Pakistan is a cricket-crazy nation and has given birth to many great cricketers. Since their independence in 1947, Pakistan has made its mark in the cricketing world with its cricketers’ talent, passion and zeal.
Choosing an all-time best Test eleven from a galaxy of cricketers is not easy. Without much ado, we will get on with the job.
1. Hanif Mohammad
The late Hanif Mohammad was a diminutive opening batter and among the best in the world during his time. In a career spanning 17 years, Hanif played in 55 Tests and scored almost 4000 runs at an average of over 43. He also scored more than 17000 runs in first-class cricket at an average of over 52.
Hanif came from a cricketing family, and his brother Mushtaque and Sadiq have played for Pakistan. Hanif had a solid technique coupled with the patience needed for building a long innings. His innings of 337 against the West Indies is still the highest score by a Pakistani in Test cricket.
2. Saeed Anwar
Talk about effortless elegance, and the name of Anwar springs into your mind. His wonderful on drives played off his legs made one spellbound with joy, and his sumptuous cover drives were so easy on the eye.
Anwar made more than 4000 runs in 55 Tests at an average over 45, a very healthy one for an opener.
However, for all his elegance and brilliance, the left-handed Anwar was more comfortable playing off his front foot than his back foot, which was why he was more successful in the subcontinent. Still, his credentials are good enough to guarantee his place on this side.
3. Younis Khan
Younis is the most successful Pakistani batsman ever, at least in terms of statistics. He scored a whopping 10099 runs in 118 Tests at an average over 52 with 34 centuries – the highest by any Pakistani.
Younis made a slot in Pakistan’s top order his own for almost one and a half decades. He is also one of the few Pakistani batsmen to have scored a triple century in Test cricket and was equally comfortable playing off his front and back foot. His ability to play cuts, pulls, and hooks also made him successful in fast and bouncy conditions.
We have earlier spoken about Saeed Anwar’s effortless elegance. Now, it’s time to talk about lazy elegance that nobody embodied more perfectly than Inzamam. The burly man from Multan looked like he could not care less while batting, but his 8830 runs from 120 Tests at an average below 50 tells a different story.
Blessed with great eyesight, Inzamam always seemed to have that extra time to play his strokes. Some of his flicks and on-drives were breathtaking, and so were some of the pulls and hooks he played. Inzamam was a slightly better player on the leg side and was also quite adept in hoisting spinners over the long-off and long-on boundaries.
5. Javed Miandad
There have been very few fighters like Miandad in world cricket. When the game was less professional and the Asian cricketers lacked the killer instinct, Miandad remained a notable exception and always wanted to win at any cost.
However, all the talks about his aggression and approach to the game should not take away from the fact that he was a great batter by any standard. He made 8832 runs from 124 Tests at an average over 52 and was a wonderful player against pace and spin. Miandad was probably a better player off his back foot but could use his feet superbly against the spinners. He used to bat at No. 4 but will come in as the No. 5 for this team because if any cricketer could adapt quickly to any situation, it was Miandad. Possessing a sharp cricketing brain, he will also be the vice-captain of this side.
6. Imran Khan (C)
One of the most popular icons the game has ever seen, the incredibly handsome and charismatic Imran was one of the leading allrounders in the world during the 1970s and 1980s. While he regularly made headlines for reasons unrelated to cricket, they never seemed to have affected his exploits on the field.
Imran was a tearaway fast bowler in his prime and could bowl lethal in-swingers at a scorching pace. He was also a technically sound batsman whose batting improved as his career progressed. He took 362 wickets in 88 Tests, averaging 22 and made 3807 runs at 37. During his captaincy, Pakistan became a leading nation in world cricket. Under his leadership, Pakistan was twice able to draw a Test series against the mighty West Indies in the 1980s, and there could be no better man to lead this side.
7. Moin Khan (WK)
There are candidates like Wasim Bari and Rasheed Latif – the latter being a contemporary of Moin and arguably a better wicket-keeper – but Moin comes into the side by virtue of his superior batting skills. He played many useful knocks while batting in the lower-middle order for his country and should get the nod.
Moin made 2741 runs from 69 Tests at an average of 28. However, his wicket-keeping skills should not be underestimated either, as he kept successfully to pacers and spinners alike. Some of his acrobatic catches were delightful to watch, and he finished his career with 148 dismissals in Tests.
8. Wasim Akram
Very few cricketers are as talented and versatile as Wasim Akram. Be it swinging the ball both ways while bowling with a shorter run-up or scoring useful runs in the lower order with some lusty hits, Akram could do it all and more and walks into this team.
Akram was one of the world’s leading pacers for most of his career, spanning almost two decades. He took the mantle from an ageing Imran early in his career and took 414 wickets from 104 Tests at 23 and also made 2898 runs at 22. He also captained Pakistan for quite a long period.
9. Waqar Younis
If Akram took the mantle from Imran, Waqar did burst into the international scene after a few years to share the responsibility of taking wickets with the new ball for Pakistan. He formed a lethal partnership with Akram to torment batters worldwide.
At his best, Waqar running into bowl was a sight to behold. His famous in-swinging Yorkers also referred to as “toe-crushers”, kept troubling many a batsman, casting them or trapping them in front of the wicket. Waqar also developed a beautiful out-swinger as his career progressed and became a craftier bowler during the latter part. He took 373 wickets at 23 in 87 Tests for Pakistan.
10. Abdul Qadir
The late Abdul Qadir was one of the craftiest wrist spinners of his time and served Pakistani cricket for quite a long period. He often had to bowl on pitches more conducive for pace bowling and got little assistance from them.
Still, he had enough variations, including a nice googly, to trouble the batters and took 236 wickets at 32 in 67 Tests. He also took nearly 1000 wickets in first-class cricket and remained a loyal soldier to Imran Khan. Also, Qadir was a reliable lower-order batter and could clear the ropes with his big shots.
11. Shoaib Akhtar
There was hardly a batter in the late 1990s and 2000s whose heart did not beat faster at the prospect of facing Akhtar, one of the fastest and deadliest quicks of all time. Akhtar became a household name with the double scalp of Rahul David and Sachin Tendulkar at the Eden Gardens and was capable of regularly bowling at express pace and never looked back after that.
Akhtar was capable of bowling Yorkers and used them frequently, too. However, his bouncers – bowled at 150 kmph or above – unnerved most of the batters he bowled to. However, injuries were bound to occur to Akhtar due to his vigorous action, and he could play in only 46 Tests. Still, he took 178 wickets at 25 and succeeded in giving many batters sleepless nights.
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