If you had the chance to pick only one gladiator to battle for you in the bull ring, you will have to pick him. If you had to name only one assassin to do the job for you and that too with a smile, you will pay for him. If you had to seek an epitome of fighting dignity -for yourself and your countrymen, you will analyze only his persona. If you had to teach sportsmanship to kids of a game called cricket and its tormented gentleman’s essence, you will request him to do it, because, for everything, there is Younis Khan.
He may not be the classic copy-book batsman out there or the most explosive of the belligerent hitters in the game, yet there is something uncanny about him that makes him a must in the present day cricket. Probably, it is the aura of calmness he oozes in nerve-wrecking scenarios and the warm feel that you get from watching him do his thing as if you are being given Vicks vapors. Perhaps, it is the controlled passion he displays with a pint of bravado in his glass that he has to offer to you. Probably, it is the fire he possesses in his belly, being the Pathan he is, which amazingly does not go untrammeled even in the grandest of hippodromes.
All his cricketing credentials aside, the man carries a million dollar smile which he entertains amidst every trauma he goes through and no matter how life pushes him to the corner. Be it a personal tragedy of losing his father in middle of a tour or the death of Bob Woolmer, who he deemed as his father figure and who used to call Younis his third son, that smile hardly broke; and even when he had been left all alone by his own team mates who conspired against him and when his own countrymen started labeling him as a confused individual just because he always wore his heart on his sleeve, the smile was still there. Though he did accept in middle of the mayhem happening all around him that he had to stop smiling yet it was always visible, even if it was a bit broken.
You can bet all your money that if it had been someone else but Younis Khan, all his principles and decorum would have fallen off and accepted defeat, compromised to bowing in front of his nincompoop masters and gotten back in the arena but not him. Through all this, he remained steady as a hawk and kept that chin up, and ultimately got back to do what he does best. For he is the man possessed, he is the one for the moment.
A modern day great?
Pundits will tell you his cricketing achievements have been understated, since his records and stats give enough evidence that he deserves to be enumerated as one of the current giants of the game. Take any format of the game and he is up there with the bests, be it in the stats or as a leader. Here, we try dissecting his career and ascertain his significance in the game.
Most definitely his greatest feat in cricket career would remain captaining Pakistan to the T20 World Cup win in England in the summer of 2009 when his boys roared as the famous cornered tigers. A triumph that had a stark similarity to the country’s other successful global prize campaign, the World Cup win of 1992, and one in which he gave the world the most famous quote of that format when he termed it as fun and associated it with WWE. At that conjuncture, he decided to hang his boots in that format so that new blood could be inducted. This was to be the threshold of his greatness which has always been coupled with absolute humility.
Statistical study of his career
10 years is a good enough period to scrutinize a cricketer’s career and his standing in the game. Younis Khan, to-date, has played 64 test matches, 207 One Day Internationals and 22 T20s. He has captained his national team in all three formats and won a world title in the T20 format from which he has gracefully retired.
Test Match Genius
We look into his test match credentials and try to figure why he should be acknowledged as a modern day champion in the most important version of the game.
- He is one of the top 10 current batsmen in the game who average 50 plus in test matches, and has an equally good home and away record.
- He is only one of the 4 current players in the game with a triple century to boast against his name.
- In test matches that Pakistan has won and drawn (39/64), he averages a whooping 66.12 with 13 of his 17 centuries coming in them. And that average increases to 68 in test matches that Pakistan has won.
- In his last 31 matches, he has averaged an amazing 65.47
- And here is the most significant stat. He is the modern day best when it matters the most, technically and impact-wise, in the 5 day contest; when it has counted the most, he has graced the occasion with his quality and brilliance. He has a stunning average of 62.0 in the 4th innings, which places him in the top 5 of all-time, with only Michael Hussey accompanying him in the top 10. That list has the present day giants such as Sachin Tendulkar at no. 52 (average of 38.77), Rahul Dravid at no. 35 (average of 42.78) and Mohammad Yousuf at no. 34 (average 43.00). Only Ricky Ponting and Graeme Smith average above 50 out of the current players.
In the same statistical analysis, he also has the most number of hundreds, i.e. 4 (matched by Ponting and Sarwan). Out of those 4 hundreds, 3 have resulted in saving the match for Pakistan, and what better than the latest titanic effort of his against the Proteas.
- Now let’s look at his numbers against the top 5 ranked teams in the world.
He averages 88.06 against India which places him 3rd in the game’s history with players scoring 1000 or above runs against them. Also, is no. 2 in all-time list of scoring maximum runs in a test match versus India.
Against South Africa his average is 52.57, versus Sri Lanka its 51.24, against England its 45.46 and its 31.83 against Australia. So barring Oz against whom he’s played only 6 tests (the lowest among his matches against these top 5), his stats are world class and comparable to any modern great.
A serious force in ODI business
He is one of the rare conventional batsmen in the modern game. For most of them, ODIs may not be the specialization anymore but for him it is a challenge he takes up and is as good as anyone when the chips are down and you need someone to lead you from the front.
- While chasing and Pakistan winning, he averages a brilliant 43.75. When Pakistan has won batting first, he averages 39.06. Both stats are a mile away from his career average of 32.48, and clearly show he is a major influence whenever Pakistan wins ODIs.
- All his 6 ODI hundreds have been match winners and include 3 modern one day cricket master classes while chasing, 2 against India (Mohali & Karachi) and one against England.
- When he has not compiled a century while chasing, he has come up with gems in low scoring games and been the man of the Match, such as the one against Australia in Melbourne, June 2002 and India in Abu Dhabi, April 2006. Then, his recent fabulous effort versus South Africa is a clear vindication of him being one of the best chasers in the game.
The Comeback King
If you have followed him in his career to any considerable extent, you would know he deserves this accolade as much as anyone else out there in the game. Here we look at 2 of the most memorable Younis Khan moments.
- Kitply Cup in Bangladesh (2008) – He had bagged consecutive ducks in the league games against India and Bangladesh and was under immense pressure either to perform or to give up his spot in the lineup, he came up with the goods in the big game, the final versus India, and was deservedly the Man of the Match.
- 1st Test match vs South Africa, Dubai 2010 – Being kept out of the test team for the last 16 months by the lunatic Ijaz Butt and putting up against the shoddy politics engulfing him, Younis showed the world what it was missing. A herculean 4th innings hundred against arguably the best test bowling attack of the world enabling Pakistan a draw against all odds. In context of the state of Pakistan cricket and his own personal traumatic experiences, it was surely the return of the king.
Cometh the hour, Cometh the man
Mohammad Younis Khan may not end up as neither your lifetime hero nor your stereotypical great cricketer but trust him to be your savior when you will turn your back to everyone you counted on because they just could not handle the pressure and wilted away. He will be the brave heart who is going to never compromise on his values and will put a fight for your freedom and your country at any price. He will remain the juggler amongst the clowns in the circus of world cricket. He will still be the working-class man who goes home every night smiling happily with his day’s work no matter what paltry wage he gets. He will be your punch bag absorbing your frustrations when you need to vent them out. He will be whatever you will crave for, because for everything, there is Younis Khan.
He will forever be the last man standing!
Younis Khan Zindabad!
Article by Masuud Qazi