So the Pakistan vs England test series has finally witnessed a century, and it had to come from one of the most reliable batsmen out there - Younis Khan.
I had been waiting for a Younis Khan century throughout the series and he finally did it today. The most satisfying bit for me about this century was that I called it yesterday and I was there at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium to witness it.
What a knock Younis played.
He and Azhar Ali have all but batted England out of the game. I reckon the 180 lead that Pakistan have right now is more than enough to give Pakistan the whitewash that they have been dreaming of.
Think about it. Out of the 5 England innings so far in this series, they have crossed 200 only once. And I doubt they will do it again.
Now to the intriguing bit - why I called a Younis Khan century yesterday.
Simply because I don't remember a test series that Pakistan has played that has not involved a Younis Khan performance. More specifically, a Younis Khan match winning or match saving century. And there was no reason why this series against England should be any different.
I can't believe that before this test there were some calls for Younis Khan to be dropped. Seriously? How weak is the typical Pakistan cricket fan's memory? Anyone with a sane mind would not call for Younis Khan to be dropped from the Pakistan team.
Take a look at what he has done in tests for Pakistan over the last five to six years.
I could go all the way back to the start of his career when Younis Khan cracked a debut test century against Sri Lanka, but I stopped at England's tour of Pakistan at the end of 2005. This "home" series against England kind of brings the whole analysis full circle and also puts things in perspective with regards to the last time Younis failed in a test series.
That series against England in 2005 was the last time that Younis Khan played a test series in which he did not have a 50 plus score.
In a total of 16 test series including the one against England in 2005 and the current one, Younis Khan has played 39 test matches, scored 3,691 runs at an average of 61.37, and has scored 11 centuries. And he hasn't finished yet as he is still unbeaten on 115.
To put these numbers into perspective, here is a comparison of Younis Khan's performance during this period (end 2005 to date) with those of the commonly known batting greats.
He hasn't played as much as Sachin, Kallis, Dravid, or Ponting but he is right at the top of the pile in terms of batting average for tests played since November 2005.
Imagine what his numbers would look like if Pakistan played as much test cricket as India, Australia, and South Africa. Or if he wasn't out of the team for almost 18 months due to an ego clash with Ijaz Butt.
It is no surprise to me then that Michael Atherton said what he did after the end of play today: "He (Younis) is one of the giants of the game. You talk about Sachin, Ponting, Kallis & Dravid. He (Younis) averages over 50 with a Triple 100 & couple of double 100's, He is right up there with them"
Well he is really right up there above them!
It is unfortunate really that in a test career spanning 12 years, Younis Khan has played only 76 test matches. If you take a look at where these batting greats stood at after their first 76 test matches, the statistics paint a startling picture.
Now can anyone say that Younis Khan is not one of the best batsmen out there?
At this stage of his career, no one besides Rahul Dravid had more runs than Younis Khan did. There is a big difference between the averages of Younis and the rest, however after 76 tests Ponting had the same number of test centuries as Younis does now, with only Sachin ahead of the pack.
It is a great tragedy of the game that we would never know what Younis Khan could have achieved had he played as much as Sachin, Dravid, Ponting, and Kallis have.
Yet, we still salute the true King Khan - Younis Khan!