From a series perspective, Pakistan have played 133 Test series, winning 51, losing 44 and drawing 38. This is a much more interesting and accurate picture of Pakistani Test cricket, which reveals how much of a successful side it has been. © Getty Images

From a series perspective, Pakistan have played 133 Test series, winning 51, losing 44 and drawing 38. This is a much more interesting and accurate picture of Pakistani Test cricket, which reveals how much of a successful side it has been. © Getty Images

Impact Index presents the highest impact Test cricketers in Pakistan history.

From October 1952 till September 2014, Pakistan have played 382 Tests. They’ve won 118 Tests, lost 109 and drawn 155. That’s standard spiel.

From a series perspective (the real picture, as per Impact Index), Pakistan have played 133 Test series (Oct 1952- Sep 2014), winning 51, losing 44 and drawing 38 (try finding this fact on any website without manual counting). This is a much more interesting and accurate picture of Pakistani Test cricket, which reveals how much of a successful side it has been.

We’ve found the highest impact players of all time for Pakistan, in a series context, to us, the most meaningful context.

NOTE: We have taken 50 Tests as the minimum – a number based on the correlation between series-defining performances in all of Test history and number of matches played by those players. Some of the high impact players who have played less than that, we mention separately.

Highest Impact batsmen

Number Name Matches Batting Impact SDs Runs Tally Impact Pressure Impact Failure Rate (in %)
1 Inzamam-ul-Haq 118 2.62 7 1.78 0.29 42
2 Saeed Anwar 54 2.55 2 1.84 0.18 43
3 Javed Miandad 123 2.44 5 1.54 0.25 43
4 Younis Khan 89 2.33 3 1.64 0.28 42
5 Mohammad Yousuf 89 2.06 1 1.63 0.26 38
6 Asif Iqbal 57 1.93 2 1.29 0.21 49
7 Ijaz Ahmed 59 1.86 2 1.34 0.14 58
8 Majid Khan 62 1.84 2 1.2 0.14 48
9 Mudassar Nazar 75 1.80 2 1.24 0.09 56
10 Saleem Malik 101 1.79 2 1.19 0.27 53

Minimum Test matches: 50

All Impact numbers between 0 and 5.
Only Tests with two completed innings included.
SDs: Series-defining performances

1. Inzamam-ul-Haq
The two hallmarks of Inzamam’s batting (beside his remarkable propensity to be involved in run-outs) were his ability to play under pressure and to be at his best when his team needed him the most. This is why he has the highest Pressure Impact (successfully absorbing the pressure of falling wickets) for Pakistan and the highest number of SDs (series-defining performances) in the history of Test cricket (along with Rahul Dravid). No Pakistani batsman influenced his country’s cricketing history more than Inzamam. In fact, he is the highest impact Asian Test batsman of all-time in (though Kumar Sangakkara is close at his heels).

His average of 50 in 119 Tests just about puts him in batting royalty.

2. Saeed Anwar
He just clears our 50-match cut-off but his impact is surprising, given that he is usually considered a superior ODI batsman. His Runs Tally Impact (proportion of runs scored in the context of every match) is higher than any Pakistani batsman in Test history. He also has the highest New Ball Impact (ability to see off the first new ball), which means he is Pakistan’s best-ever opening batsman. His average of 46 in 55 Tests provides a highly inadequate picture.

3. Javed Miandad
Interestingly, the most esteemed Pakistani batsman of all is in the top three of individual parameters on this list only once – series-defining performances (SDs) – his ability to play the big innings for his country. This also makes him the fourth highest Asian batsman in all of Test history – after Inzamam, Sangakkara and Anwar (Dravid comes immediately after Miandad).

Pakistan’s highest run-getter, his average of 53 in 124 Tests makes him the only one on this list for whom averages provide a reasonably accurate picture.

4. Younis Khan
He is an interesting batsman for his ability to absorb pressure (second-highest Pressure Impact on this list) while building partnerships (second-highest Partnership Building Impact) and playing big occasion innings (third-highest SDs). His consistency (low failure rate) is up there too. Also, he has the highest New Ball Impact among non-openers in Pakistani Test cricket, which underlines his value to his team.

