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Khawaja Shuja-ud-din - Islamia College Stalwart

Khawaja Shuja-ud-din, typifies the first generation of Pakistan cricketers of the carefree amateur days. On this joyful cricket journey, he had the distinction of leading Islamia College, Lahore, Universal CC, Lahore District and PIA, besides taking the field, alongside some of the great names of cricket in the country. 

A wholehearted soul of Punjab with studious inclination, K. Shuja treasured the time spent on a cricket field. Blessed with good fortune in friendship, family life, career and health, he marches on with great spirit and enthusiasm. Closely in touch with a network of friends, now spread all around the globe, he presently divides his time between Lahore and USA. 

Born in Amritsar (Punjab), British India on February 25, 1939, Khawaja Shuja-ud-din’s was one of hundreds of Muslim families who had little choice but to migrate to Lahore – app. 50 kilometre distance -  in the chaotic aftermath of the partition of the sub-continent, leading to the creation of Pakistan in August 1947. 

In his words, ‘I was a class II  student in Islamia School, Amritsar when we left in 1947 for Lahore, where I would continue education in Islamia HS, Khazana Gate. My father, Khawaja Amir-ud-din, was one of the founding members of the Government Muhammadan Anglo Oriental (MAO) College, Amritsar, which shifted to Lahore, after the partition. A group of 20-30 affluent Muslims in Amritsar, had initiated this project so that their own community did not lack in education.'

The prominent Muslim cricketers of the pre-partition days, based in Lahore - saw it as their moral duty to lead from the front and ensure the leisurely British sport was not restricted to the middle classes. The cricketers were highly fortunate to have the wise council of Justice A.R. Cornelius., who represented Lahore Gymkhana for Sunday fixtures at the Lawrence Gardens (now Bagh-i-Jinnah), had the right credential and vision to emerge as one the founding members of the cricket Board in May 1948. The romance of cricket initially blossomed in Karachi and Lahore, was soon to embrace the youth in other cities of Pakistan.

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

He explains, ‘As an opening batsman, I was reasonably strong with drives on either sides. I made many mistakes in my cricket career. I did have enough talent to play international cricket but did not put in much effort, perhaps lacking that burning desire. Once you reach 30 or 40, you should go on to 100. It was a temperament failing.Then I also did'nt want to neglect my education. Maybe I was not focussed enough on my cricket. Exams in winter months, the peak of the cricket season in Pakistan, would keep me away from the game.’

In the years, following the partition, Universal CC, having lost a number of non-Muslim players to India, required a fresh start. Its captain Q.D. Butt along with a few senior colleagues, including A.A. Kureshi, created an environment that openly welcomed students from all the leading educational institutions of Lahore. In no time it acquired some of the best talents and competed against the top clubs of the city, i.e. Crescent CC, Mamdot CC, Punjab CC, Ravi Gymkhana, Delhi Gymkhana, Cantt Gymkhana, Lahore Gymkhana etc. Whilst representing Universal, in the first year of Wazir Ali Summer League (WASL), in either 1956 or 1957, K. Shuja won the best wicket-keeper award. In the following years, he would add few hundreds with the bat, to his name in the league.

He adds, ‘There was a certain prestige associated with Universal CC for Pakistan’s three leading pacemen: Fazal Mahmood, Khan Mohammad and Mahmood Hussain, all had represented the club. The club practised at Burt Institute, in the land owned by Pakistan Railways in Ghari Shahoo, Lahore. I played alongside Aslam Khokhar, Fazal Mahmood, Waqar Hasan, Saeed Ahmed, S.F. Rehman, Shakoor Ahmed. The likes of Zafar Altaf, Pervez Sajjad, Asif Masood, Saeed Bakhsh, Bashir Haider, Khizer Hayat and Sikander Hayat, were my contemporaries at the club. I captained the club in the period 1964-67, give or take a year, before Saeed Bakhsh took over. Q.D. Butt was a very good organiser and played a key role in getting the club back on his feet, after the 1947 sub-continent partition.’

K. Shuja had a seven-year (1956-63) association with Islamia College, Lahore in both of its campuses, Railway Road and Civil Lines. He adds, ‘ I achieved good grades in my matriculation exams and could have chosen any college in Lahore, for further studies. With cricket dominating my mind, I opted to go to Islamia College and desperately wanted to follow in the footsteps of  - Anwar Hussain, Nazar Mohammad, Gul Mohammad, A.H. Kardar, Fazal Mahmood, Maqsood Ahmed, Imtiaz Ahmed, Khan Mohammad and Col. Shuja-ud-din -  all students of the same education institution, who went on to become sporting icons in Pakistan. As a teenager it inspired me a great deal to enrol at the same college as our cricketing heroes.’

