Mohammad Yousuf: A class apart
Mohammad Yousuf celebrated his return to Test cricket with a resolute 56 against England in the third Test at the Oval on Thursday.
His two-and-a-half hour innings ensured the visitors' dominance over the hosts for the first time in the series.
Yousuf, Pakistan's third-highest scoring Test batsman and highest of the current squad, arrived in Birmingham less than a day before start of the second Test at Edgbaston.
But he declined to play due to jetlag.
Pakistan were beaten comprehensively, thereby helping England take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
Image: Mohammad Yousuf
Back from the ban
Former captain Yousuf, banned by the Pakistan Cricket Board after he led the team on a winless tour of Australia earlier this year, was drafted into the squad after his country's crushing 354-run first Test defeat against England.
Yousuf, who was handed a one-year ban for his role in undermining morale during the dismal tour of Australia, said he had watched the humiliating first Test on television at his Lahore residence.
The 35-year-old had (before the ongoing Oval Test) played 88 Tests and averaged 53 and 70 in his 12 Tests against England, but he did not think past experience was enough to rely on in getting him through the match.
"Every Test match is a new game and although I have experience I have to give respect to England and to my team mates," he was quoted as saying then.
"I need to time to adjust," he added.
Image: Mohammad Yousuf
An interesting career
Formerly known as Yousuf Yohana, Mohammad Yousuf converted to Islam in 2005.
Before the conversion, he was the fourth Christian - and fifth Non-Muslim player - to play for Pakistan.
The moment of glory in his Test career came in 2006 when he broke the world record for most Test runs (1788) in a single calendar year.
However, despite an impeccable record, came the surprising ban in March this year.
Image: Mohd Yousuf
Yousuf had plenty of time to play at Oval
And, in his comeback, what an adjustment he made.
England's pace bowlers struggled to make an impression as Pakistan built on their initial advantage, having dismissed the hosts cheaply in their first innings.
Yousuf made 56, and his dismissal gave Graeme Swann his 100th Test wicket.
As always, Yousuf had plenty of time to play the ball despite his lack of match practice, stroking eight boundaries including six fours off Steven Finn.
He refused to take any risks until Swann enticed him into a uppish drive which the bowler accepted gleefully.
If Pakistan, having conceded a 0-2 lead in the four-match series, are to make an impression in the remainder of the Tests, Yousuf is the man who holds the key to their fortunes.
Image: Md Yousuf