Pakistan's Test series against India, 2003-04 April 17, 2004

A young Pakistani side

This historic series, the first full one between India and Pakistan in 14 years, was expected to be a closely fought one

This historic series, the first full one between India and Pakistan in 14 years, was expected to be a closely fought one. After the first four one-dayers, though, it was anything but. Even though the scoreline indicates a tight series, the margins of victory for India at Multan and Pindi suggest otherwise. But, as Sourav Ganguly pointed out, this is a young Pakistan side, and will take some time to mature and come good. There were a few players who helped their reputation, but many disappointed. Here, we sum up how they performed:

Asim Kamal's dogged determination was a quality the other Pakistani batsmen would have done well to emulate © AFP
Asim Kamal 154 runs at 77.00
A rare beacon of hope in an ocean of despair, Kamal reaffirmed the excellent impressions he had left on his debut against South Africa last year. His two fifties were different in character, but both were born of a simple technique, dogged determination, and composure. His 73 at Lahore was a lower-order gem in execution, and in the context of the game it was a match-winner. At Rawalpindi, he braved a heavily bruised elbow and painkilling injections on the pitch to blast an unbeaten 60 - the bravest Pakistan knock since the days of a one-armed Salim Malik and the gutsy keeper Salim Yousuf. He will become a permanent fixture in this side.

Umar Gul 6 wickets at 16
It says something about Pakistan's bowling that their best bowler only played one Test and that too, due to an injury to Shabbir Ahmed. His first-innings spell at Lahore was glorious as much for its rarity in Pakistan, as for its incisiveness. Like his role model, Glenn McGrath, he varied his length fractionally, and his movement extravagantly. He persisted with metronomic accuracy on an off-stump line, and in sending back the Indian top order - including VVS Laxman with a beauty - he showed his more illustrious, glamorous and experienced teammates how to bowl. He also annoyed the Indians briefly, and flamboyantly, with the bat.

Inzamam-ul-Haq 219 runs at 43.80
This was a difficult series for Inzamam, both as captain and as a batsman. Inzamam's captaincy is never going to be bursting with tactical or strategic masterstrokes or innovation. He commands respect from most of the younger players, but he leads by example. When it works, as it did in Lahore, it produces results. With his own uncharacteristic innings, he goaded and coaxed Imran Farhat into playing a similar knock, and their efforts helped Pakistan win. When it doesn't, as in Multan and Pindi, he can look unimaginative, and others around him crumble as well, although at Multan he did lead a fightback of sorts. His body language was poor at crucial stages throughout the series, although he was let down badly by his bowlers, and at times, by his batsmen. The experience would be invaluable, though, for him and his team.

Danish Kaneria 7 wickets at 35.42
Kaneria cleaned up the tail at Lahore, and surprised with his accuracy, and the threat he posed, at Rawalpindi, although he was unlucky. Against the Indians, that is an achievement, and he more than compensated for Saqlain's poor form.

Yousuf Youhana 280 runs at 56.00
This series has done little to dispel the notion that Youhana is at his elegant best when there isn't anything at stake. Although he was unlucky to be given out in the first innings at Multan, his century in the second was little more than eye-candy for the purist. His 72 at Lahore was unusual for its scratchiness and grit, but also for its importance in Pakistan's win. He produced another pretty innings at Rawalpindi that did little but maintain his average, but he was tormented throughout by Irfan Pathan.

Imran Farhat 191 at 31.83
This was a strange series for Farhat. Given the normally blusterous and swashbuckling nature of his batting, his abstinence in compiling 101 at Lahore was admirable. But in his cameos of 38 and 24, on a flat track at Multan, and, in particular, the manner of his dismissals suggested he still has some way to develop as a batsman. The jury is still prevaricating.

Yasir Hameed 195 runs at 39.00
Before the start of this series the temperament of Yasir Hameed, rather than his talent, was in doubt. This will have done little to erase those doubts. A typically elegant 91 at Multan was followed by three scores in the 20s and one 19. Each time he got out due to his own impetuosity, and most of them were deplorable shots. If he is, as is constantly touted, the long-term No. 3 batsman for Pakistan, then, as Shaharyar Khan suggested, he would do well to learn from his Indian counterpart. Maybe that is what he was trying to do when he dropped Dravid at point at Rawalpindi.

Kamran Akmal 7 catches, 2 stumpings; 45 runs at 15
Akmal impressed enough with his athletic work behind the stumps to suggest that he is Pakistan's wicketkeeper for the future, but he needs to work on his batting before he can make that position his own..

Mohammad Sami 7 wickets at 62.14; 66 runs at 13.2
Sami was one of the biggest disappointments of the series, although in view of his Test record prior to the series, it shouldn't be a surprise. His performance at Multan was forgettable, and although he improved at Lahore and Rawalpindi, where he bowled a lionhearted spell on the third morning, he rarely looked like he was going to pick up wickets. He also dropped a crucial catch off Virender Sehwag at Multan, but his 49 at Rawalpindi suggested that he has the makings of a decent lower-order batsman.

Loads of talent, and a terrible attitude: Shoaib Akhtar watches from the pavilion as his team-mates sweat at out at Rawalpindi © AFP
Shoaib Akhtar 7 wickets at 42.42
Shoaib Akhtar started off in Multan with one of his flattest performances in recent memory. The heat, Sehwag's bat and the pitch didn't help, but apart from a spell on the second morning, he looked disinterested. He perked up briefly at Lahore on a more helpful track in the second innings where he menacingly worked over Irfan Pathan. At Rawalpindi, his homeground, he looked the most threatening. But, as before, his poor fitness caught up with him. He rarely bowled more than five or six overs in any spell, looked tired throughout the series, and found no swing, reverse or conventional. In addition, he decided that bouncing out the Indians was the only strategy. The controversy following his absence on the third day - which meant yet another incomplete series - when Pakistan needed him most, and his subsequent blazing cameo on the last day, suggest that all is not well between him and captain Inzamam. The time has come for Pakistan cricket to make a decision on Shoaib Akhtar, the prima donna, and Shoaib Akhtar, the bowler.

Fazl-e-Akbar 1 wicket at 162
Akbar was willing but limited in his only Test, and the Indians are best at exposing such limitations. He hung around in the first innings with the bat, but is unlikely to play much at the international level.

Abdul Razzaq 69 runs at 34.50; 0 wickets
Razzaq batted well in Multan, and might as well have not bowled. His only contribution to Pakistan was his injury, which paved the way for Asim Kamal to come in and balance the side.

Moin Khan 22 runs at 11.00; 0 catches He was unusually listless in the only Test he played, and his performance behind the stumps, never more than adequate to begin with, was blighted by his dropping Sehwag. His batting was out of sorts, culminating in Tendulkar making him look foolish.

Taufeeq Umar 92 runs at 18.40; 4 catches
Looked compact and solid with most of his efforts but has re-developed his knack of playing across the line and falling over. The Indians honed in on this weakness. He must go back to the drawing board to work on his footwork, otherwise the short-sighted clamour for Imran Nazir may become louder.

Saqlain Mushtaq 1 wicket at 204.00
Saqlain was s shadow of his former self. It could have been different if Mohammad Sami had held on to a sitter at deep midwicket, but Saqlain was visibly lacking in confidence, rhythm and mystery, and his international future, unbelievably, given his record, is bleak.

Shabbir Ahmed 0 wickets
Shabbir has clearly lost the confidence he had so painstakingly built up over the last six months after the doubts about his action. He was wayward in his only appearance in Multan, although he was unlucky to have Sehwag dropped twice in one over on the second morning.

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Osman Samiuddin is a freelance journalist based in Karachi.