Younis Khan : A man of all season

Younis Khan  Javed Miandad  Inzamam ul Haq  Wasim Akram  Pakistan  former pakistan skipper  pakistan senior batsman  cricket news

There are many types of great players. Some have a lot of hype around their achievements and there is a touch of glamour about them. Then there are others who go about their task with quiet efficiency with the hyperbole kept to a minimum. But their contributions are no less significant. Younis Khan belongs to this category. He does not hog the headlines in the manner that the more glamorous players do and his exploits are not of the page three category. He is a cricketer first, last and always, a batsman to be precise. But what a batsman he has been for Pakistan for the last 15 years! Simply put he is one of Pakistan’s modern greats, a bulwark in the middle order. There are many aspects of Younis’ batting that have to be admired. He has an impeccable technique, an insatiable appetite for runs and the happy knack of coming good in a crisis. He can play according to the needs of his team which means he can attack when quick runs are needed and can defend resolutely in a rear guard action. The cricketing world has appreciated the manifold qualities of Younis’ batting ever since he made his international debut in 2000 and even today in his 38th year there are no signs of him calling it a day. In fact like good wine he is getting better with age the ultimate proof being his steering Pakistan to their highest ever chase in Test cricket against Sri Lanka last month. A target of 377 can be pretty daunting and in fact only five other bigger totals have been notched up in victorious fourth innings chases. With an unbeaten 171 Younis was in the forefront while scripting one of Pakistan’s most notable and certainly unexpected triumphs. But then this is nothing new for Younis who has been Pakistan’s man for the crisis for years. As he once said famously after one of his match winning knocks "I have never played with fear; pressure does not affect me." And notching up tall scores is second nature to him. A triple hundred, four double hundreds, a hundred in each innings, a century on Test debut, 30 three figure knocks in all mark Younis as the man his teammates and countrymen look up to for great deeds.


And during the series in Sri Lanka he became only the fifth Pakistan cricketer to appear in 100 Tests following in the footsteps of Javed Miandad, Inzamam ul Haq, Wasim Akram and Salim Malik. A tally of 8814 runs at an average of 54 is final confirmation of his exalted status in Pakistan’s cricketing hierarchy. It is only a matter of time before he goes past Miandad’s tally of 8832 runs and become his country’s highest run getter in Tests. Even in a lustrous middle order Younis is one of the prime contenders for a spot in an all time greatest Pakistan XI. For Younis aesthetics are kept to a minimum. It is not that his batting is not for the connoisseur but he prefers to bat in a commanding manner where in he lords over the bowlers. Pathans are generally known to be fearless and Younis fits the description. He doesn’t dawdle at the crease, but puts the bowlers to the sword. He makes things happen even in the laid back atmosphere of Test cricket and when he counter-attacks he does so furiously. Driving, cutting, hooking or pulling, there is a flamboyant full blooded touch about his batting. He has a particularly fine record against India and his partnerships with the other Y –Mohammed Yusuf – are legendary. While Younis is best known for his achievements in Test cricket he has been a tower of strength to Pakistan ODIs too. After all the really great batsmen have the ability to adapt and as the figures against his name illustrate – 7240 runs, an average of 31 with seven hundreds and 48 fifties and a highest score of 144 – he has been an important member of the squad in limited overs cricket. As captain he has enjoyed his moments of success most notably the world Twenty20 title in England in 2009. But like many Pakistan captains before him inability to control in fighting within the team and display tact with the PCB led to him losing the captaincy. As far as fielding is concerned Younis stands out in a generally sub standard side. His slip catching is faultless and the fact that he is the only Pakistan cricketer with over 100 catches in Tests is the ultimate proof of his class, skill and anticipation.



Miandad rates this as Younis’ best knock and not without good reason."He and his team were under a lot of pressure after SriLanka scored 644 but the way he batted was really commendable," said Miandad. It could not have been easy to score runs so effortlessly against the double spin menace of Muralitharan and Mendis and it would have been the figures against both the spin bowlers that would have given Younis most satisfaction. Murali returned figures of one for 172 from 65 overs and for the man hailed as a mystery bowler there was certainly no confusion in Younis’ mind and the result was that Mendis finished with the unenviable figures of one for 157 from 59 overs. The facts and figures associated with Younis’ monumental masterpiece are truly of the eye rubbing and mind boggling variety. In reply to Sri Lanka’s 644 for seven declared, Pakistan had lost their first wicket at 44 when Younis walked out. It was only a few minutes before stumps but it never occurred to the captain to send out a night watchman. Over the next three days he batted in such a commanding manner that for the first time in Test cricket a total of 600 plus was topped by a total of 700 plus. The stats associated with his innings are mind boggling – 768 minutes, 569 balls, 27 fours and four sixes. He was the third Pakistan batsman to get a triple hundred after Hanif Mohammed (337) and Inzamam ul Haq (329) and the sixth captain to reach the mark.


