© Getty Images
Younis Khan accumulated 119-runs batting with the tail © Getty Images

Already being 2-1 down in the series, Pakistan needed a whirlwind of a performance to level the series against England. The fourth and final Test at The Oval was England’s chance to attain Test supremacy but Pakistan has other plans in store. The Oval has always been the visitors favourite ground in the British Isle, having notched up 4 victories including their first ever win in England in 1954, thanks to Fazal Mahmood’s heroics. Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan in particular were already under the pump , and were expected to relight their form with the bat. It was the perfect time and occasion for Younis to stamp his authority against a rampaging English attack, and teach the world the art of batting against the tail. Full Cricket Scorecard, England  vs  Pakistan , 4th Test match

August 11, 2016, witnessed Pakistan and England clash against each other for one last final time this summer in the longest format of the game. Alastair Cook, winning the toss shockingly elected to bat first on a greenish looking track at The Oval. Stuttering at 110 for 5, England were again rescued by their most under-rated batsmen Moeen Ali, whose third Test ton helped them get up a respectable 328 on the board. Pakistan in reply were 127 for 3 with an quaking Younis out in the middle with youngster Asad Shafiq. It was high time for Younis to prove his mettle with the bat on this tour, like he has over the 16 years for Pakistan.

Younis started his innings looking as nervous as anyone. Asad and Younis showcased their brilliance with the bat once together against South Africa in 2013, with both batsmen getting their hundreds (both made 111). So, there was trust and understanding between the two batsmen. Younis being the senior pro, entrusted Asad with the responsibility of scoring quickly, knowing he was in good knick.

38-year-old Younis did not hesitate one bit in responding to quick singles from Asad, in their 150-run stand for the fourth wicket. Younis slowly growing in confidence started using his bat to good effect, and after a long time displayed precise footwork against Moeen Ali. Younis showed why he is one of the best batsmen, smashing Moeen for six after six.  Pakistan script historic win against England; level series at The Oval

Younis started to outscore Asad in the partnership by the end, making 75 runs out the 150-runs the pair added. Asad moved on to his century and was greeted by Younis with a hug, which was synonymous of the fact that he had passed on the batting baton. Soon after Asad departed and Misbah too went early, leaving only Sarfraz Ahmed and the tail to follow. Younis soon turned into this beast of a batsmen and inflicted mayhem over the England bowlers. Sarfraz who has had a history of temperamental issues with his batting, had the perfect foil in Younis to guide him though.

Younis played the calming effect in the stand between himself and Sarfraz. The 77-run partnership saw Sarfraz outscore Younis, which was obvious but what was interesting to see, was how Younis kept on talking to the young lad, who had problems against James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the past. Younis did not show any signs of tiredness as he picked up instant singles alongside a quick Sarfraz. Sarfraz fell with Pakistan leading England by just 68 runs, which was too little.

With only a slender lead of 68 runs Younis proved his worth, which were nothing less than gold bricks. Wahab Riaz came in No. 8, and had the best seat in the house to specter at Younis’s surge. Younis ensured that Wahab was kept off strike from the likes of Broad, Finn and Anderson. In the 69-ball partnership Wahab batted for 32 deliveries but had the confidence instilled in him by Younis. Younis took charge and went hammer and tong over his favourite bunny Moeen again. With runs flowing from one end, Wahab was able to concentrate on his batting, and not worry about runs. Wahab’s knock came to an end after Moeen nabbed him on 4.

In came Mohammad Aamer, whose previous best of 30 came 6 years back against Australia in Hobart. Aamer did show some glimpse of his smash, bang hitting in the Old Trafford Test, where he outscored Younis in both innings. This would have only given Younis confidence, but with a impending double ton in sight, it would have given him butterflies in the stomach. 40 runs away from his  sixth Test double, Younis would have sighed relief seeing Cook bring on Joe Root to bowl. With no Broad and Anderson to worry about, Younis saw hope in Aamer’s batting and showed his trust in him. Younis, did not for once stall in giving Aamer strike, which made him more responsible in the course of the partnership.  Time for Younis Khan to rise for one final time in England

With Pakistan safe in the match, leading by 139 runs, Younis decided to finally let his emotions loose and powered his way to a double ton in emphatic style, hitting Moeen for a massive six over long on. Younis in a bid to accomplish quick runs fell for 218 runs — which was alone higher than India’s second innings total against West Indies. Younis had played his part with the bat and now it was time for Pakistan’s bowlers to ensure that his hard work doesn’t not go to waste, and it definitely did not.

Yasir Shah demolished England’s much talked about batting line-up, and tamed a team, who everyone call as home bullies. Yasir’s 5-for guaranteed that Pakistan win at The Oval again, and celebrate a momentous Test on the day of their 69th Independence Day, August 14th against the very people who colonised them for ages.

In an era where batting with the tail is diminishing as art, it is highly important that players like Younis imbibe the knowledge to upcoming batsmen and keep his beautiful passage of play relevant.

Younis is clearly in the league of batsmen, who has mastered this art, alongside the likes of VVS Laxman, who is regarded as one of the best exponents of this art, having as many as 10 fifty-run stand with Nos. 9, 10 and 11. Also in this esteemed list is a batsmen, who was an atlas in batting with tail, Allan Border. Border carried Australian cricket on his sturdy shoulders and shaped the Baggy Greens into jaw-dropping force in international cricket. Batsmen like Younis, Laxman and Border have spurred on their immense creative fancy while accompanying lesser men, have time and again managed to excel in the culminating stages of cricket game, are treasure-troves of exquisite riches.

(Vishal Mehra is a reporter at CricketCountry, who enjoys his weekly dose of anime, and plays cricket once a white moon. His twitter handle is @capturethecatch )