Younus Khan, the enduring and artistic hat lover
Inexperience doesn’t pay – but getting better sure does. The immaturity and inexperience would bring disgrace to any young team, but one dynamic leader in the middle-order could bring the ship to right direction. Younus Khan, the one mature enough in his prime form and who solidly worked on and off the field to make an impressive score in cricketing circles for Pakistan was also followed by the grand milestones.
“I am playing for the nation of Pakistan and it makes me feel so proud whenever I walk on the ground. I owe it to my coaches, family, and friends and above all my nation. The fans overall had been there for me – to back me every time when I had struggled during the years. I love challenges and would love to do so,” Younus once said.
We all have stories of our talent, in a brave attempt for perfection, leading to failure and rejection. We try to rectify the mistakes to make an impact. Doing the same in Pakistan, a young boy was aiming big to fill the boots of his heroes, whom he was imitating for hours in the nets, maybe over the wretched pathways too.
His eventual career would be celebrated with a showering of rose petals, sharing sweets at airport or home, but the single moment of lifting the T20 World Cup in England for his nation made it heavenly for Pakistan’s superstar Younus Khan.
The prolific Younus, who was once a night watchman at number seven, scored runs for fun these days. Younus recently played his last ODI – we won’t see him donning that colourful coveted jersey emboldened with the priceless star, which every Pakistani aims to wear, but he might sooner or later join the com-box, to continue to express his innate love for the game.
Undaunted, Younus learnt the art of resistance through his 15-year career filled with highs and lows. The talismanic batsman was very still at the crease and had all the shots in his book, after working hard honing his game. Technically sound and very comfortable against the spin- bowlers, he often toyed with the opposition.
With cricket love embedded into his DNA, Younus raised the bat high and admired fans with his imitable style. Younus’s childhood dream turned to reality. But there have been the inevitable ups and downs.
Younus was dropped in ODI cricket and didn’t emulate his Test success in the shorter format. He has scored 31 tons and 30 half centuries in 104 Tests, scoring 9,116 runs at an average of 53.94. In contrast, Younus scored seven centuries and 48 fifties in 265 ODIs, scoring 7249 runs at 31.25.
Younus, who loves to field with the white hat on and loved nothing more than playing long innings, was Pakistan’s fulcrum along with Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamamul Haq for what seemed an eternity. Younus has impressively evolved from number seven to number three to carve out a distinguished career.
From 2004 to 2008, he scored nine Test hundreds and then remarkably notched 21 tons in the next seven years.
Younus recently announced his retirement from ODIs before the first match against England in Abu Dhabi. Many plaudits have deservedly come Younus’s way. Lean and tall, but agile, Younus walked out quietly for the last time in ODI, wearing that trademark smile, and was warmly welcomed by the crowd when he came to bat. He was also given a guard of honour by his teammates. Though he struggled early on with his feet movement, Younus’s exquisite driving is a delight to watch.
Younus has proved critics wrong with his style of batting and continued to plunder runs. He’s almost impregnable in the UAE, which has helped Pakistan build a fortress there.
Revolts after revolts, when nothing was good in Pakistan, Younus stood tall and gave Pakistan some hope for a better future. He led Pakistan to a brilliant T20 World Cup victory shortly after the Lahore attack to become Pakistan’s second captain to win a World Cup after Imran Khan.
With great technique, an appetite for runs, skill and determination, Younus has that knack to dictate the bowlers. With his head steady, Younus has mastered defence and proved difficult to dislodge that only Kumar Sangakkara has a better average in the last decade.
When the 22-year-old walked out to debut in Tests against Sri Lanka in Pakistan, few would have imagined what would unfold over the next 15 years. He’s dominated everyone including averaging 76.80 in India and above 50 in England.
Younus has been an ideal batting partner, with 13 century partnerships with current Test captain Misbahul Haq and nine century partnership with stalwart Mohammad Yousuf.
Younus, who averages over 60 in fourth innings of Tests, knows how to cope when faced with adversity. Younus has impressively scored five tons in the fourth innings of Tests and six fifties.
Averaging over 50 against many nations away from home is a sign of a true champion, and Younus achieved that feat in grand style in Tests, although he could not replicate that success in ODIs. Younus’s 54.36 average is the highest by any Pakistani batsman confirming his greatness.
Younus has a phenomenal average of 75.4 in Tests won by Pakistan and 15 of his Test hundreds have come in winning causes. He became the first batsman from Pakistan to score a century against every Test-playing nation. He is among the 12 batsmen who have achieved this remarkable feat.
The 37-year-old artistic batsman reached the milestone in his 102nd Test against England in the UAE, surpassing the tally of 8,832 runs of his hero Javed Miandad.
Younus’s retirement might have disappointed many fans, but like his batting, he backed his instincts.
Younus will never be forgotten; we will always remember his effervescent smile, and of course, that classy footwork.
Younus Khan will always endure.