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The country's greatest batsman, the gutsiest, a dashing rescuer, and others make up the middle-order shortlist
April 19, 2010
The engine room of Pakistan's batting has forever been the middle order. Good openers have come, even a couple of greats, but the real stories have been written by those who come in once the openers have gone. Over the years, memories are brightest of the great triumvirates or quartets that have formed the belly of the line-up: Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Asif Iqbal, Mushtaq Mohammad through the 70s; Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf through the 2000s.
How spoilt Pakistan is for choice here shows in that nine names suggest themselves automatically, and probably others will add a couple more at least. Wasim Raja and Ijaz Ahmed, for example, despite their outstanding records against the leading pace attacks of their time (West Indies and Australia respectively) might have made it in some other lists.
The other dilemma is how many to have, of course. Should there be four specialist batsmen in the middle order, to shore up what is Pakistan's weaker suit? Or does the guaranteed presence of one of the world's greatest allrounders soften that need?
And one of the beauties of middle-order batsmen here has been there flexibility: barring a couple of names, most of the nominees have played at several positions in the middle order, with success. Ensuring the right order is critical to Test match success and that makes this selection trickier still, and one that will likely be most open to debate.
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