Stats story: Younis Khan among legends when it comes to batting in 4th innings

To say that Younis Khan is the Mr. Dependable of the Pakistan line-up is an understatement. His numbers in the fourth innings of a Test match bear testimony to the value he brings to the Pakistan line-up © Getty Images

 

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

Having suffered the ignominy of being bowled out for a 100 in the first innings, Pakistan did remarkably well to fight back in the second essay in the first Test against Sri Lanka. In turning conditions at Galle, the Sri Lankan bowlers rattled the Pakistan top order with testing deliveries.  Pakistan’s untiring No 3, a cut above his teammates, was the major catalyst of a Pakistani rearguard action – albeit in vain. Even with sufficient time in hand, a target of 510 was always too much, but it was Younis’s character and class that kept Pakistan alive.

 

To say that Younis is the Mr. Dependable of the Pakistan line-up is an understatement. His numbers in the fourth innings of a Test match bear testimony to the value he brings to the Pakistan line-up. Among batsmen who have batted over 20 times in the fourth innings, Younis average is the second highest – behind the legendary Sir Jack Hobbs.

 

A look at that list:

 

Player*

M

Inngs

Runs

Avg

50s

100s

Highest

Jack Hobbs

24

 22

  972

60.75

 6

  2

  126*

Younis Khan

30

 25

1015

59.70

 5

  4

  131*

Geoffrey Boycott

32

 31

1189

59.45

 7

  3

  128*

Sunil Gavaskar

34

 33

1398

58.25

 8

  4

  221

Graeme Smith

33

 32

1468

56.46

 9

  4

  154*

Ricky Ponting

49

 40

1424

54.76

 6

  4

  156

Gordon Greenidge

39

 36

1340

51.53

 6

  3

  214*

Javed Miandad

33

 20

  765

51.00

 5

  2

  103*

*qualification: over 20 innings

Younis’s fantastic average of 59.70 in the fourth innings is ahead of revered names like Sunil Gavaskar, Ricky Ponting, Gordon Greenidge, during his determined vigil at Galle, Younis became the first Pakistan batsman to score over 1000 runs in the fourth innings.

 

Interestingly, his average in the fourth innings is higher than his average in the other three innings.

 

Here are the relevant stats:

 

Ist innings

2nd innings

3rd innings

4th innings

Avg

   47.55

    59.12

    45.96

    59.70

 

The most striking feature of his knock at Galle was the way he tackled the Sri Lankan spinners. Rangana Herath and Suraj Randiv were getting the ball to turn and were bowling in the right channels. Younis used his feet to Herath to negate the lbw possibility. There were times when he would dance down the track to block deliveries. On the other hand, he was more natural against Randiv and wasn’t afraid to attempt the sweep. On a spinners’ paradise, it was a great exhibition of resilient batting and some of his teammates would do well to learn from it.

 

Highest average in victorious run-chases in the fourth innings

 

A successful run-chase in the fourth innings is a memorable occasion for any batsman who dreams of winning Test matches for his country. Sachin Tendulkar could rate his knock of 103 not out against England at Chennai as one of his best as India overhauled a formidable score on the final day. Test cricket is a true examination of a player’s quality and a challenging pursuit in the fourth innings is the pinnacle of that assessment.

 

Some players have acquired a reputation of being match savers; their efforts in the fourth innings bailing their sides out. Three off Younis’s four hundreds in the fourth innings rallied Pakistan to safety. With decent support from the other end and an achievable – albeit difficult – target ahead, some batsmen have shown the ability to anchor the run-chase and take the team through.

 

Some of the batsmen in the below table may not feature in table given above, but nevertheless have enviable numbers in victorious fourth innings causes.

 

Below is a list of batsmen with top fourth innings averages in efforts that helped their team to win:

 

Player

M

Inns

Runs

Avg

100s

50s

Highest

Greg Chappell

17

10

326

108.66

1

1

109*

Graham Thorpe

21

14

433

108.25

1

2

104*

David Boon

15

11

422

105.50

0

3

  94*

Graeme Smith

20

20

1085

  90.41

4

6

154*

Ricky Ponting

35

24

911

  82.81

3

4

143*

Alastair Cook

11

11

457

  76.16

1

2

109*

Geoffrey Boycott

12

11

366

  73.20

0

3

  80*

Sachin Tendulkar

23

18

653

  72.55

1

4

103*

Desmond Haynes

30

30

809

  67.41

1

4

112*

Qualification: 10 innings or more

 

A successful run-chase in the fourth innings isn’t a very frequent occurrence – which is why the qualification for the said table is a minimum of ten innings. Interestingly, VVS Laxman – the man who has scripted numerous wins for India – doesn’t feature as he has eight essays to his name, although he averages over 100. The records that catch the eye are that of Smith and Ponting. They have been absolutely sensational in victorious run-chases and their record reflects it. The sheer number of innings they have played and the consistency of their performance sets them apart. Tendulkar’s record has only improved after 2007 as his performances since then have been colossal. Smith, on the other hand, holds the record of scoring the most number of runs in a victorious run-chase in the fourth innings.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a club-level cricketer with an analytic mind and a sharp eye. It was this sharpness which spotted a wrong replay in IPL4 resulting in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. Some of his analytical pieces have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. Nishad can also be followed on Twitter)