Pakistan XI
ESPNcricinfo picks the best Test teams of all time

Openers

Stodgers, flayers, stylists

Opening has been one of Pakistan's most thorny problems - which is not to say that there haven't been fine, even great, openers in the team's history

Osman Samiuddin

April 12, 2010

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Hanif Mohammad in the Pakistan nets, Lord's, April 26, 1962
Hanif Mohammad: Pakistan's most technically sound batsman © PA Photos
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In no country is the career of a player as precarious as it is in Pakistan. Just under a fifth of Pakistan's 198 Test players, for example, are one-Test wonders, comfortably the highest among the established Test nations*. Does that make the job of our suitably diverse jury - writers, historians, journalists, commentators, selectors, administrators and ex-players - easier in sifting through the many names and selecting an all-time Pakistan XI?

Perhaps more so than we can imagine initially, for there are, if we put our minds to it, quite a number of players who pick themselves and would make the XI of almost every Pakistan fan. But there are issues, of course - little ones and not so little ones. Where would you, for example, play Majid Khan, if you play him at all: as opener or in the middle order?

A more basic one involves the question of the very shape of the line-up. Should it have five bowlers, including one of the greatest allrounders the world has seen, and thus enforce the area that has always been Pakistan's strength and source of most of their triumphs? Or should it have four and instead beef up the batting, traditionally Pakistan's weaker suit? That debate, among many others, readers, begins here.

We start with what has been, at least in the modern age, Pakistan's most vexing problem (fielding aside). Count has been lost of the openers and opening combinations that have been tried over the last five years, and still no settled pair appears in sight. But that is not to say that quality has not been produced over the years, or even variety. There have been the monumentally patient and technically robust, as was Pakistan's first - some say best - opener, Hanif Mohammad. There have been those who have made up for gaps in technique with their hearts, like Hanif's younger brother Sadiq and Aamer Sohail.

Others have been impeccable stylists, and effective ones at that. We remember the value of Majid's hundred before lunch against New Zealand in Karachi, but we also celebrate the grace and elegance with which it was made. Majid disciple Mohsin Khan's double at Lord's is similarly recalled. Pakistan's most modern opener, in terms of taking an attack to the bowling side, has also been one of its best: Saeed Anwar.

Who opens the XI essentially answers the question of how we want this team to be moulded: with weak openers, Pakistan have been on the back foot, relying on the middle order too much. With a solid opening pair have come Pakistan's most attacking sides.

*South Africa have a slightly higher proportion overall, but their statistics are essentially those of two countries, pre and post-apartheid. Post 1991 the proportion of one-Test careers is under 10%.

The contenders

Aamer Sohail
Abrasive and aggressive, Sohail formed one half of Pakistan's last successful and stable opening pairs with Saeed Anwar. He was particularly strong off the back foot, though as a fluent double-hundred at Old Trafford in 1992 showed, he had the nous to expand his game. He also brings to the table useful spin, good catching hands and an attitude.

Hanif Mohammad
When renowned coach Alf Gover set eyes upon a young, yet-to-debut Hanif in 1951, he said he wouldn't change a thing about him (and advised others not to do so as well), so complete was he. The most technically sound opening batsman Pakistan have had, by some distance, Hanif also possessed a most critical quality: patience. Naturally an attacking batsman, Hanif chose stoic abstinence to further the cause of a Pakistan side full of merry strokemakers. Like Bradman's average, Hanif's 16-hour Bridgetown marathon of defiance will not be easily - if ever - bettered.

Saeed Anwar
A pair on debut doesn't promise much, but like Graham Gooch, Anwar forged a remarkable career from that adversity. The magic was in his wrists, and he had such timing and sense of placement that poor footwork hardly mattered. He was a very modern opener, in that he attacked no matter what the format and situation; and that he maintains the highest average of this august company says many things.

Majid Khan
Somehow it is fitting that one of Pakistan's best openers didn't even start life as one, or that he took to the role so late. Majid remains one of the country's most stylish opening batsmen. He loved to hook and the driving was, on its day, a thing of joy. He did it all looking as if he hardly cared. That he is one of the best slippers ever from Pakistan is a bonus.

