Worcestershire v Pakistanis, Worcester, 1st day August 13, 2010

Mohammad Yousuf shines on rainy day


Pakistanis 112 for 2 (Yousuf 40*) v Worcestershire

Mohammad Yousuf walked in at New Road 57 minutes into the Pakistanis' innings after the openers, having started on a pretty note, had departed in quick succession. As bad light and spells of rain curtailed the most of the day's play, the severity of the situation probably wasn't lost on Pakistan's most senior batsman.

All summer the Pakistani batsmen have failed to stay long periods at the crease. After the 150-run defeat against England at Trent Bridge, the PCB, without any hint or suggestion, rushed in Yousuf. His experience was crucial for the young middle order, it was felt. Yousuf had led Pakistan as recently as January but retired abruptly and unceremoniously after a PCB inquest nailed him as one of the culprits for the abysmal Australian tour. Fortunately, he arrived in England with a fresh mindset.

He had opted to sit out of the Edgbaston Test, having landed on the eve of the match. On Friday he did not have to wait for long. Yasir Hameed, having been dropped once by Moeen Ali at second slip off Chris Russell, went for a rash stroke the very next delivery, pitched in the channel, and was picked neatly by first slip by Vikram Solanki, who had stepped down as Worcester captain late last evening.

Azhar Ali, the other opener, was run out having found himself at the same end as Hameed less than three overs earlier. Suddenly, Kamran Akmal's decision to bat on an overcast day, with a batting order short of runs, seemed dicey.

But Yousuf calmed the nerves. He slid in like a wrestler into the ring. Then, with a hunched stance, he judiciously picked the right balls to play. The first delivery was left alone. Ditto the next one. Two runs were stolen after a misfield at short over. The next 16 deliveries, spread around an hour-long rain break, did not fetch any runs.

As the others rushed back to the dressing room, Yousuf altered his path to sign some autographs. He wanted to be there in the middle. He remained padded all through the extended interval as tea was taken, and when play resumed an hour before the regulated stoppage time, he had gathered his wits.

The 21-year-old Russell, who is on the Worcester staff and playing his maiden game for the first eleven, was spanked disdainfully as he kept pitching short. Yousuf played a classic square cut past the point boundary. A ball later he steered it past the slips and the vacant third man for another four. The shot of the day arrived a few overs later when Yousuf, in his 30s, charged Russell, and hit a straight drive past the bowler. The local lad was seething with anger mid-pitch.

As he was trying to find his own feet, Yousuf helped Umar Amin settle down quickly, too. At the change of overs he was intensely speaking to the left-hander, animatedly directing the dos and don'ts. Amin was guarded to begin with, yet grew confident with time.

On a day when rain had robbed about 68 overs, Yousuf maintained his calm and stood out like the rainbow that appeared late in the afternoon and brightened the Pakistanis' spirits.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mysecretme on August 15, 2010, 11:37 GMT

    Dr. Adi, Even Rahul Dravid struggled in Australia until he found out that scoring quickly and being positive is imporatant there. Cut MoYo some slack. Afterall he is the best that Pakistanis have at the moment.

  • Dummy4 on August 14, 2010, 15:37 GMT

    Come on! M. Yo. I am expecting a 300 from you at the upcoming test :)

    Even with Pakistan's poor batting in the first 2 tests, hadn't it been for poor fielding from Pakistan, Pakistan could have won both the tests and thats saying something about the AWESOME Pakistan Bowling. With M.Yo. coming in we have a very strong chance of winning the next 2 tests :)

  • Dummy4 on August 14, 2010, 10:54 GMT

    Yep, thats ryt... We need Yusouf... And we dnt need him only coz we need him 2 score runs but so that the youngsters can learn 4rom sum1 senior... Get sum xperience... Jst lyk wat Sachin does with th rst of Indian batsmen, they alwayz bat good wen he is there but wen he is gone, they all tend 2 get out in silly wayz...

  • Naveed Ahmad on August 14, 2010, 10:43 GMT

    Form is temporary and class is permanent. Yousuf has been a player of real class over the years and has proved here once again with his composite start after a long lapse. It is very unlikely that you will select a whole lot of young and inexperienced players and expect them to shine and win games for you. PCB should deal with this matter seriously and should bring in younis into the test format as early as possible, otherwise it would be curtains for pakistan as far as the upcoming tests against England and the test series against S.africa is concerned.

  • Dummy4 on August 14, 2010, 8:59 GMT

    finally something to cheer for the pakistani fans while the team was batting

  • Shivam on August 14, 2010, 8:35 GMT

    now bring back younis too

  • Dummy4 on August 14, 2010, 8:14 GMT

    Long live Mohammad Yousef. he shows that he is really gr8 and always help the juniors when they are together at the crease, the OLD IS GOLD, he shut the mouths of his critics that he is out of touch since moe than six months, and not much expected out of him. he shows his clabar and willingness to play every short according to its standard. I hope he will be BIG PLUS in thenext test match which is not very far. I hope PCB still time to call a few seniors only for the help of JUNIORS and also for the servival of cricket in Pakistanm, which is very much effected due to no home series.

  • Jack on August 14, 2010, 8:14 GMT

    He really is a classy player.

  • Khizr on August 14, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    Nice review Nagraj! You have found the silver-lining of the rain-hit day.

  • mohammad on August 14, 2010, 7:32 GMT

    again one player whose stats over rate his ability.avgs nothing against south africa and aus and if u take into account the fact that he has always struggled in aus and south africa then we r left to think is it always wise to consider stats and records as the best yard stick to measure greatness.once heard a comentator say that he did break viv richard's record but did he face the likes of lillee,thompson,imran,wasim,kapil,botham,qadir,hadlee,willis,pasco and waqar.he did shine and scored but never dominated real fast men and to do so on green tracks is a dream he can see in slumber only.

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