Yousuf looks to settle scores
Pakistan's batting problems on this tour have been well-documented. They crumbled under the pressure of a small chase in Sydney last week, but have struggled to compile decent Test match totals during the trip to New Zealand earlier.
The problem, according to Mohammad Yousuf, is more about not going on to get big scores when set, rather than being out of form or poorly-equipped to handle Australian conditions. Yousuf himself is emblematic of the problem; he has had starts in most innings on this tour and looked in good touch, but has only one fifty to show for it. That is one of five fifties Pakistan's batsmen have scored over two Tests, and nobody has yet scored a hundred.
"There's no doubt that my own form is better than any batsmen in the side at the moment," Yousuf said. "Whenever I have come to Australia I have not been in as good form as I am now. When I go out to bat, the ball comes right off the middle. Maybe I am hurrying it a little but the big runs aren't coming. I don't think there is anything else. I was telling Waqar [Younis, the bowling coach] the same thing that I am feeling good but just not getting the big runs."
Through the tour, Yousuf has blamed Pakistan's veer towards Twenty20 cricket as the root cause of failure: they have crossed 350 just twice in their last 16 innings and haven't batted 100 overs even once on this tour. He said Pakistan's batsmen lacked the patience for the longer format.
"Our middle order is scoring fifties but nothing bigger and this will happen," Yousuf said. "These guys are all young and if you look at their averages they are also low. All of us are in good form, but we need to score 350-odd then our bowling is good enough to get them."
The view is not shared by his counterpart Ricky Ponting, who believes Pakistan have just not selected the right players. "It depends who they pick, doesn't it?" Ponting said. "They're picking strokeplayers and dashers. They don't have to pick those guys in their side. I'm sure there are other guys around Pakistan that can play Test cricket. Shoaib Malik is a great example, he's someone who can bat long periods of time but there he is sitting on the sidelines.
"It's not all about every single young player in Pakistan having a Twenty20 mindset or a Twenty20 technique. There's plenty of those players around. The two Akmals are the standout ones that are naturally aggressive strokemakers. They've got those two batting in the middle order. I think the rest of them have got very sound Test match techniques. Look at the two openers - they worked really hard last week in Sydney in really tough conditions. Their No. 3 [Faisal Iqbal] looks to me to be a Test-match only sort of player, he doesn't look like he'd really be a Twenty20 player, Yousuf's the same.
"I think that might be a bit of a, not an excuse, but they've only got a couple of batsmen in their line-up who you'd really say are more suited to the shorter forms of the game. We're probably the same, we've got guys like Haddin and Watson that have started their careers in the shorter forms of the game and turned themselves into Test players."
[Umar] Akmal has looked Pakistan's best batsman after Yousuf in this series, though he has thrown away starts on a couple of occasions. He is the side's top-scorer in the series so far and was so in New Zealand before this.
"He is too young, and has played just five Tests," Yousuf said. "On this tour he has played very well and after this tour he will have more confidence. This is the best team in the world, difficult situations and conditions, everything difficult and when you go from here you perform well against other teams and get confidence. He has changed game a little and is a very clever player. He represents a good future for Pakistan."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo