LAHORE-Ailing former Pakistan wicketkeeper batsman and Test captain Imtiaz Ahmad has been hospitalised and was shifted to ICU on Monday afternoon.

Imtiaz’s son Zaigham informed The Nation about his illness late in the evening. Zaigham looked worried about his father’s condition but he hoped Inshallah, his father would be 89 on January 5, making him the oldest living Pakistan Test cricketer.

It may be added that Christopher Martin-Jenkins had called him the rock on which Pakistan cricket was built. His daring batting against the fastest bowlers won the hearts of millions. He had compiled many firsts including: 1st ton against the West Indies visiting side at Lawrence Gardens in November 1948; 1st triple ton by an Asian against a visiting side, 300 vs Commonwealth XI at Bombay in October 1951 and 1st wicketkeeper to hit a Test double century (vs New Zealand at Lahore, October 1955).

At age 17, he hit 138 against a powerful Australia XI (featuring Lindsay Hassett & Keith Miller) at Lahore in 1945. His 1951 Bombay triple century before Pakistan attained Test status in 1952 gave Pakistan cricket the self-belief that it could compete at the highest level.

Imtiaz is the modest unassuming man -- a genuine national hero. What Pakistan owes to him is beyond estimation. “I was honoured to write the foreword to his book which hopefully shall see the light of day. Few had captured the imagination of so many as Imtiaz had done,” said Martin-Jenkins about Imtiaz Ahmad.