Pakistan faced a difficult task in their bid to square the three-match series after losing the second Test to a confident home team. This feeling gained momentum when on winning the toss Pakistan were seven for two by the third over. Younis who had entered with the score reading four for one in the second over along with his skipper Inzamam now proceeded over the next six hours to build the third highest stand conceded by India. Seven for two became 331 for two before Inzamam was out but Younis surged on to 267, his own first class best score and the highest Test score by any batsman visiting India. Younis batted for eleven and a half hours facing 504 balls and hitting 32 fours and a six. He was ninth out at 569 in the 168th over in the process leading Pakistan to their highest total in India (570). For good measure he added a quick unbeaten 84 in the second innings as Pakistan pressed for a declaration on the fourth evening. Taking a cue from Younis’ heroics the bowlers shot out India on the final day to complete a 168- run win for Pakistan.


Pakistan came into this two-match series having won the first Test. Winning the toss Pakistan were 96 for two when Younis walked in jauntily in the 35th over. First, he put the innings firmly on the right path when with Azhar Ali (109) he shared a third wicket partnership of 236. This was followed by a fourth wicket partnership of 181 with skipper Misbahul Haq (101). Finally Younis was fifth out at 537 in the 156th over. The full strength Aussie bowling line-up of Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon held no terrors for him. Younis batted for 8-1/2hours, faced 349 balls and hit 15 fours and two sixes. It was a true masterclass by the master batsman and paved the way for Pakistan making a clean sweep of the series with a 356-run win with the bowlers carrying on the good work started byYounis who also chipped in with a valuable 46, the second time around. But of course this was overshadowed by Misbah’s feat of equaling the record of the fastest hundred in Test cricket (56 balls).


Pakistan came into the final game of the three-Test series having won the first two but hopes of a clean sweep evaporated when they were bowled out for 99 on winning the toss. On a wicket aiding spin, England obtained what under the circumstances was a sizeable first innings lead of 42. They seemed on course for a consolation win when Pakistan were 28 for two the second time around. But then there was crisis man Younis Khan to combat and Pakistan’s fortunes took an upturn. Younis and Azhar Ali (157) shared a third wicket stand of 216 with the former being very much the dominant partner. Younis scored his 20th Test hundred and soon the hunter became the hunted. For five hours he defied the varied attack of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann on a bowler friendly track and hitting12 fours and a six. He had come in at the end of the tenth over with his side in deep trouble and by the time he left at the end of the 92nd over he had seen Pakistan in a position to call the shots. A second innings total of 365 provided the springboard for a 71 run victory and a clean sweep for the first time over England, a result that seemed hardly likely after Pakistan’s first innings.


Even in a career studded with batting delights this feat of Younis Khan stands out. It helped script a 221-run victory over formidable opposition and in the process set up any number of records. Once again he walked in a crisis. Pakistan winning the toss were seven for two in the fourth over. Steadily but surely he put the innings back on track before being fourth out at 198. He batted for 312 minutes, faced 223 balls and hit ten fours and a six. The other batsmen inspired by the senior man’s professional and disciplined approach steered Pakistan to 454. Obtaining a lead of 151 Pakistan’s aim was quick runs towards a timely declaration and again Younis was their man. By the fourth evening thanks to his belligerent unbeaten second hundred of the match which this time came in 220 minutes off 152 balls with six fours and two sixes –further proof that he could bat according to the needs of his side - Pakistan were able to declare giving their bowlers more than enough time to bowl Australia out which they did with time to spare. Younis’ twin hundreds took him past Inzamam (25) as their leading century maker. He became the seventh Pakistani to get a hundred in each innings and the first from any country to do so against Australia in 40 years. For good measure he also became the first Pakistani to reach three figures against all nine Test playing nations.

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