Mudassar Nazar
A solid contrast to his regular partner, the flashier Mohsin Khan, Mudassar was a batsman of immense patience, though not as compact as Hanif or with as many strokes. He holds the record for the slowest Test hundred, and alongside his father, Nazar Mohammad, is one of only four Pakistanis to carry their bat through a completed innings. In the right conditions, a more than handy swing bowler.

Sadiq Mohammad
A right-hander at birth, he was told to switch by elder brothers Hanif and Wazir because they felt he had more of a chance of succeeding that way. Sadiq was immensely brave, like all the Mohammad brothers, once saving a Test against West Indies with a heroic unbeaten 98, made after bearing a fierce facial injury. Loved taking on faster bowlers and scored runs in what were for Pakistanis tough conditions. Pakistan's success in the 70s was based on his partnership with Majid.

Mohsin Khan A stylist in the Majid mould, Mohsin could be bewitching to watch. As well as the Lord's double-hundred, he scored big runs on the bouncy surfaces of Australia, a bogey venue for most of his countrymen.

* South Africa have a slightly higher proportion overall, but their statistics are essentially that of two countries, pre and post-Apartheid. Post 1991 the proportion of one-Test careers is under 10%.

We'll be publishing an all-time Pakistan XI based on readers' votes to go with our jury's XI. To pick your openers click here

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (April 15, 2010, 21:56 GMT)

1.Saeed anwar 2.Hanif mohammad 3.Zaheer abbas 4.Inzamam ul haq 5.Mohammad Yousuf 6.Javed Miandad 7.Imran Khan 8.Moin Khan 9.Wasim Akram 10.Waqar Younis 11.Abdul Qadir 12th man Shahid Afridi

Posted by realredbaron on (April 15, 2010, 20:38 GMT)

Hanif Mohammad is the default choice. I would have picked Hanif Mohammad in all time subcontinental team any day. Reading the comments of some Pakistanis here(I am not a Pakistani myself), I am utterly shocked that many did not choose Hanif Mohammad as their choice! This is like Aussies not choosing Bradman in their team. I guess it reflects how most Pakistani cricket fans here belong to the generation who grew up watching Anwar and Sohail. Beside Hanif Mohammad, I would have chosen Mudassir Nazar or Majid Khan but Saeed Anwar's popularity might win him a place with Hanif Mohammad.

Posted by ahassan on (April 15, 2010, 19:29 GMT)

My all time Pakistan test XI would be 1.Hanif 2.Saeed 3.Zaheer 4.Javed 5. Inzamam 6. Yousuf 7.Imran (captain) 8.Wasim 9.Fazal 10. Qadir 11.Waqar 12th man Younus Khan. I will ask Hanif to keep wickets. He was Pakistan's first official test wicket keeper. I find it difficult to sacrifice any of the above batsmen or bowlers to accomodate a regular wicket keeper. Most of the readers know the names of Wasim Bari, Moin Khan, Rashid Latif, Saleem Yousuf and Kamran Akmal but forgetting Imtiaz Ahmed who was the safest wicketkeeper of them all and the best wicketkeeper-batsman of Pakistan. If I have to select a wicket keeper then it would be Imtiaz Ahmed. Those who saw Fazal bowl consider him to be the best Pakistani fast bowler. He was the one who helped Pakistan acheive test status and had a hand in all the important wins of Pakistan during the early years. It was also difficult to leave Saqlain but Qadir was the best Pakistani spinner. 12th man Younus Khan is the best pakistani fielder.

Posted by Kumar_m on (April 15, 2010, 19:15 GMT)

My oppening pair is Hanif Muhammad & Saeed Anwar.

