“In my book Younis is the greatest Pakistan Test batsman ever. He has been a disciplined cricketer throughout his life which has enabled him to play for so long with dignity and honour.”
Former Pakistan Keeper Moin Khan on compatriot Younis
A century of Test matches is hard to come by, more so when you hail from a country where International Cricket has been off the radar for a fair bit of time. Younis Khan, Pakistan’s third-highest run-getter, and arguably the greatest Pakistani batsman to have graced test cricket, reached the coveted landmark of hundred matches during the ongoing second test vs Sri Lanka. Lauded by colleagues and competitors alike, Younis has achieved a feat that only 4 Pakistan players have till date. That is remarkable in itself. However, there are many other factors that make this milestone extremely special, and make the argument for Younis Khan as perhaps the best batsman to have represented the nation.
With a batting average of 53.41, which is the highest among all current and past players from Pakistan, Younis Khan is just 232 runs shy of Javed Miandad’s tally of most runs for Pakistan in Tests. That is a record that can be surmounted in the next couple of matches he plays, and then perhaps, his status as the greatest would be undisputed. Doubling the impact is the fact that he is the only player in history to have scored three consecutive fourth innings centuries – a statistic that adds to his credibility as a reliable middle-order batsman. But there is something beyond these statistics which makes this achievement sweeter.
Younis Khan has been able to overcome a tremendous number of obstacles, resulting from personal upheaval and professional idiosyncrasies alike. Younis stepped down from captaincy when there were match-fixing allegations during his reign, and although he was cleared in the investigation, he decided to resign for good. Just a few months afterwards, the Pakistan Cricket Board declared him guilty of infighting during the Australia Tour, and imposed a ban on him. The ban was uplifted, and all charges of wrongdoing cleared, but Younis was ignored for the upcoming Test series against England, much to everyone’s surprise. He made a remarkable comeback in Test cricket, though, when he anchored Pakistan’s second innings effort along with captain Misbah-ul-Haq, and his unbeaten knock of 131 enabled Pakistan to salvage a draw.
Besides the ups and downs in his cricketing career, he has also risen above personal tragedy to achieve what he has today. Over all these years, he has lost his father and dealt with the untimely passing away of four of his siblings. Last year, he lost his young nephew, and was forced to leave the ODI squad midway through a series. However, handling unpredictability and uncertainty with grace is one of the hallmarks of a great sportsperson, and Younis has done exceedingly well in this regard. Every time he found himself staring down the barrel, he came back even stronger, with renewed vigour, and it is this perseverance which keeps him going.
During times such as these when home test matches have become a rarity in Pakistan, and the cricketing landscape in the country has become so volatile, this milestone comes as a breath of fresh air for the Pakistan fans. It reinstates their belief in the team and the players, and gives them hope of a brighter future for Pakistan cricket. Even though Pakistan may go on to lose this test, Younis’ unique century acts as a silver lining amidst all the darker troubles that the team has faced. After all, it is the courage of players like Younis that reaffirms our faith in the gentleman’s game.