An average of 51 in 91 Tests makes him an all-time great but his real qualities stay hidden perhaps unless examined more closely.

The two hallmarks of Inzamam-ul-Haq's batting were his ability to play under pressure and to be at his best when his team needed him the most. © Getty Images

The two hallmarks of Inzamam-ul-Haq's batting were his ability to play under pressure and to be at his best when his team needed him the most. © Getty Images

5. Mohammad Yousuf
He is the most consistent batsman on this list (a 38% failure rate is among the lowest in cricket history). However, he has only one SD – among the lowest in the world for batsmen in 50+ averages category. But then, he also has a high Pressure Impact (the ability to absorb the pressure of falling wickets), which suggests the opposite. And his Runs Tally Impact (proportion of runs scored in the context of each match played) is the third highest in Pakistan cricket history. A good example of how big match temperament can sometimes be different from the ability to absorb pressure.

His average of 52 in 90 Tests is not surprising for someone of his consistency but his relatively lower impact than the ones above him is, unless you consider his big match status.

6. Asif Iqbal
An interesting name here, in the context of who have not yet come. It is purely his two SDs that lift his relatively low Runs Tally Impact and high failure rate to this space. And his reasonably high Pressure Impact – neither of which is reflected in his conventional average of 39.

7. Ijaz Ahmed
He has an even higher failure rate than Asif Iqbal (in fact, the worst on this list) and only a marginally higher Runs Tally Impact. It is his two SDs that lift his value. Helping write your country’s cricketing history provides that fillip, despite having a batting average of 38.

Majid Khan, Mudassar Nazar and Saleem Malik also make it to this list, despite mediocre consistency, thanks to their SD.

Similarly, Hanif Mohammed, Mushtaq Mohammed and Zaheer Abbas do not make it to the list for the same reason. The last two have a mediocre Runs Tally Impact but an SD each, whereas Hanif has a high Runs Tally Impact (fifth highest in Pakistan cricket) but does not have a single SD – despite a truly classic back-to-the-wall triple-century in West Indies in 1958.

Highest Impact batsmen on individual batting parameters

Runs Tally – Saeed Anwar
New Ball – Saeed Anwar
Pressure – Inzamam-ul-Haq
Partnership building – Inzamam ul Haq
Strike Rate – Wasim Akram
Series Defining – Inzamam-ul-Haq
Most consistent – Mohammad Yousuf

Impact figures of batsmen who played less than 50 Tests

Azhar Ali (33 Tests, three SDs) and Misbah-ul-Haq (47 Tests, two SDs) have both absorbed the highest pressure (of falling wickets) in Pakistan if we relax the 50 Tests minimum limit to 30. Azhar Ali, in fact, is the highest impact Test batsman for Pakistan then – a magnificent tough runs batsman – his 39-run average completely camouflaging this. His very impressive 36% failure rate also reveals how performing consistently in low-scoring games can so easily be overlooked – the most interesting contemporary Pakistani batsman without doubt.

Shoaib Mohammad with two SDs in 44 Tests, Imran Farhat two in 40 tests, and Taufiq Umar, Aamer Sohail and Mohsin Khan with one SD each all registered high impact – despite their relatively high failure rates. Curiously, Sohail has the highest Strike Rate Impact in Pakistan cricket (a rare measure that activates when a batsman’s high strike rate in a match affects the game positively) if we relax the minimum 50 Tests limit.

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Highest Impact bowlers

Name Matches Bowling Impact SDs Top/Middle Order Wickets Tally Impact Lower Order Wickets Tally Impact Economy Impact Failure Rate (in %)
Imran Khan 85 3.4 5 2.07 0.26 0.18 21
Iqbal Qasim 50 2.74 3 1.79 0.16 0.26 38
Danish Kaneria 61 2.62 2 1.96 0.29 0.16 30
Wasim Akram 101 2.6 3 1.82 0.31 0.15 33
Waqar Younis 84 2.45 1 2.06 0.27 0.04 25
Abdul Qadir 67 2.44 3 1.65 0.24 0.08 45
Mushtaq Ahmed 51 2.33 1 1.93 0.18 0.14 37
Sarfraz Nawaz 54 2.17 2 1.58 0.23 0.17 41
Mushtaq Mohammad 56 0.88 1 0.51 0.18 0.01 66
Mudassar Nazar 75 0.55 0 0.53 0.03 0.01 71

