Younus Khan runs riot!
Younus Khan silenced all conjectures. The doubters have been taught the consequences of tickling Mardan’s sleeping dragon. He probably broke the record for breaking records in this two-match series. Stats have brought him head to head with some of the galactic greats of the game but the hero chooses to remain in the shadows of conflicting egos, serving our cause with what little is left in him. Younus is indeed an odd hero.
For a fan base that dwells on little moments of glory, the progress of his tons and Pakistan turning tables has been soporific to many. The exploits did not characterise the typical Afridi-esque flamboyance. They were rather meticulously crafted by Younus, who was provided cover fire on many occasions by Azhar Ali, Misbahul Haq, Asad Shafiq and Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Younus has never been a boastful anarchist. His methods have been less precarious and more pragmatic. He cajoled the Kangaroos with his amiable character. A smile here, a chuckle there and unknowingly one of the most formidable sides in the game was in tethers. He has dominated the contest so far with sheer tenacity. His heroics will be remembered for a period longer than the results of the second test and the series on whole will be.
Our bowling arsenal has been missing lethal hit men like Muhammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal, who over the years have ruthlessly gunned almost all sides in the game down. Novices in the international circuit like Yasir Shah, Rahat Ali, Imran Khan and Zulfiqar Babar had to fill their boots in and few believed they would be able to pull it off. Yasir and Zulfiqar’s unfamiliar combination was a glimmer of hope as their performance proved to be an ode to our magician Ajmal, who is itching to get back in the side.
Imran’s pace averages far below the standard Pakistan cricket boasts. But with the delivery that left Michael Clarke spellbound in the first innings of the ongoing match, Imran did full justice with his name. The performance was indeed aided by the opposition’s innocuous bowling attack and the moribund pitch. But the Australians were still not able to emulate the ‘flat-track bullying’ that Pakistan carried out with bat and ball both. Imran and Rahat worked wonders with the same track that clipped Mitchell Johnson’s and Peter Siddle’s fangs.
As I write these words, Pakistan leads by 370 runs and eight wickets in its second innings. The unflappable Younus and his apprentice Azhar are still batting Australia out.
No matter what the result comes out as, Pakistan deserves all the adulation. Amidst the test of time, Sarfaraz is on the verge of dethroning the Akmals from behind the stumps. Shafiq and Azhar are gaining momentum and well on their way to shoulder the responsibilities of our middle order for years to come. Pakistan continues to produce exuberant bowlers. Above all, Misbah looks happy. Our unsung hero is smiling even after Afridi bit into his wounds when a cricket ball wasn’t around.
The only concern at this point is the average age of our frontmen. At a time when the world is shunning conventional cricket, our boys proved that despite playing in exile, Pakistan cricket is still viable. They may be inconsistent with both winning and losing but they give us hope. As prudent as the statement can be, Pakistan, without doubt, completes world cricket.