Seated 5th from left

Seated 5th from left

In his first year at Islamia College (Railway Road), tall and lean K. Shuja was good enough to be in the 1956-57 squad as a wicket-keeper batsman, though he had to wait the following year for inclusion in the playing eleven. In 1959-60, K.Shuja as a 4th year student represented Islamia College (Civil Lines), now also its vice-captain and secretary, against its arch rivals, Government College in the Inter-Collegiate final at the Punjab Univeristy Ground, Old Campus. In the same winter he was invited for trials at the Lahore Stadium, on the eve of the Australian team’s tour of Pakistan. 

‘I was a good student and also a decent cricketer and hence Government College requested my transfer but that was blocked by S.F. Rehman and Saeed Ahmed, respectively.  They both were keen for me to stay. I did M.A. in Psychology from Punjab University and then taught at Islamia College (Civil Lines), Lahore for 3-4 years.’ In 1963-64, whilst a lecturer, he was member of the Psychological Society at the Islamia College (Civil Lines), Lahore.

K. Shuja was part of the Punjab University team, led by Pervez Ahmad and also featured Shafqat Rana, Pervez Sajjad and Zafar Altaf, that won the 1961-62 Inter-University Championship. He was vice-president of Islamia College (Civil Lines) cricket team that won the 1964-65 Punjab University championship. 

1961-62 Ayub Trophy - seated extreme right

1961-62 Ayub Trophy - seated extreme right

K. Shuja rates his hundred for Islamia College against Mohammad Munaf and Ikram Elahi – two Pakistan pacemen taking the new ball for Jhang CC on a matting in Karachi in 1961, as good as any he scored in his life. Still not quite hundred percent after a bout of typhoid, K. Shuja was coaxed by Dildar Mirza Baig to accompany the team to Karachi. K. Shuja also attended the 1961 Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) summer cricket camp, alongside Haji Saleh, ‘Lala’ Fida and Mohammad Abid, at National Stadium, Karachi. 

As a captain for Lahore in the Inter-district tournament, he took 112 off Gujranwala, led by Raja Saleem Akhtar, father of Wasim and Ramiz Raja. In the latter half of his career, K. Shuja once again reached three figures in a festival match at Chenab Club Ground in Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) between Fazal Mahmood XI and Imtiaz Ahmed XI. It also featured a hundred from Fiza Khan with K. Shuja’s team-mates included Zafar Altaf,  Naved Cheema, Asif Masood and Asghar Qureshi. 

K. Shuja’s first taste of first-class cricket came when a few months’ short of his 20th birthday. He was picked to open for Lahore that was led by Fazal Mahmood and also included Gul Mohammad, S.F. Rehman and Khalid Qureshi, against Railways at the Carson Institute Ground, Lahore in the 1958-59 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy. ‘I was 2nd Year student– such a long time ago when I made my debut at first-class level for Lahore, back in 1958. I think Gul Mohammad, batted at 3. I earned my place in a strong Lahore team on the strength of four consecutive hundreds for Islamia College against various club sides and my total for the entire season had exceeded 1500 runs.’

Introducing his team as captain of Lahore district team

Introducing his team as captain of Lahore district team

In the 1959-60 Inter-University Championship, K. Shuja was picked as opening batsman with Ijaz Anwar (Aijaz Baig) and to keep wickets for Punjab University. In a low scoring match at the Punjab University Ground, against Peshawar University, Khawaja top scored with 31 in his side’s score of 123-5, thus winning by 5 wickets. His glove work behind the stumps which featured 5 catches and a stumping in the match, was a noteworthy contribution for his team. In the final at the same venue, Punjab University was beaten by Karachi University by 8 wickets. His innings of 68 out of the team’s disappointing 182 all out on the first day, was to remain the highest individual score of the match, from either side. He defied Ghaffar Khan, Mahboob Shah and Afaq Hussain before getting run out. 

Punjab University was invited to participate in the inaugural Ayub Trophy in the 1960-61 season. He played a lone hand whilst reaching 60 in his team’s 105 all out against Lahore attack led by Khalid Qureshi and S.F.Rehman, two skilful bowlers. K.Shuja recalls, ‘My innings against Lahore – 60 in a small total – was an aggressive innings. I was particularly severe on S.F. Rehman. Perhaps I lacked motivation and was not determined and hence got carried away with 50’s. Shafqat Rana was my contemporary but he scored big hundreds and that was the key. Cricket did not offer a career in those days and I did not want to take off my eyes from my education. I feel I was as good as Saeed Ahmed but the difference was that he carried on and made big scores and stole headlines. I played 15 first-class matches, spread to 14 seasons. If one was knocked out in the first round, it often meant that was the end of your season.’

