Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pakistan make Yousuf U-turn

Four months after being banned for damaging team morale, Mohammad Yousuf was recalled to a Pakistan side simply desperate for his experience and batting prowess.

Without Yousuf or Younis Khan in their line-up, the Pakistanis were bowled out for 80 by England to slump to a crushing 354-run defeat on Sunday in the first Test of a four-match series.

It exposed the inability of Pakistan's raw batting line-up to cope with the swinging ball in overcast English conditions and hours after the match ended Yousuf was recalled from the international wilderness.

Yousuf and Younis, Pakistan's two most experienced batsmen, were each given indefinite bans this year for their part in alleged infighting within the team.

Younis had his ban overturned on appeal and made himself available for the tour but was overlooked.

Yousuf, who has scored 7,431 runs in 88 Tests including 24 centuries, did not challenge his ban and retired, but he has since changed his mind.


New Pakistan captain Salman Butt could do little more than reiterate his faith in the young players after the chastening defeat by England but he must be delighted by the recall of Yousuf.

"Under my captaincy we have won one, lost one," Butt said.

"I can't be that impatient. What do you expect from (the youngsters) - win every game? That will not happen.

"This is the time when you back your players. It is just a matter of putting up a performance, whether it is bowling, fielding, batting. I know they can make a comeback."

Coach Waqar Younis offered a similar upbeat assessment.

"What I have seen over the last two or three months is a big improvement (in the team) Waqar told reporters.

"I want to make a good unit out of them. It might take a few more losses, though."

Matches against South Africa later this year on the featherbed pitches of Abu Dhabi would be better venues for the development of the youngsters.

For now, Pakistan are crying out for Yousuf, who showed on the 2006 England tour that the swinging ball was not to be feared but could be countered through hard work and application.

Butt pointed out that in 2006 Pakistan did not win a Test when Yousuf and Younis were in the team along with the great Inzamam-ul-Haq but they did not then possess such a strong bowling attack.

Mohammad Asif, 18-year-old Mohammad Aamer and Umar Gul form a formidable seam unit and with Yousuf back to provide backbone for the batting order, England should face a much sterner test in the next match in Birmingham starting on Friday.

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