Minimum Test matches: 50
All Impact numbers between 0 and 5
Only Tests with two completed innings included
SDs: Series-defining performances

1. Imran Khan
No one won more series for Pakistan with the ball than Imran, who is also among the five highest impact fast bowlers in Test history (with Dennis Lillee, Richard Hadlee, Dale Steyn and Malcolm Marshall). A lethal wicket-taker, pure and simple – 363 wickets at 23 apiece – that is the stuff of legend.

2. Iqbal Qasim
A surprising name at this slot perhaps, but a highly underrated bowler. Qasim had three SDs in just 50 Tests, a stunning fact for a bowler considered by many to be second best to Abdul Qadir. Interestingly, his conventional bowling average of 28 is better than Qadir’s by a distance, and is even superior to Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed’s. The main reason for this was his miserliness – he has the highest Economy Impact among Test bowlers from his country.

3. Danish Kaneria
With a bowling average of 35 in 61 Tests, he is often dismissed by many, but his 261 wickets are impossible to ignore. This is primarily why he has the third-highest Wickets Impact among Pakistani Test cricketers. His two SDs add to his credibility, and despite giving away runs, he was a valuable bowler. That he was the only consistent bowler and match-winner in the side for a while helps his Impact figures.

Along with a bowling average of 24 and strike rate of 55, one can’t challenge Wasim Akram’s place in fast bowling folklore. © Getty Images

Along with a bowling average of 24 and strike rate of 55, one can’t challenge Wasim Akram’s place in fast bowling folklore. © Getty Images

4. Wasim Akram
Regarded by many as the most skilled fast bowler for his variety, Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker in Tests produced the goods for his team in crunch matches (three SDs and three Series-Holding performances, second only to Imran). He rose to the occasion in matches of significance, giving him the maximum Big Match Bonus among all bowlers in the world. Akram also polished off the tail – he has the highest Lower-Order Wicket Impact. Consider this, along with his bowling average of 24 and strike rate of 55, and one can’t challenge Akram’s place in fast bowling folklore. He shared his impact with other great bowlers in a strong Pakistan side, which is why he is not higher on this list.

5. Waqar Younis
His conventional bowling statistics are staggering – an average of 24 and an exceptional strike rate of 43 (second-best after Steyn for a minimum of 200 wickets). Waqar was a wicket-taker and thus expectedly has an excellent Top-Order Wicket Impact (marginally second to Imran) and a low failure rate (a meagre 25%). He was right up there with Imran in managing to create pressure on the opposition batsmen. It is surprising that for a bowler of his ability and prowess, Waqar could only muster a solitary SD, which is why he isn’t higher on these charts.

6. Abdul Qadir
Qadir’s is a quintessential case of a bowler whose bowling average of 33 and strike rate of 72 does not do justice to the impact he had in winning important matches for his side – a fact so blatantly evident from his three SDs in 67 Tests. His career SD bonus (consistency of a player within a series where he got an SD) is second only to Imran, implying he performed consistently well in the series before producing the special performance.

7. Mushtaq Ahmed
Mushtaq had all the ingredients to be the greatest legspinner for Pakistan, registering handsomely on all individual bowling impact indices – Top/Middle-Order Wicket Impact, Pressure-Building Impact and Economy Impact, but he has only one SD in 51 Tests, and that’s what separates the good from the best.

8) Sarfraz Nawaz
The Sultan of Reverse Swing was known for his accuracy (reflected in his Economy Impact) and his ability to seam the ball in both directions. He gave two SDs in his 54 Tests – one away against Australia in 1976-77 and the other against England at home in 1983-84.

Mushtaq Mohammed and Mudassar Nazar being on this list suggests how many great bowlers Pakistan have had – perhaps why they have been such a good Test side.