In December 1960, K. Shuja’s innings of 61, batting at number 5 in the second innings was the match’s top score in the annual Punjab University against Punjab Governor’s XI fixture at Bagh-i-Jinnah. He was well pleased to have battled so hard in a low-scoring match against an attack that featured Ghafoor Butt, Arif Butt, S.F. Rehman and Khalid Qureshi. 

K. Shuja won selection in the Lahore squad for the 1961-62 Ayub Trophy. 

He represented Pakistan Universities, led by Javed Saeed, in the 1962-63 Quiad-i-Azam Trophy. In their second match at Railways Mughalpura Institute Ground, Lahore, Pakistan Universities were beaten soundly by an innings and 111 runs at the hands of Railways with K. Shuja top-scoring with 39 in his team’s disappointing 98 all out, as the game finished inside two days. 

1964-65 - seated 5th from left

1964-65 - seated 5th from left

K. Shuja’s season of first-class cricket was restricted to just one game whilst appearing for Lahore Whites against Karachi Blues at Lahore Stadium, in the 1963-64 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy. The home team lost the match on first innings basis and Khwaja’s 26 was the second top-score in his side’s poor first innings total of 113 all out. Two and a half years would pass by before K.Shuja was back in first-class arena when selected for Lahore Greens and he featured in 1965-66 Ayub Trophy semi-final victory against Railways Red at Bagh-i-Jinnah, Lahore. 

Now having shifted to Karachi, K. Shuja’s maiden appearance for PIA, led by Hanif Mohammad was in the 1967-68 Ayub Trophy at Pindi Club Ground. PIA lost the game on first innings lead basis. Coming in at number seven, he scored 15 as PIA was dismissed for 121 against the spin twin of Nasim-ul-Ghani and Intikhab Alam. 

Khwaja shares, ‘I left for Karachi when I joined PIA in 1968, on merit and not on sports. In fact Wasim Bari, Pervez Sajjad and myself, all joined in that year. Shafqat Rana, Mohammad Ilyas, Farooq Hameed and Saleem Altaf had joined PIA, prior to our appointments. I spent 3 years in Libya on deputation. I could not carry on with cricket as it did not reward the cricketers. At present in 2019, even a first-class cricketer can earn a decent livelihood by becoming full-time cricketer. In our days it was Railways, PWD or maybe WAPDA that might offer you a clerical job and nothing more.’

In the 1968-69 season, K. Shuja’s only first-class appearance was for a full-strength PIA, led by Hanif Mohammed, eleven against PWD at National Stadium, Karachi – in a one off match between the two departmental teams.

K. Shuja (not Rehman Ali as wrongly credited in scorecards), had been out of competitive cricket for almost 3 ½ years before he was called in to captain PIA ‘B’, for the 1971-72 BCCP Trophy. In its second match, it was beaten by PWD by 48 runs at National Stadium, Karachi. Asked to get 293 runs in the fourth innings, K. Shuja after scoring 66 was the fourth wicket to fall on 182. Afterwards no one except Masood Akhtar (73) could make a substantial contribution to take PIA ‘B’ to a victory. It proved to be K. Shuja’s last first-class outing. 

There was a strong evidence of talent in variety of sporting discipline in the family. K. Shuja’s younger brother Khawaja Salahuddin was national badminton champion for seven years, captaining Pakistan in a number of international events. His elder brother Khawaja Azizuddin’s son and K. Shuja’s nephew, Khawaja Samiuddin, distinguished himself in weightlifting.  He was national heavy weight lifting champion for about 14 years in Pakistan and represented the country in Asian Games, and won gold medal in three consecutive years in SAARC games. 

In terms of career, K. Shuja started as a lecturer at Islamia College, Lahore and also as a visiting lecturer at Engineering University, Lahore, teaching Psychology.  He retired from PIA in 1999, following an association of over three decades with the national airline with whom he was Chief Instructor Marketing and later Principal PIA Training Centre. 

After his last visit to U.K. in 1986, K. Shuja has spent much more time in USA., where all four of his children are now based. One of his three sons, Khawaja Usman Shuja, took to the game and as a fast-medium bowler, represented USA in 11 t20 matches between 2010-12 period, finishing with their leading wicket-taker. 

In 15 first-class matches between 1958-59 to 1971-72, as a right-hand opening batsman, who also kept wickets and was an occasional leg-break bowler, K. Shuja scored 527 runs @ 21.95 with a highest score of 68 among his 4 fifties and claimed 12 catches and 3 stumpings.

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