Pakistan’s historic whitewash against England has attracted well deserved acclaim from all around the world. The series win is special not only because England are the number one test side, but also because this win saw some fine young talents come of age. Here’s our out of 10 ranking for the men in green (wearing whites)
1. Misbah Ul Haq – 10 out of 10
Misbah Ul Haq entered this series as someone most Pakistanis remembered for that horrendous shot in the inaugural World T20 Final and a ”masterclass” against India at Mohali. But now, as the whole nation celebrates this monumental feat of greenwashing the no.1 Test team in the world, there isn’t a Pakistani who has anything but respect for the ice-man from Mianwali. Misbah has not only grown in stature due to his calm leadership but has also won countless fans, local and international, for his statesmen like attitude while representing his team. His batting, no matter how boring, has been pivotal in Pakistan’s revival as a Test force. It was his sheer leadership qualities that have cahnged this Pakistan team, lacking its past glamour and aura, into a closely knit group of mutually benefiting cricketers. His days as an international cricketer might be running out, but Misbah Ul Haq has already done enough for us to forget Johannesburg 2007.
2. Saeed Ajmal – 9.5 out of 10
When this series began, most cricket pundits rated Saeed Ajmal as the 2nd best off spinner behind Graeme Swann. 24 wickets, hundreds of Doosras, a few Teesras, chucking allegations and many embarrassed Englishmen later, Saeed Ajmal stands as the undisputed champion of spinners in the world. Ajmal made a mockery of some of the leading batsmen of the English team and left an impact as intense as that of Wasim and Waqar’s reverse swing during the 90′s. Somewhere in England, his mentor must be very proud of him.
3. Abdur Rehman – 9 out of 10
If ever there was an award for the most under rated and hardworking bowler, it had to go to this man. Nobody expected anything from Abdur Rehman when the series began. And his insignificance was intensified after the one man show of Saeed Ajmal in the first Test. But quietly, Abdur Rehman kept bowling over after over of highly skilled line and length deliveries. In hindsight, Abdur Rehman’s contribution to the victory was as crucial as anyone in the Pakistan team.
4. Azhar Ali – 9 out of 10
Azhar Ali entered this series with a certain level of expectation from cricketing pundits. His consistent performances over the last year had given him a secure spot in the team, but he still had to show that he could perform against genuinely threatening bowling attacks as well. In a series where batsmen from both teams failed miserably, Azhar Ali stands out as the star performer with an average of over 50. His 157 in the 3rd Test might be the most crucial innings he ever plays for Pakistan. With Younis and Misbah nearing their ends, the emergence of Azhar is a bright sign for Pakistan.
5. Asad Shafiq – 8 out of 10
Asad has it all as a batsman. Elegance, touch, timing, class, but somehow his place was still regularly challenged by the more flamboyant Umar Akmal. With this series, however, Asad has secured his spot in the team and has silenced many of his doubters. He couldn’t score a century but his handy contributions, when others failed, were the backbone of Pakistan’s wins in all three tests. He has repeatedly mentioned Muhammad Yusuf as his role model in batting and if he keeps on contributing like this in future as well, he might soon fill the gap that the retirement of Yusuf has left.
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6. Younis Khan – 7 out 10
Before the last innings, Younis had a rather forgettable series. His timing was not there and his innings didn’t have the usual flow. It all changed, however, when he played another one of his supremely mature, dominating and classy knocks that completely demoralized England. The Pathan might have been nearing the wrong side of thirties, but his batting, and more surprisingly his catching, is showing no signs of wearing down soon.
7. Umar Gul – 7 out of 10
Gul is an innocent character. Across all three tests, people virtually forgot him. It was either Ajmal or Abdur Rehman. But the last few years have brought maturity in Gul’s game. He kept honest with his job and bowled tight spells throughout the series. And when the opportunity came up in the third test, he took it with both hands and plugged out key English wickets.
8. Adnan Akmal – 6 out of 10
The Akmals are a strange lot. The oldest can bat but cant catch, the youngest can bat but cant cut the crap but the latest thinks every ball is a catch! During the whole series, Adnan Akmal’s appeals were a nightmare. He mislead Misbah numerous times with his screams for DRS and gave us plenty to laugh about with his chicken wing celebrations. But during all that, Adnan gave Pakistan a safe pair of gloves behind the wickets and a dependable batsman when needed. His knock in the first Test was as crucial as any of his team mates.
9. Muhammad Hafeez – 4 out of 10
The professor has enhanced his reputation over the last 1 year and a lot was expected off him in this series. He started well with a couple of good scores but couldn’t really show his complete range of shots in a rather disappointing series for him. His bowling, however, was useful as usual and gave Misbah the control he wanted.
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10. Aizaz Cheema – 4 out of 10
Cheema bowled with a lot of heart but not much luck. He caused many problems to the left handers, specially to Strauss, but couldn’t match the heroics of his bowling team mates in both the tests he played.
11. Tofeeq Umar – 2 out of 10
Tofeeq had a disappointing series. His technical flaws were highlighted during his dismissals against Swann and gave the Pakistan team management some cause of concern for the opening slot.
12. Junaid Khan – 1 out of 10
That one mark is for showing up! Jokes aside, this wasn’t really a seires for Junaid. We’re sure he’ll be back.