Impact figures of bowlers who played less than 50 Tests

Among the high-impact bowlers who did not play 50 Tests are some big names such as (in order of Impact) Mohammad Asif, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Fazal Mahmood, Tauseef Ahmed, Saqlain Mushtaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Intikab Alam and Abdul Razzaq.

If we take 20 Test matches as the minimum, Mohammad Asif emerges as the highest impact Pakistani bowler of all time. Asif has three SDs in his 23 matches, which is the best SD/matches ratio for any Pakistani bowler. Even when it comes to individual parameters, he has the highest Wickets Tally Impact, third-highest Economy Impact for any pacer (after Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz) and the fifth-lowest failure rate.

Abdur Rehman’s is a story in progress but in the 22 Tests he has played, he emerges as the second-highest impact Pakistani bowler of all time (minimum: 20 matches). Interestingly, for most of his career he has played a support act to Saeed Ajmal, but Rehman has two SDs, one more than Ajmal. He also has the third-highest Economy Impact (after Qasim and Ajmal) and the lowest failure rate. Early days, but what a start.

Saeed Ajmal is the second-highest impact bowler for Pakistan (behind Imran) if we relax the minimum number of Tests to 30. His exceptional ability to take wickets, along with a high Economy Impact make him a potential great.

Fazal Mahmood’s lone SD went down in history as it came on Pakistan’s maiden tour of England in 1954. He was a lethal wicket-taker at his best but somewhat inconsistent: his failure rate of 40% is mediocre.

Saqlain Mushtaq has the highest Partnership-Breaking impact for Pakistan, but surprisingly does not have a single bowling SD in 49 Tests. He was very consistent though, with an impressively low failure rate of 29%.

Tauseef Ahmed makes it to the list because of his remarkable restrictive ability and his two bowling SDs in only 34 Test matches.

Shoaib Akhtar’s modus operandi was to intimidate the opposition with sheer pace, but he doesn’t stand out on any of the individual bowling parameters and finished with only one SD in his 46 Test matches, against New Zealand.

Highest Impact bowlers on individual bowling parameters

Top/Middle Order wickets – Imran Khan
Lower Order Wickets – Wasim Akram
Economy – Iqbal Qasim
Partnership-breaking – Danish Kaneria
Pressure building – Waqar Younis, Imran Khan
Series Defining – Imran Khan
Most consistent – Imran Khan

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Highest Impact Players

Name Mts Career Impact SDs Batting Impact Bowling Impact Failure Rate (%)
Imran Khan 85 4.34 5 1.05 3.4 13
Wasim Akram 101 3.97 7 0.92 2.6 22
Iqbal Qasim 50 3.03 3 0.24 2.74 32
Inzamam-ul-Haq 118 2.91 8 2.62 0 42
Mushtaq Ahmed 51 2.82 2 0.3 2.33 31

1. Imran Khan
His 67% failure rate in batting may belie his status as one of the greatest Test allrounders, but does not reflect his achievements in the last few years of his career when injury prevented him from bowling full throttle. He became an outstanding crisis batsman and absorbed considerable pressure, while maintaining a much lower failure rate. And there was his captaincy of course (measured on a match and series basis). His ridiculously low failure rate of 13% as a player remains a hallmark.

2. Wasim Akram
His brilliance as an allrounder comes shining through, as he adds four SDs to his three as a bowler. His 71% failure rate as a batsman did not do his talent justice but he played some stunning innings under pressure – quite often when he also bowled well – and interestingly has an SD solely because of his batting.

Qasim’s three SDs and Inzamam’s eight (he adds one more to his seven batting SDs with his captaincy) get them on this list.

Mushtaq Ahmed is the shocker here. In the bowling list, he is behind Kaneria, Waqar and Qadir, but on the players’ list, he is ahead of them all. His all-round SD against Zimbabwe away from home in 1998, when he put on 147 for the ninth wicket with Mohammed Wasim, in a match Pakistan won by three wickets, gets him on this list.

Mushtaq Mohammed is the most significant allrounder Pakistan produced after Imran – his two SDs further enhancing his status. Interestingly, in Pakistan’s first cricket family, both Mushtaq Mohammed and Shoaib Mohammed were higher impact players than the more reputed Hanif Mohammed.

