Yousuf keeps the faith against England
by AFP

Player:Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam-ul-Haq, LE Plunkett, Shoaib Akhtar, Shoaib Malik, Naved-ul-Hasan, Mohammad Asif, Younis Khan
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 16th July 2006


Some batsmen put their trust in a coach but for Pakistan's Mohammad Yousuf belief in Islam is the key to success.


The stylish right-hander will resume on 185 not out when the fourth day of the first Test gets underway at Lord's here Sunday after guiding the tourists to 409 for seven - 119 behind England's first innings 528 for nine declared.


And the man formerly known as Yousuf Youhana, and raised as a Roman Catholic in Lahore's Christian community, was in no doubt about the reason for his first Test century at Lord's.


"Everything is because of Allah, we can't do without him," Yousuf, 31, told reporters. "I converted and after that my performances have improved because of the discipline.


"I pray five times a day. When you are praying you are very disciplined. The first prayer in the morning is at 4.30am, the second at teatime, the third after the game and the next two are at 9.30pm and 10.45pm.


"I haven't changed my way of playing, or the way of my game, just the way of my life," explained Yousuf, whose Test average has rocketed from nearly 48 to just over 92 since his conversion became public late last year.


That announcement came just before England's tour of Pakistan - where the hosts went on to win the three-match Test campaign 2-0.


Yousuf's average for that series was 68.40, including a Test-best 223 at his Lahore home ground in December.


And he was equally assured Saturday, on an ideal batting pitch, against an attack missing injured Ashes-winning quicks Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones.


But Yousuf, who has so far faced 287 balls with one six and 24 fours after more than six hours at the crease, insisted runs had been hard to come by.


"They are a very good bowling side but I am in good form thanks to Allah."


Now in sight of becoming only the second Pakistani since Mohsin Khan in 1982 to make a Test double century at Lord's, Yousuf added he was happy his hundred had already got his name on the honours board at the 'home of cricket'.


"This is an historic ground and I am very happy to score a century here."


Yousuf shared a mesmeric fifth-wicket stand of 173 with Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq which featured some of the best batting yet seen in the opening


match of this four-Test series.


Inzamam was in imperious form until, on 69, a rare misjudgment saw him jump across his crease before seamer Liam Plunkett's delivery hit his unguarded middle and leg stumps.


"The ball kept a little bit low. It was disappointing because Inzamam is the best batsman in our team," said Yousuf.


Plunkett, who finished the day with creditable figures of two for 78 from 21 overs, admitted it had been hard going.


"Yousuf showed how good he was in Pakistan, he's brought his 'A' game here and he looks the business. Once he gets in the zone he stays in it and very little phases him," said the 21-year-old paceman.


Pakistan's fast bowling resources are even more depleted than England's with frontline pacemen Shoaib Akhtar (ankle), Naved-ul-Hasan (groin) and Mohammad Asif (elbow) all missing from a team also deprived of top-order batsmen Younis Khan (knee) and Shoaib Malik (elbow).


Even so, Yousuf said victory was still possible. "First we try to get the lead. It will be diffcult because we've only got three wickets left but we will try hard."


Yousuf will be joined at the crease Sunday by the dangerous Shahid Afridi, yet to get off the mark after wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal (58) became part-time off-spinner Kevin Pietersen's first Test wicket shortly before stumps.


But Plunkett insisted Afridi's aggressive style could work in England's favour.


"He plays his shots but that gives you a chance to get his wicket, especially if the ball moves a bit."

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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