PCB has left out experienced middle-order batsman Mohammad Yousuf from the ODI squad which is due to face New Zealand in a 6 match ODI starting later this month. Yousuf has been an integral part of the Pakistan’s middle order in Tests and ODIs ever since he made his debut as Yousuf Youhana in 1998. He is widely regarded as arguably the best batsman Pakistan has produced after Inzimam ul Haq. The omission has left his future looking bleak after he was named in the 30 man provisional squad for the World Cup.
The 36-year-old who has scored over 7500 test runs was left out of the test series against South Africa and New Zealand citing lack of fitness and form. Yousuf was keen to regain his touch but did not perform up to par in the few Quaid-e-Azam trophy matches he played. He later left for Bangladesh to play for the Mohammadens Club in the Premier Division Cricket League of the country.
He has been a vital cog in Pakistan’s ODI middle order and first came into prominence during the 1999 world cup in England where he was one of the star performers from Pakistan but missed the final against Australia (which Pakistan went onto lose) due to a hamstring injury.
Yousuf has an incredible record in the 50-over format of the game. He is the second highest averaging Asian in the one-day format after Sachin Tendulkar at 41.71. He has played a total of 288 one-day games and has scored 9720 runs with 15 hundreds and 64 half-centuries. His highest score of 141* came against Zimbabwe.
Yousuf - Will he bow out with dignity?
On Asian pitches he is a master of milking runs and keeping the run rate going in the middle overs and in a weak Pakistani batting line up he is one of the few who is able to play a long innings. With Younis Khan and now Misbah ul Haq in the team Yusuf’s chances of playing the upcoming world cup look bleak since the selectors will opt for young blood to balance out the squad.
Personally I believe that Yousuf should have gotten the nod over Misbah ul Haq because he is a much better accumulator than the test captain. He does not stall in the middle of the innings where keeping the flow of runs going is very important for a team to post a good total on the board.Knowing the unpredictable nature of PCB you cannot rule out the possibility that Yousuf will be back for the world cup, but if he is selected it will be a very poor strategy by the selectors who will throw him into the biggest cricketing event after having kept him out of international cricket for so long.