High-impact players who played fewer matches

Ajmal and Azhar Ali as mentioned earlier have been high-impact performers for Pakistan. Ajmal also adds an all-round SD because of his batting contribution.

Tauseef Ahmed adds two all-round SDs to his two SDs as a bowler. If we relax the minimum Tests criteria to 30, Tauseef emerges as the fourth-highest impact Pakistani player of all time. His ratio of SDs/matches is the best for any Pakistani player in their Test history.

Highest impact captain – Imran Khan (less than 50 Tests – Misbah ul Haq)
Highest impact wicketkeeper – Kamran Akmal
Highest impact fielder – Majid Khan, Younis Khan
Most consistent player – Kamran Akmal (Non-wicketkeeper – Imran Khan)

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Highest impact Pakistani Test performances

We look at the highest impact Test performances in Pakistan’s history, both in a match and series context.

Highest impact batting performance (in a match context):

Inzamam-ul-Haq, 329 v New Zealand, Lahore, 2002; Batting Impact: 12.74
Inzamam’s colossal 329 gave Pakistan their largest win in Test cricket (the fifth-largest margin of victory in Test cricket history) as they defeated New Zealand by an innings and 324 runs in the first Test in Lahore in 2002. Inzamam came out to bat with Pakistan at 57 for 2 in the first innings and was the last batsman to be dismissed after his side amassed 643. He was involved in a double-century, a century and a near-century stand during the course of his innings. It was the sheer volume of runs (in proportion to the total runs scored in the match) that gave him a remarkably high Runs Tally Impact, which in turn accounted for his high batting impact.

Highest impact bowling performance (in a match context):

Abdul Qadir, 9-56 & 4-45 v England, Lahore, 1987; Bowling Impact: 10.39
Qadir’s SD in the first Test against Mike Gatting’s England stands not only as the highest impact bowling performance but also a high-impact all-round performance. Qadir’s 9 for 56 in 37 overs routed England for 175. He contributed 38 with the bat at No. 9 before again tormenting the England top order with his spin and guile in the second innings (4 for 45 off 36 overs) to help bowl out the visitors for 130, securing a victory of an innings and 87 runs. He not only picked up heaps of wickets in the match but also kept the English batsmen on a tight leash (Economy Impact).

Highest impact all-round performance (in a match context):

Qadir with a Match Impact of 12.29 against England in Lahore in 1987 (as discussed above) takes top honours here. Not too far behind at number two is Mushtaq Mohammed, whose all-round SD in Dunedin in the second Test against New Zealand in 1973 gave his side a thumping innings and 166 runs victory. Mushtaq Mohammed registered a magnificent double ton to help Pakistan amass 507 before he and Intikhab Alam bamboozled the hosts with their crafty legspin to skittle them out for 156 and 185. This was not only his highest impact batting performance but also his third-highest impact bowling performance in a match context.

Highest impact batting performance (in a series context)

Against Australia in Karachi in 1988, Javed Miandad walked into a pressure situation and stabilised the innings before scoring a double-century. © Getty Images

Against Australia in Karachi in 1988, Javed Miandad walked into a pressure situation and stabilised the innings before scoring a double-century. © Getty Images

Javed Miandad, 211 v Australia, Karachi, 1988; Batting Impact: 11.36
Pakistan, after opting to bat first, were jolted by the new ball spell of Bruce Reid, who scalped both the openers to leave them struggling at 21 for 2. Miandad walked into a pressure situation and stabilised the innings before scoring a double-century to take Pakistan to 469. The next highest scorers for Pakistan were Shoaib Mohammad (94) and Saleem Malik (45). Australia, in reply, collapsed in both innings to give Pakistan a win by an innings and 188 runs. The fact that Pakistan needed to bat only once to wrap up the game is what makes Miandad’s performance even more high impact. The two other games in the series were drawn.

Highest impact bowling performance (in a series context)

Fazal Mahmood, 6-53 & 6-46 v England, Kennington Oval, 1954; Bowling Impact: 8.94
Trailing 0-1 going into the fourth and final Test match of their first Test series in England, Fazal produced a legendary performance to take 12 wickets for 99 runs in 60 overs to level the series. Out of his 12 wickets, ten were of top/middle-order batsmen. He had an exceptional Economy Impact and the highest Pressure-Building Impact in the match.