There are great names like Fazal Mahmood, Mushtaq Muhammad, Asif Iqbal, Majid Khan, Shoaib Akhtar, Younas Khan, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saqlain Mushtaq and many mor but my Pak Eleven is: 1) Hanif Mohammad 2)Saeed Anwar 3) Zaheer Abbas 4) Javed Maindad 5) Inzimam Ul-Haq 6) Muhammad Yousaf 7) Imran Khan (CAPT) 8) Wasim Akram 9)Waseem Bari (WK)10) Abdul Qadir 11)Waqar Younis

Posted by   on (April 15, 2010, 18:59 GMT)

i tihink saeed anwar and majid khan was the best

Posted by Kumar_m on (April 15, 2010, 18:19 GMT)

My oppening pair is Hanif Muhammad & Saeed Anwar.

There are great names like Fazal Mahmood, Mushtaq Muhammad, Asif Iqbal, Majid Khan, Shoaib Akhtar, Younas Khan, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saqlain Mushtaq and many mor but my Pak Eleven is: 1) Hanif Mohammad 2)Saeed Anwar 3) Zaheer Abbas 4) Javed Maindad 5) Inzimam Ul-Haq 6) Muhammad Yousaf 7) Imran Khan (CAPT) 8) Wasim Akram 9)Waseem Bari (WK)10) Abdul Qadir 11)Waqar Younis

Posted by   on (April 15, 2010, 17:32 GMT)

i would suggest with no doubt that saeed anwar and hanif mohammad i are the best choices.and i will suggest my xi with explanation...3.zahher abbas,nobody is better tehn the asian brademan.he was attacking like rikcy ponting and had sound technique.no4.mohammad yousuf bocz of his outstanding states in both forms of the game.5.javed miandad.who could play the spinners better then javed miandad.he is a match winner if pakistan loose early wickets he could play a match winning innings.no.6 imran khan.the alltime great allrounder and captain cricket has ever seen.he gives u a strong middle batsman and a attacking great fast bowler.i guess he is one of the automatic choices without any doubt.7.wasim bari...well it was a very very difficult choice.its really hard to left out likes of rashid latif moin khan and saleem yousuf..but bocoz of better wicket keeping skils i would prefer wasim bari.8.wasim akram. automatic choice.9.saqlain mushtaq.10 abdulqadir.11.waqar younis is an automatic choic

Posted by pipsonian on (April 15, 2010, 16:58 GMT)

Playing on Bouncy wickets, Aamir sohail was a way better opener than Saeed Anwar but he didnt do justice to his talent. One of the reason Imran didnt select Saeed for WC 92 was that Saeed was not a good backfoot player and Australian wickets demanded that. Again if the playing X1 is playing on a bouncy wicket i would pick Aaamir Sohail and one from Hanif/Majid.

Posted by Hangover on (April 15, 2010, 15:56 GMT)

continue from previous post ODI team: 1. Saeed Anwar, 2. Majid khan. 3. Zaheer Abbas 4. Javed Minandad, 5. inzi 6. Moin Khan 7. Imran Khan (c) 8. Wasim Akram 9. waqar younis / Shoaib Akhtar (of 1999-2000 ear, not the drama queen version) 10. saqlain Mushtaq/ Abdul Qadir 11. Sarfarz Nawaz (the pioneer of reverse swing)

Posted by Hangover on (April 15, 2010, 15:54 GMT)

well Pakistani cricket has always produced exciting cricketers.... during early 90s The england princess came to the cricket grounds just to see waqar younis in actions..... Usain bolt the fastest man on the planet idolizes waqar younis and loved and supported pakistani cricket team instead of following the windies........ so my test team would be.... 1. Hanif Muhammad, (the (original) little master 2. Majid khan, 3. Zaheer Abbas, 4. Javed Minandad, 5. inzi 6. Moin Khan/Saleem Yousaf 7. Imran Khan (c) 8. Wasim Akram 9. waqar younis 10. saqlain Mushtaq/ Abdul Qadir 11. Sarfraz Nawaz/ Fazal Mehmood ODI team: 1. Saeed Anwar, 2. Majid khan. 3. Zaheer Abbas 4. Javed Minandad, 5. inzi 6. Moin Khan 7. Imran Khan (c) 8. Wasim Akram 9. waqar younis / Shoaib Akhtar (of 1999-2000 ear, not the drama queen version) 10. saqlain Mushtaq/ Abdul Qadir 11. Sarfarz Nawaz (the pioneer of reverse swing)

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Osman SamiuddinClose
Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.

