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Pakistani Squad

Saqlain Mushtaq

Born: 29 December 1976, Lahore, Punjab
Major Teams: Islamabad Cricket Association, Pakistan International Airlines, Surrey, Pakistan.
Known As: Saqlain Mushtaq
Pronounced: Saqlain Mushtaq
Batting Style: Right Hand Bat
Bowling Style: Right Arm Off Break
Test Debut: Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Peshawar, 1st Test, 1995/96
Latest Test: Pakistan v South Africa at Durban, 1st Test, 2002/03
ODI Debut: Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Gujranwala, 1st ODI, 1995/96
Latest ODI: Pakistan v South Africa at Cape Town, 5th ODI, 2002/03


The only good thing for Pakistan in the disastrous home series against Sri Lanka of 1995-96 (which Pakistan lost 2-1) was the discovery of 19-year-old off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq. Saqlain made his debut in the first match of the series and claimed his first Test wicket with only the seventh ball. He has continued to improve since then, and has come to be considered as one of the game's premier off-spinners. He has an easy action, bowls with great control and variation. He rarely bowls a loose ball, and has found greater success in the shorter version of the game. The main weapon in Saqlain's armory is his "floater", known as the "Mystery Ball" by some - the one which drifts away from a right-handed batsman. He has probably found more wickets with this ball than with the conventional off-breaks.

Saqlain always has his priorities fixed: to take wickets by baffling the batsmen. But more importantly he is a team player, who prefers team's success to everything else. The brightest moment of Saqlain's career is possibly his sterling performance on the tour of India in 1998-99, when he took 24 wickets in three Tests. His ten-wicket haul in the Chennai Test brought a nerve tingling 12-run victory to Pakistan.

Saqlain belongs to that rare category of spin bowlers who have claimed hat trick in One-day cricket on not one but two occasions. Incidentally for him, his opposition on both these occasions was Zimbabwe. He also holds the unique distinctions of reaching 100 and 150 wickets in Tests in the shortest time, as well as taking the highest number of wickets in a calendar year in ODI's. In a little over a span of two years, he has already taken more than 150 wickets.

Saqlain is no stranger with the bat. He usually comes into bat at number seven or eight and has the ability to frustrate the bowling attack with his flawless concentration and rock-solid defense. He has played some memorable and match saving innings for Pakistan batting at this position, so much so that some analysts are even prepared to give him the status of an all-rounder. It was one of such innings, when batting with Wasim Akram, he set a world record for the 8th wicket in Tests against Zimbabwe in 1996. In the summer of 1997 he took part in the English County circuit playing for Surrey and found unprecedented success while bowling on the bouncy tracks.