Thursday, July 3, 2008

Younis Khan the Enigma

I'll be the first to admit that I'm also a culprit here.

The man fails and we ask for his neck to be chopped.

Then the man performs and wins matches for Pakistan and we're all dumbfounded.

Osman Samiuddin asks what makes Pakistan tick. In the same breath he says that just like Pakistan is moody, so is Younis Khan, and both in a way go hand in hand.

No one could have put it more aptly.

Again India the other night, it was the 3rd time in the last 6 months that Younis Khan scored a 100 and led a run chase of over 300. All of them against India.

He did it in Mohali, he did it in Dhaka, and now he did it in Karachi.

Despite this when he got 2 consecutive ducks last month, one without facing a ball, and one after facing a single ball, we all called for him to be dropped.

There is no doubt whatsoever about Younis Khan's presence in the test side. Along with Inzamam and Yousuf he has formed a formidable middle order and has been a consistent number 3 for Pakistan.

With an average just under 50 after 58 tests, and with 15 centuries, he is one of the best test batsmen Pakistan has had.

In ODIs though, he has been a different story.

An average of 33 in 170 odd ODIs with only 5 centuries does not do justice to a number 3.

He has failed Pakistan on numerous occasions in ODIs. Usually walking to the crease at the fall of an early wicket, he has more often than not fallen cheaply too.

At the same time though, each one of his 5 ODI centuries have come in Pakistan victories.

Apart from the 144 against Hong Kong the other 4 have been in successful run chases - the 3 against India and another one against England.

So then why do we always ask for him to be dropped?

Is it his tempremental attitude where even he does not understand what he wants?

If you go back to the Champions Trophy in late 2006 - Inzamam was banned for a few matches and Younis was asked to captain.

One moment he accepted, then he refused citing dumminess, and on the replacement of the Board Chaiman, he accepted again.

This happened again after last year's World Cup when Younis refused to take up the captaincy, but then filled in for Malik when he was injured in India, and then announced that he was willing to captain.

The man just can't make his mind up.

In the same manner he looks fresh and energized on the field one day and a lost soul on another. A Champion one day and an outright loser the other.

Even during the current 2007-08 season he has missed several matches citing "personal reasons".

One of those "personal reasons" was being upset at the PCB for not informing him about a question and answer sessions with ICC's anti corruption unit.

Despite that, Younis Khan has been Pakistan's best ODI batsman this season.

He has featured in ODI games in the series against South Africa, India, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh along with the Kitply Cup and the on going Asia Cup.

In 23 ODIs since October 2007, Younis Khan has scored 1,099 runs at an average of 49.95. He has knocked 3 centuries and 8 fifities during this period.

Thats 17 runs more than his career average and in these 23 matches he made more centuries than he did in his previous 150 odd ODIs.

I don't have the stats but I think thats more runs than any other Pakistan batsmen in ODIs during this period.

Maybe Salman Butt has more but despite that, Younis Khan has made me realise how ignorant I have been of his performance in the current season.

Since Inzamam's departure from the middle order, Younis has raised his hand and more often than not has made telling contributions.

In the on going Asia Cup he has scores of 67, 59, 47, and 123*. This following a match winning 108 against India the final of the Kitply Cup.

Even then we continue to demand his exclusion from the team. Why?

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