Younis Khan, possessor of mechanical-looking strokes, is an acquired taste © AFP (File Photo)
Younis Khan, possessor of mechanical-looking strokes, is an acquired taste © AFP (File Photo)

Younis Khan is on the brink of arriving at the milestone of 100 Tests when Pakistan take on Sri Lanka in the second Test in Colombo. The weight of his career numbers is proof of his value, but there is more to him, as Abhishek Mukherjee elaborates.

Pakistan’s seemingly perennial middle-order batsman Younis Khan will complete 100 Tests when he steps on to the P Sara Oval on Friday. As Pakistan have played fewer Tests than some other of the other teams, Younis has taken 15 years to reach the landmark. This means he has had to display a special quality that has helped him keep turning up and maintaining the highest levels of scoring. His speciality is represented by his run-getting: he has the most centuries for Pakistan (29), the most fourth-innings centuries (4), and has built a dependability that has become Pakistan’s habit. Sri Lanka need Kumar Sangakkara, Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath to fire against Pakistan

The characteristic that stands as the definition of his strength is his ability to perform under pressure. The numbers generated by him have allowed his team to benefit, but the reason that is there to be enjoyed is because of resilience that helped him insulate himself from the ups and downs of his country’s cricket in that time. Galle win an affirmation of a clear, evolved Pakistan

Like wine, he has got better with time. The latter phase of his career began with two fruitful series against India, in India in 2005 and at home in 2005-06. His 267 in Bangalore started under pressure — Pakistan were struggling at 7 for 2. In face of a heavy Indian onslaught led by Virender Sehwag’s double-century in India’s first innings, he helped his side clinch a 168-run win with a quick, unbeaten 84 in the second innings. The series, with this result, was drawn 1-1.

His century against Australia last year in the first innings in Dubai also took place under identical pressure, when Pakistan were 7 for 2. His century set the tone for the rest of the series as Pakistan demolished Australia in the two Tests in UAE. Lahiru Thirimanne yet to cement place in Test cricket as he looks to replace Mahela Jayawardene

In between, he kept churning runs. An average of 52.81 in the fourth innings, the fourth-highest in the world, shows a temperament to thrive in adversity. If not exercises in winning, his fourth-innings endeavours were those in safety, be it centuries at home against South Africa, or in Wellington against New Zealand, where he almost led his side to victory.

Therein lies his standout feature, beyond the sheer weight of runs. Younis Khan, possessor of mechanical-looking strokes, is an acquired taste. He doesn’t impress with attractive batting looks, or an ability to accelerate flashily like many of his counterparts. He has himself spoken in the media about his comfort in taking 15 to 20 overs to build his innings gradually. He is the embodiment of more important and deep-set qualities of situation-judgment and perseverance. Of maturity. Sarfraz Ahmed’s aggression catches Sri Lanka off guard

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @bhejafryyy)

ri Lanka need Kumar Sangakkara, Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath to fire against Pakistan