Highest impact all-round performance (in a series context)

Wasim Akram, 0, 66 & 6-91, 0-5 v West Indies, Faisalabad, 1986; Match Impact: 11.64
West Indies, before this Test match, had lost only two games in their previous six and a half years, and never a series in that time. Pakistan, after electing to bat first, were blown away for 159. West Indies, in reply, were jolted by a 20-year-old Akram as he struck back with four top/middle-order and two lower-order wickets to restrict the lead to 89. Akram’s job though was far from done. Pakistan’s lead was only 135 after the fall of seven wickets when Akram joined Imran at the crease. Not only did Akram have a huge Pressure Impact (the highest such batting innings in Pakistan Test history) but he also managed to have a Strike Rate Impact (a rarity in Tests) in his innings. In their fourth innings, West Indies succumbed to their then lowest score of 53 chasing 240. The series was eventually drawn 1-1. Given West Indies’ aura of invincibility in this period, Akram produced a momentum-changing performance (one of the rare performances in Test history) primarily with his bat. Interestingly, his batting performance is also the fourth-highest impact batting performance in a Test series context by any Pakistani batsman.

Highest Pressure Impact performance

The highest Pressure Impact performance by any Pakistani batsman is Wasim Akram’s 66 against West Indies, but as that performance has already been covered, we have included the second-highest Pressure Impact performance here.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, 23 & 75 v New Zealand, Hamilton, 1993
Rashid Latif, 32 not out & 33 v New Zealand, Hamilton, 1993
In a low-scoring encounter in Hamilton, Inzamam first came in to bat at 45 for 4, scored 23 and got out at the score of 87. In the same innings, Rashid Latif came in to bat with Pakistan at 158 for 6 and scored 32 runs, most of it batting with the tail to take Pakistan to a total of 216. New Zealand, in reply, posted 264. In Pakistan’s second innings, Latif came in to bat with Pakistan reeling at 39 for 5, still trailing New Zealand by nine runs. Latif and Inzamam again started their rescue act, stitching together a partnership of 80 runs before Latif got out. Inzamam fell 39 runs later but by that time, they had given the Pakistani bowlers something to bowl at. New Zealand, chasing 127, collapsed for only 93 runs in their second innings to give Pakistan a memorable victory.

Highest Pressure-Building Impact performance

Fazal Mahmood, 6-34 & 7-80 v Australia, Karachi, 1956
The most interesting thing about Fazal’s performance in this match was the burst of wickets he took in a short period of time. In Australia’s first innings, he took out Jim Burke, Neil Harvey and Colin McDonald within a space of five runs to reduce Australia from 19 for 0 to 24 for 3. In his second burst, he took out Ian Craig, Keith Miller and Richie Benaud within a space of nine runs to decimate Australia further from 43 for 3 to 52 for 6. Australia eventually collapsed for 80. Pakistan, in reply, scored 199. In Australia’s second innings, Fazal again got rid of their top three and Australia were under severe pressure at 23 for 3. Khan Mohammad offered good support from the other end. In his final burst, Fazal took the wickets of Benaud, Ray Lindwall and Ian Johnson within two runs to end the Australian resistance and the match.

Intikhab Alam, 7-52 & 4-78 v New Zealand, Dunedin, 1973
After Pakistan’s massive total of 507 runs in the first innings, New Zealand in their reply were blown away by the legspin of Intikhab Alam. From 73 for 1, New Zealand collapsed to 116 for 8. Alam took seven consecutive wickets with New Zealand managing to score only 43 runs in this time. Of his seven wickets, six were of top/middle-order batsmen. Alam didn’t have any Pressure-Building Impact in the second innings as he didn’t take consecutive wickets in a quick interval.

NOTE: Sarfraz Nawaz’s legendary spell of 7 for 1, which reduced Australia from 305 for 3 to 310 all out just misses being on this list. Out of the seven wickets he took, three were of the lower order and therefore came with lower Pressure-Building Impact than the instances above.