Pakistan’s overachievers continue trend of finding talent out of nowhere

Younis, Shahzad and bowlers have put Pakistan in a winning position against Australia, writes Paul Radley

Pakistani batsmen Ahmed Shahzad, right, and Younis Khan run between wickets as Australian bowler Peter Siddle, centre, looks on during the fourth day of the first Test at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on October 25, 2014. Marwan Naamani / AFP
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These are heady days for Pakistan. A scratch XI on the brink of victory against the might of Australia and supporters turning up to watch Test cricket.

By the end of Saturday’s play, Moin Khan, the been-there-done-that, got-the-World-Cup-winner’s medal manager of Pakistan, was even taking selfies to commemorate the occasion. It felt like that sort of day. Again.

There was no indication that this was about to happen.

It seems to have appeared somewhere between their best bowler getting binned for chucking, their most powerful player making a grab for leadership of the one-day team, and all the strike bowlers in the country going down injured.

This Test match was supposed to be men against boys. But the boys are winning, coasting, cruising.

Those who are in the know had forecast as much.

On arrival in the country for this series, Darren Lehmann, Australia’s coach, said there was absolutely no chance his players would be discounting Pakistan, no matter how bedraggled they seemed at the time.

“History shows they always manage to pull some really good, young players from somewhere,” Lehmann said.

How prophetic.

There seems no rhyme or reason to how Pakistan keep finding them.

Yasir Shah had no Test caps before arriving here. At the end of Day 4 he had figures of two for eight from seven overs, the wicket of Michael Clarke in his pocket and a cyber endorsement from Shane Warne. There have been worse debuts.

Sarfraz Ahmed, having been mistrusted in his early days, is only nine Tests into his career, but he is on an absolute burner now.

Many sixth-Test newbies would have been cowed by the blow to the chest that struck Ahmed Shahzad from the bowling of Mitchell Johnson in the morning session.

Yet he ploughed on for his second Test ton. He is the present and future for Pakistan.

Then there is Zulfiqar Babar, who is 35 but looks older and has just two Test caps. He looks like he has been doing this for years.

Michael Clarke, Australia’s captain, reiterated the point at the close of play.

“I said before a ball was bowled in this series that they were going to be extremely tough in these conditions,” said the No 4 batsman, who had been so shell-shocked by Pakistan’s onslaught he opted not to review his lbw dismissal even though he had clearly struck the ball before it hit his pad.

“They have a lot of experience in their Test team and I think you have seen that already over the four days,” Clarke said.

The experience to which he referred is mainly divided between just two players – Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.

While captain Misbah has held a typically cool hand on the tiller, this Test match has undoubtedly belonged to Younis.

Dual centuries. A ream of records. You might have thought he should feel appreciated. It is a sporting travesty that sometimes he does not.

“At one stage I was thinking I would not go for Test matches because Australia is a top ranking team, so it would be a good time to leave,” said Younis, 36.

“It was my thinking to go there and play for your country, play for yourself and play for your family and friends.

"If I can make something, I would be a proud Pakistani. I feel like a proud Pakistani."

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