Yousuf hails religion for batting success
by CricketArchive staff reporter

Player:Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam-ul-Haq, RS Dravid

DateLine: 18th November 2006


Pakistan's prolific batsman Mohammad Yousuf said he owed his batting success to his conversion to Islam - and support from his captain Inzamam-ul-Haq. "The maturity and discipline in my batting is because of Almighty Allah's blessings and I have been more mature and disciplined since I started offering prayers five times a day," Yousuf said. The elegant 32-year-old batsman, formerly known as Yousuf Youhana, converted to Islam from Christianity last year and now sports the longest beard in a team that is already full of devout believers. Yousuf climbed to second place in the International Cricket Council (ICC) player rankings for Test batsmen after his 192 against the West Indies in the first Test at Lahore, which Pakistan won on Tuesday. The ICC said Yousuf had amassed the most ratings points of any Pakistani batsman in history, breaking the 900-barrier for the first time and surpassing former great Javed Miandad's highest ranking of 885, achieved in February 1989. "It is in itself an achievement that now I am number two in the batsmen's rankings. I am very happy that my runs are made for my team and Inzamam supports me a lot," said Yousuf who is already the world's leading run-scorer in the calendar year, with 1,315 runs from only nine matches. The total includes six hundreds, one of them the 202 he made against England at Lord's in July this year. Yousuf overtook Indian captain Rahul Dravid with his knock in Lahore and is behind only Australian captain Ricky Ponting in the ICC batsmen's list. Inzamam hailed Yousuf's achievements and said he was a team man to the core. "Yousuf has been playing at his best. I rate him a better batsman than Ponting and Dravid. He is a class act," said Inzamam. Inzamam last month dismissed concerns about the increased influence of Islam on Pakistan's cricketers, saying he never forced anyone to pray or grow a beard. He was reacting to comments by the country's cricket chief Nasim Ashraf that players should not feel under pressure to be religious and there should be a balance between their faith and sporting activities. Yousuf has 5,929 runs in 71 Tests and needs another 71 runs to reach the 6,000-run mark, a feat he could achieve in the second Test between Pakistan and the West Indies, which starts here on Sunday


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