"Younis Khan is the ugliest to watch." That was me speaking about one of the only two Pakistani centurions in their recent tour of South Africa. I was talking to an unconditional and biased Afridi fan-girl.
"I think Afridi is the ugliest," she responds. She speaks of a man who has picked up two Man-of-the-Match gongs during the tour of West Indies, and was the second highest run-getter in the team in the ODI leg of the South Africa tour.
"Misbah is the ugliest to watch after Younis Khan," I add to the conversation. Misbah is the highest run-getter in ODIs so far this year, and the only Pakistani to figure in the top ten of the ICC ODI rankings. His consistency earned him the Player of the Tournament award in the West Indies.
"Hafeez is the prettiest to watch." - I stick with the basic sentence structure. Dale Steyn's bunny, Hafeez managed scores of 6, 2, 17, 0, 18 and 0 in the South Africa Tests. "Hafeez is the prettiest in the subcontinent," she says, revealing her soft spot for Hafeez. I should have known - her Pakistan jersey has his name stenciled on the back. Hafeez has made 148 runs in his last ten ODIs against ICC Full Members, a tally inflated by a solitary half-century amid a string of sorry scores.
This very insightful discussion threw up a question in my mind. Is ugly the way to go for Pakistani batting? It certainly seems to be doing a far better job than the man who is unanimously rated the most stylish batsman in the country. Thing is, we Pakistani cricket fans have been deprived of consistency for so long that we may as well change our definitions of 'ugly'. Misbah's consistent run and his stubborn survival at the crease has its own charm. If nothing else, I've begin to admire the tiny asterisk mark that accompanies his score almost always on the TV scorecards. (Yes, Pakistani batting can get that dull that I start focusing on asterisks). And Afridi, with all his madness and ugliness, has still managed to contribute with the bat. He is as consistent as I think he'll ever be.
So maybe for Pakistani batting, ugly is indeed the way to go. We might as well bring in ugly Younis for an upcoming test series. Ugly Misbah and ugly Afridi can stay too. Ugly is the new beautiful.
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