It is a norm with Pakistan fans to call for a head or two of a player after a couple of failures. We have no patience at all with our cricketers. Or for that matter anyone from politicians to entertainers to sports players.
My recent twitter feed has been overflowing with people calling for Younis Khan to be axed from the ODI team. General discussions on online cricket forums and facebook are revolving around the same "drop Younis Khan" topic.
Is it really time for him to go?
With a test average of 52.44 and 20 centuries, Younis Khan is one of the best test cricketers of his time. One of the all time Pakistani greats, and arguably the best test number 3 our country has produced.
But when you look at his ODI record, it leaves a lot to be desired. An average of 32.33 and only 6 hundreds is not a record of a good ODI batsman who has batted at number 3 for most, if not all, of his ODI career.
Typically, any ODI team's top 3 batsmen are the ones that are expected to play long innings and make big hundreds. On that front, Younis Khan has failed more often than not.
I believe that the difference of 20 runs between his test and ODI average is probably one of the biggest difference between averages across formats for batsmen.
Besides this below par overall ODI record, Younis has had a lean patch of late as well, which has also led to increased calls for his axing from the shorter version of the game.
He scored his last ODI century almost 4 years ago in an ODI against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi. His last 15 ODI innings have produced only two scores above 50, which includes one against Afghanistan - that 70* is also his highest score in his last 15 ODIs.
Does Younis Khan deserve a place in Pakistan's ODI XI with players like Asad Shafiq (sitting on the bench), Azhar Ali (cementing his position in the ODI squad) and Nasir Jamshed (who will eventually return from injury) having built strong cases for a place in the team?
When Jamshed returns from injury, he will in all likelihood slot back into the opening position with Hafeez. Plus it will be difficult to drop Azhar Ali after his innings of 96 against Sri Lanka and his overall impressive start in ODIs (averaging almost 40 in his first 6 innings with two fifties).
Then, it would be difficult to keep Younis Khan in the team. Definitely more difficult than it is now, as Asad Shafiq, who is the potential replacement if Younis is axed right now, doesn't have a much better ODI record (averages under 30 in 29 ODIs) than Younis himself.
The calls to include Shafiq might be justified given that he is a promising cricketer and has a potentially bright future, but he is not as solid as Azhar Ali is, nor as flamboyant as Umar Akmal. His inclusion in the team will make the batting line up even more weaker than it is now I feel.
Just a few days ago I thought that Younis Khan still had it in him to continue in ODIs, but after giving it some thought and considering his value to the test team, I believe it is time for him to move on. It may even prolong his test career, which will truly benefit Pakistan.
Plus it is also better for Pakistan to transition now with him retiring from ODIs while Misbah carries on for some more time, instead of both the seniors exiting the format at the same time leaving a gaping hole in the middle order.
I hope the team management / selectors are also thinking on the same lines and someone is having this discussion with Younis.
He deserves a fitting finale and farewell, and not an axe similar to what majority of Pakistan's retired cricketers got in their careers.
This ODI series against Sri Lanka should be his last I think.
Do it Younis, do it before they axe you!