||27 August 1974
This much is at least certain that few Pakistani batsmen have been as elegant as Mohammad Yousuf and fewer still have been as prolific, as hungry to bat as long and bat as big.
At his best, watching Yousuf bat is an unnervingly tranquil experience, especially amid the traditional chaos of a Pakistan batting order. He has a dangerously high backlift, which makes every shot he plays, a late, unhurried afterthought, but a beautiful one. The feet take time to get going, but once they do, they dance with the best. Square and behind it on the off side are his areas, where his game is the most enchanting.
Both his life and career can be demarcated into two distinct phases. Until 2005, as Yousuf Youhana, he was only the fourth Christian to have played for Pakistan, and easily the most successful. He converted publicly to Islam late that year, after which he became a great Pakistani batsman and briefly part of as formidable a middle order as the country has seen, with Younis Khan and Inzamam-ul-Haq on either side. At least he believes there to be a link, and statistics would back that up.
Immediately after, in 2006, came his most profitable year, in fact the most profitable for any batsman ever in a calendar year. Over 11 Tests, he scored 1788 runs with nine hundreds, breaking Sir Viv Richards' 30-year-old record. If there had been a nagging doubt that he often withered when the heat was on - and the story of his rise from extremely humble backgrounds as a member of a minority religion should've wiped those away anyway - it was erased here.
Age, run-ins with the board since, and ill-advised flirtations with the ICL and captaincy dimmed his aura but the worst came in March 2010, when the PCB imposed a life-ban on him, along with Younis Khan as a part of its unprecedentedly harsh sanctions on senior players from the ill-fated tour of Australia. Yousuf's was overturned in 2010.