Pakistan in India 2004-05 March 29, 2005

Pakistan's stars in the ascendancy

Pakistan were expected to lose this series, and sure enough, they seemed down and out on numerous occasions. And yet, they managed to stay afloat and finally level the series, an achievement that speaks volumes for the resilience and spirit of this young side



Shahid Afridi: a breakthrough series? © Getty Images

8.5 Shahid Afridi
Afridi's breakthrough series? An irresistible force when the mood takes him, he was irrepressible in the two Tests he played. At Kolkata he provided gusto to a deflated top order and then briefly scared the life out of the Indians on the fourth afternoon. But at Bangalore, Afridi turned the game on its head, with both bat and ball. His batting gave Pakistan time where previously there had been none, and the following day, he provided the key breakthroughs with what he terms legspin - Sachin Tendulkar is a nice bunny. In your face, intimidating, annoying and ebullient, Afridi was at the heart of Pakistan's aggression.

8.5 Younis Khan
Mohali was as bad a Test as anyone can have - dropped catches and joke dismissals galore. But his comeback in Kolkata was a testament to his character. Finally, he began to convert starts into substance and his running was supreme throughout. His energy levels were phenomenal, especially in Bangalore, and on the field, he was the team's engine, geeing people up, consoling, applauding, setting fields, offering and taking advice. Often he was over-exuberant, but mostly he was refreshing. His Bangalore epic will enter folklore, and as a potential future captain, the whole series might come to be viewed as the beginning of the succession.

7.5 Inzamam-ul-Haq
Amidst a galaxy of batting superstars, Inzamam was often the brightest of them all - rarely has he been as unconcerned, imperious and lordly with the bat as this. At Mohali, his anger at the top-order elicited from him an innings for the ages, but he saved his most glorious effort for his most memorable occasion - his 100th Test at Bangalore. His captaincy in Mohali and Kolkata was caricature Inzi - laid back, reactive, onerous and made to look worse by the vivacity of his deputy, Younis Khan. But in the emotional cauldron of Bangalore, he belatedly let his poker face slip, becoming as expressive as he has ever been on the field, and even discovered an audacious lucky streak.

7.5 Kamran Akmal
An abnormally poor final Test, where he didn't collect cleanly and dropped a sitter, shouldn't detract from his status as Pakistan's leading glovesman. Amazingly graceful and efficient otherwise, his century at Mohali was important for two reasons; it saved the test and the series and it removed question marks about his batting back home. Moin and Rashid who?

7.5 Danish Kaneria
In a land where others of his ilk have returned traumatised, Kaneria was a trailblazer. Okay, so he didn't run through the line-up, but then no-one expected him to do that. But he kept coming back for more, even when Sehwag was rattling him. Ineffective at Kolkata, when many thought he had finally been found out, Kaneria bounced back in Bangalore, picking up an admirable five-for in the first innings. For the second series running, he ended up with more wickets than the leading opposition legspinner. For Shane Warne in Australia, read Anil Kumble in India ...

7 Asim Kamal
An unflappable performance from an imperturbable character; Asim rescued Pakistan in the first innings at Mohali and provided reassurance in the second. In Kolkata, he held firm while others flailed and it is precisely because of this that his place must now be cemented in the Test team. A poor match at Bangalore - he threw his wicket away - could have been disastrous, had he not made amends by catching Tendulkar, moments after spilling a similar chance.



Younis Khan: an innings for the ages © Getty Images

6.5 Mohammad Sami
Finally, a series to remember. Sami's career has developed in inverse proportions to the hype surrounding him, but now that skepticism has begun to take root, his performances have grown. He was forgettable at Mohali, but he redeemed himself with his spells on the fourth day at Kolkata and throughout most of the Bangalore match. Tireless, aggressive, menacingly quick and largely effective - could this be the series that sorted Sami?

6.5 Yousuf Youhana
A little overshadowed by the emergence of Younis Khan as a batsman and vice-captain, Youhana nevertheless remained an assuring presence in the order, especially against the spin of Kumble and Harbhajan. His century at Kolkata was signature stuff, easy on the eye and the scoreboard and exasperating for the fielders, but his second-innings discomfort under pressure hinted at his failings. He should have made a substantial contribution on that batsman's paradise at Bangalore.

6 Abdul Razzaq
A fitful series. He threatened on occasions to turn games with bat, ball, and even in the field, but elsewhere, when he was busy playing pointless knocks or being brutalised by Sehwag, his place in the Test side still remained questionable.

6 Yasir Hameed
Why he didn't play ahead of Taufeeq Umar remains anyone's guess, but his second-innings fifty at Bangalore was an elegant riposte.

3 Rana Naveed-ul-Hasan
Willing as ever, but not as threatening as a new-ball bowler should be.

3 Arshad Khan
A strange return. He started well in Bangalore, but thereafter looked ordinary until the final afternoon. By then, he never threatened to run through the innings, but extracted some bounce and got the crucial breakthroughs. By removing Dravid and Pathan he wrote his name into one of Pakistan's greatest stories.

2 Mohammad Khalil
Treated like a sautela (step-relation) in Kolkata, a match in which he shouldn't have been picked. He looked largely innocuous and the few overs he bowled were picked off by the likes of Dravid and Sehwag.

2 Taufeeq Umar
This is what you get after a year on the sidelines and selectorial confusion as to your role as a Testor one-day opener. Taufeeq Umar; a shadow of his former self, just doesn't look an international opener anymore.

Salman Butt
Fading fast after his start in Australia, but he is still young. More worrying will be the manner of his dismissals in Mohali - poor in the first, ghastly in the second.

Osman Samiuddin is a freelance writer based in Karachi.

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