Flamboyance is perhaps the best word to collectively define Pakistani batsmen. From the very first days the newly born nation took baby steps on the world stage, it has produced some of cricket’s most exciting talent. Though consistency has been a perennial problem, watching an in-form Pakistani batsman take the bowlers to the cleaners is perhaps one of the best sights in cricket. It is never easy playing for Pakistan, where success leads to hero worship and failures attract the wrath of fans. Like its exciting crop of fast bowlers, Pakistan has produced elegant and stylish batsmen who have impressed cricket fans across the world. Here we take a look at the 10 Greatest Batsmen for all time to have played for Pakistan.
10. Shoaib Malik
It may surprise many that a person who started his career as an off-break bowler makes it to the list of Pakistan’s greatest batsmen. But with more than 10,000 runs across all formats of the game, Shoaib Malik has contributed his fair share to the success of the team. In a career spanning beyond a decade, Shoaib has dealt with a lot. First, he faced a ban on his bowling due to a suspect action and, later, he also had to deal with the ire of the board. Yet, he remains one of the most exciting batsmen in ODI cricket and has a solid batting average of 35.50 (with 9 centuries) for a man who has batted lower down the order for most parts of his career.
What separates Misbah-ul-Haq from all others on this list is his tenacious patience; a rare virtue in a hot-headed team of brilliant talent! Not many expected him to reach the peaks he conquered having made his debut quite late on the international stage. But Misbah soon became the backbone of the team, a man around whom other players would build their innings, often playing second fiddle for the team’s cause. He was a gentlemanly figure, who became one of the most loved ambassadors of the game for Pakistanis abroad. Misbah captained the team successfully and finished with more than 11,000 runs to his credit across all formats of the game, scoring 10 hundreds and more than 80 half centuries.
8. Saleem Malik
Saleem Malik was one of the most gifted batsmen to have ever played for Pakistan. Square of the wicket, there were few batsmen who could match his ability to stroke away big scores. Though his career ended on a sad and controversial note with a life-ban for match fixing, he conquered great heights scoring almost 13,000 runs for his country including 20 centuries. An excellent player of spin bowling, Malik could easily tame the best spinners in the world on his day. He was equally good against seam bowlers and played many memorable knocks on green tops around the world.
7. Javed Miandad
We used the term flamboyant at this beginning of this story and if there was one player in the list who epitomizes this description it had to be Javed Miandad. The man could murder any bowling attack when the occasion demanded, but could also easily play a calm and composed innings to save a Test Match. In a career that spanned more than two decades, Javed scored over 15,000 runs at the top level and was feared by opposition bowlers. He had an impressive batting average of 41.7 in ODIs and 52.57 in Tests and scored 31 centuries in the two formats of the game.
6. Mohammad Yousuf
Mohammad Yousuf defined class and stylishness. A high back lift and delicate timing were the hallmark of this superb player, who made more than 17,000 runs at the top level, including 39 international hundreds. Throughout his career, Yousuf was the most prolific scorer in the middle order for the team. He was equally good in Tests and ODIs finishing his career with batting averages of 52.29 and 41.74, respectively. Yousuf displayed a calm mind, which is a rare quality for Pakistani batsmen of his generation, and often had to rescue his team from mindless batting collapses both in Test Matches and as well as ODIs.
5. Saeed Anwar
Undoubtedly the best opening batsman Pakistan has ever produced, Saaed Anwar was as elegant as a southpaw could get. During his heyday, he was one of the best batsmen in the world to watch. He had an incredible ODI record, scoring 8,824 runs at an impressive average of 39.21 with 20 centuries, which still remains a Pakistani record. He might have become his country’s finest batsmen but for his average test record where he made only 4,052 runs in career spanning more than a decade. Nonetheless, he remains perhaps the greatest left handed batsmen ever to play for Pakistan.
4. Zaheer Abbas
With an ODI batting average of 47.62 and Test batting average of 44.79, we are talking about someone special. Zaheer Abbas was one of the best batsmen of his generation who could play and score on all kinds of wickets. Few are ever compared to the great Sir Donald Bradman, but at the peak of his career Zaheer he was fondly called the ‘Asian Bradman’. He established his reputation thanks to his exquisite timing and with his high back lift, making him look more like an artist at work than a hard hitting batsmen. A master craftsman who built his innings steadily, he was equally good against spin and seam attack both at home and away.
3. Younis Khan
Statistics often speak for themselves and Younis Khan finished his Test career with a batting average of 52.05, scoring 10,099 runs and 34 hundreds – an enviable record. His ODI performance wasn’t bad either, notching 7,249 runs and often scripting memorable wins for his side. One of the most difficult batsmen to bowl at, Younis had the habit of coming up with great knocks when faced with adversity. A superb player of spin bowling, his elegance off the back foot was quite a sight to watch. Apart from his batting, he was also an amazing fielder in close-in position and contributed to more than 270 dismissals in a long and cherished career.
Inzamam-ul-Haq was a rare combination of power and finesse. He could murder opposition bowlers with his devastating hitting and leave them speechless with his subtlety. When he burst on the scene, he was touted as the next big batting genius for his country and, in a career that spanned 15 years, Inzamam lived up to this prophecy with his gifted batting technique. Like his tall and well-built frame, he was always looking to impose himself on the bowlers. Inzamam finished with more than 20,000 international runs to his credit, which included 35 centuries, and a batting average of 49.60 and 39.52 in Tests and ODIs, respectively.
1. Hanif Mohammad
Dubbed as the original ‘Little Master’ it would take a lot for the next generation cricketer to match the deeds and charisma of Hanif on the field. Although he didn’t score the most runs for this team, nor did he hit the most hundreds, Hanif is surely the best batsmen to have worn the Pakistani cap. Whether it was his marathon 970-minute second innings 337 against the West Indies in Bridgetown to save a Test match or his 499 in a First Class game, Hanif was capable of superhuman performances and belonged to a different league. He took on the might of the Australian, English and West Indian fast bowlers during and gave Pakistani fans plenty to cheer. Beyond the game, he was a gentleman who was highly revered and respected by the opponents. He finished his career with 3,915 runs at an average of 43.98 and 12 hundreds to his credit.
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