Pakistan Jury

Arif Abbasi
Arif Abbasi
Served Pakistan cricket in a number of administrative capacities through the 1980s and 90s. Was a key member of the organising committee for the 1996 World Cup.
XI: Aamer Sohail, Saeed Anwar, Mohsin Khan, Javed Miandad, Saleem Malik, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Saqlain Mushtaq, Waqar Younis, Rashid Latif, Mohammad Zahid
Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi
A cricket writer for Dawn, Cricinfo and The Wisden Cricketer. Advised on the change in the throwing law; once hit Michael Atherton for three successive boundaries, and also bowled former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
XI: Hanif Mohammad, Saeed Anwar, Majid Khan, Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan, Moin Khan, Wasim Akram, Abdul Qadir, Waqar Younis
Qamar Ahmed
Qamar Ahmed
Played first-class cricket for Sindh, South Zone and Hyderabad, and coached in Holland. Has reported on 370 Tests, over 700 ODIs and eight World Cups for such media outlets as the BBC, Reuters, AFP, The Times, The Guardian, Dawn, ABC, ESPN and Ten Sports.
XI: Hanif Mohammad, Majid Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Moin Khan, Waqar Younis, Abdul Qadir, Sarfraz Nawaz
Intikhab Alam
Intikhab Alam
Played 47 Tests (captained in 17) and four ODIs for Pakistan as a legspinning allrounder between 1959 and 1977. Was manager-coach of the 1992 World Cup-winning side, and had two stints as coach of the national side.
XI: Hanif Mohammad, Majid Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Wasim Bari, Fazal Mahmood, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Abdul Qadir
Khadim Baloch
Khadim Baloch
The Pakistan Cricket Board's first advisor on Archives, Museum and Library. Has written on the history of Karachi cricket as well, and an encyclopedia of Pakistan cricket.
XI: Hanif Mohammad, Majid Khan, Javed Miandad, Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Wasim Bari, Fazal Mahmood, Mushtaq Ahmed, Waqar Younis
Shaharyar Khan
Shaharyar Khan
Managed the Pakistan side on the 1998-99 tour of India. Served as chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board in the 2000s. Has also written two books on the game.
XI: Hanif Mohammad, Saeed Anwar, Zaheer Abbas, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Javed Miandad, Imran Khan, Rashid Latif, Abdul Qadir, Wasim Akram, Fazal Mahmood, Waqar Younis
Chishty Mujahid
Chishty Mujahid
Former director of the Pakistan Cricket Board. Radio and television commentator for over 40 years, for the likes of PTV, Ten Sports, SABC and All India Radio.
XI: Hanif Mohammad, Mudassar Nazar, Younis Khan, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Imran Khan, Rashid Latif, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Abdul Qadir
Salahuddin Mulla
Salahuddin Mulla
Played five Tests for Pakistan in the 1960s, and club cricket in Scotland. Served on nine different national selection committees from 1980 on, twice as chief selector.
XI: Hanif Mohammad, Saeed Anwar, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Wasim Bari, Waqar Younis, Abdul Qadir
Ramiz Raja
Ramiz Raja
Played 57 Tests (five as captain) and 198 ODIs for Pakistan between 1984 and 1997. Served as CEO of the PCB in the first half of the 2000s. Currently a commentator.
XI: Saeed Anwar, Hanif Mohammad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Javed Miandad, Mohammad Yousuf, Imran Khan, Wasim Bari, Wasim Akram, Abdul Qadir, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis.
Osman Samiuddin
Osman Samiuddin
Pakistan editor of Cricinfo
XI: Hanif Mohammad, Saeed Anwar, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Saleem Malik, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan, Rashid Latif, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Abdul Qadir.

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