricket League. Indeed, his ICL contract forced Surrey to severe ties with him after the 2008 season, ending his 11-year relationship with The Oval.