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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Younis Khan, a man of courage

Younis Khan made a Test century in his debut, though his appearance on the cricketing scene wasn’t very appreciated by the fans of Pakistan cricket. Concurrently, he made a fighting 46 runs in his debut One-Day international innings, when his team was in a tough situation, though couldn’t stop his side from losing. One thing was certain about him though, the man had the mental strength and courage to take on the best.
In the start of his career, Younis had flaws in his technique and there was a carelessness about his approach towards batting as he used to ‘gift’ his wicket by playing reckless shots. Adding to this, he was vulnerable against both conventional and reverse swing as he used to play away from his body and his bottom hand seemed to carry his drives, which is by far an unorthodox way of playing a drive, not only on the low and slow tracks of the Subcontinent, but everywhere else in the world.
The 33-year old had a remarkable start to his Test career as he registered a century in his first Test match, in what was a sparkling start to a shaky career. Apparently, his inaugural hundred was backed up by a string of modest scores as he averaged 21 in his first 12 innings.
The Mardan born cricketer was a heavyweight at the domestic level as he scored heavily in friendly conditions. His purple patch in first-class cricket was acknowledged by the selectors, though they didn’t overlook him and, resultantly, they provided him with continuous chances.
Nevertheless, he was a man on a mission and greater achievements were about to come. In the process, he refined his technique and added flow to his batting, producing a succession of centuries in away matches. In doing so, he registered hundreds in unknown conditions like, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Bangladesh, as he silenced his critics around the globe. More importantly, he looked settle, batting at a coveted number three position, though his erratic form continued as he followed his tons with a string of single-figure returns.
Nonetheless, in the summer of 2005, Khan met his soon to be favourite opposing side, India. At the time he faced India, his average in Test cricket was 39 in 32 outings. Younis started the tour poorly as he bagged 10 runs in the first Test at Mohali, and as a result, faced severe criticism from the management and disapproval from ex-cricketers. It was a do or die situation for Younis in the second Test match as he was about to be axed from the team, following his poor display in Mohali.  
In addition, the Eden Gardens Stadium in Kolkata was filled with expectations as Younis Khan arrived at the crease with his team in need of a hero. And Khan delivered. Respectively, he scored 147 runs in order to put his team in a comfortable position. Khan’s scintillating display with the bat was not enough for Pakistan to avoid a massive 195-run defeat, however, in the process, the right-hand batsman marked the first signs of batting brilliance.    
Pakistan was trailing by a margin of 1-0, going into the third and deciding Test of the series at Bangalore. The start to the final Test was imperfect as Pakistan lost their first two wickets for a grim score of 7 runs. The master batsman responded to Pakistan’s arch-rivals with one of the greatest innings ever played in India, amassing 267 runs to power his team to a mammoth 570-run first innings total. The second time around, it proved enough for his team to register a series-levelling win, trouncing India by a massive 195 runs.
Since then, Younis has never looked back as he has been the best number three batsmen to play for Pakistan. Adding to his numbers, the master craftsman is one of the three Pakistani batsmen to have an average of over 50 in Test cricket. Evidently, his 17 centuries in 64 Test matches are significant proof of his productivity as a top-notch willower.
Besides his batting achievements, in England in 2009, he became the country’s second captain to lift a World Cup, when Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka in the final of the ICC World T20 to record their first ever title in T20. With these achievements, it seems Younis will remain one of Pakistan's favourite sons.  
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