||20 June 1981
A left-hand opener from Lahore, Taufeeq Umar first made his mark in the Lombard World Under-15 Challenge in England in 1996. He made 87 against England in the semi-final, and in the final, which Pakistan lost to India, he opened with Hasan Raza, who was to play Test cricket shortly afterwards. A front-foot player who drives well, Taufeeq is nonetheless a good cutter. He can also bowl some handy offspin. Taufeeq could not have asked for an easier initiation into international cricket - he played his first Test against Bangladesh in 2001, and duly notched up a hundred to become the eighth player to score a century on Test debut for Pakistan. But far more impressive were his subsequent performances - an 88 against a top-class Australian attack was followed by a flawless 135 against South Africa in Cape Town in 2003. On those bouncy pitches, Taufeeq had ample time to play the seamers. He did not get much opportunity in the World Cup, but showed himself to be an absolute asset in Pakistan's home series against South Africa, scoring a hundred and three fifties in four innings. Yet, as a result of Pakistan's lack of patience with their openers, he was axed a few Tests later after a string of moderate performances. That was followed by a period when he was in and out of the team, but when he was dropped from the Test side for four years between 2006 and 2010, it seemed the selectors had forgotten about him. However, he returned in 2010 for the series against South Africa, and gradually established himself as a regular opener. It helped that he also showed the hunger to make up for lost time: against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi in October 2011, he displayed tremendous application and patience to score 236, thus becoming only the seventh Pakistan opener - and the first since 1992 - to score a Test double-century.