Thursday will be the day which marks veteran batsman Younus Khan’s 100th Test match in Pakistan’s colours when the men in green take on Sri Lanka in the second Test in Colombo.
It will also set the pace for the visitors to claim their first series win over the Islanders since 2011-12 when the 1992 world champions triumphed 1-0 in UAE, while Pakistan last tasted a Test series success in Sri Lanka in 2005-06.
So it will be an important tie both from Younus’ and Pakistan’s point of view.
With history suggesting that Younus always performs better when the occasion is bigger, runs would certainly be expected from the 37-year-old.
The Mardan-born would become only the fifth player from the country to complete 100 Tests after Javed Miandad (124), Inzamamul Haq (119), Wasim Akram (104) and Saleem Malik (103).
Pakistan Test skipper Misbahul Haq hailed Younus’ contribution in the dressing room and termed the feat as a dream for any cricketer.
“Younus is the backbone and a very special member of the Pakistan team,” said Misbah. “Playing 100 Tests is a huge achievement for any cricketer. He brings a lot of value to the team and always carried a lot of positive energy. We all wish he can make his 100th Test memorable with a lot of runs and we want to honour him by winning the match.”
Younus (8,594 runs) sits at third place in the list of top run-getters for Pakistan in the longest format behind Miandad (8,832) and Inzamam (8,829).
Apart from Younus, players who will be in the spotlight will be game-changer Yasir Shah and the ever-reliable Sarfraz Ahmed.
Former leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, who is serving a lifetime ban for his hand in spot-fixing, feels that Sri Lanka will come out with a plan against Yasir.
“Yasir bowled brilliantly in the first Test but he will face resistance this time around as Sri Lanka would come out with a proper plan against him,” Kaneria told The Express Tribune. “They would have gone back and watched his videos so it won’t be easy to repeat the performance from the first Test. However, it’s really pleasing to see Yasir blossoming so quickly, especially in the absence of match-winner Saeed Ajmal. But having said that, he must keep himself focused and keep improving because there is plenty of room for that.”
Sohail returns to Pakistan after knee injury
All-rounder Haris Sohail is set to take a flight back to Pakistan after picking a tendon injury in his left knee during a fielding practice session on June 19 in Galle to undergo rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore.
Following Haris’ complaints on June 16 regarding his left knee, an acute reactive patellar tendinopathy was suspected and despite a couple of days rest, combined with treatment, his condition did not improve.
Subsequently an ultrasound scan performed at Nawaloka Hospital in Colombo indicated the possibility of a small tear.
As tendon injuries often take longer to heal than muscle injuries, there is a very little chance that he may be able to further participate in the ongoing Test rubber and his availability for the ODI series may also be questionable.
His replacement will be named in due course.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2015.