Younis Khan deserves a place among the very best in modern cricket

Younis Khan (above) has played 76 Tests. If you compare the figures of some of the modern greats at exactly this stage, only Sachin Tendulkar had more hundreds than Younis and Dravid more runs © Getty Images

 

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure – Peter Marshall

 

Great players often create their niche with performances that defy the odds. And sports history is replete with examples of jaw-dropping performances that have come in the face of adversity, when doubting Thomases have been sceptical about their success.

 

Cricket is a very unique sport as far as pressure is concerned. A player may feel the heat due to the team’s plight or because his own position in the unit is under threat. There are times when the player has to tackle both the situations at the same time and script a masterpiece as a fitting riposte of a champion. During the course of the last few months, we have witnessed players who have given vivid proof of the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” These men let their bat do the talking while the world lampooned them and their waning abilities.

 

Rahul Dravid, the wall of the Indian batting line-up, may have gone through an indifferent patch in Australia, but his sublime touch throughout 2011 affirmed his class. In the year 2010, Dravid went through a tough phase as the big runs were hard to come by and he struggled to replicate his original form. There were the odd hundreds, but his consistency level had dropped alarmingly. However, all that changed in the West Indies in June 2011 as he scored a match winning-hundred at Jamaica – a point from where his form took off. In England, he was the only Indian batsman who stood tall even as his colleagues floundered to tackle the questions posed by the English bowlers. This rich vein of form continued into the home series against West Indies.

 

Ricky Ponting’s difficult time in South Africa and during the home series against New Zealand had the critics baying for his blood. His demotion in the batting order during the Sri Lanka tour was considered as a serious blow and a sign that the Australian team was ready to move on. Going into the series against India, Ponting had his work cut out as only runs mattered. He made a fantastic recovery and how – two crucial fifties at Melbourne, a brilliant century and a double – thereby playing a crucial role in a 4-0 series win.

 

Ponting’s compatriot Michael Hussey was in an identical situation as two poor series threatened his career. Along with Ponting, his spot in the Australian line-up was under threat, but the selectors chose to persist with him and allowed him another chance to shine. Hussey may not have played a Ponting-like role in the 4-0 whitewash, but his contributions set the tone for the series. His 89 in the first Test at Melbourne stretched the Australian challenge and set up a good target for India. The hundred at Sydney helped Australia to a position of unmatched strength and complemented the hard work of Michael Clarke and Ponting.

 

While Ponting and Hussey emerged triumphant against India, Younis Khan went into the Test series against England with people questioning his position. It was inexplicable as Younis has been a consistent performer for Pakistan for years and had entered the series against England on the back of good outings against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. His hundred in the final Test of the series not only shut the critics but also set the platform for a memorable sweep of the series.

 

Ponting, Hussey, Dravid and Younis have been amongst the top 20 run getters in Test victories since the year 2000. Here are the stats:

 

 

Player

T

Runs

Avg

100s

50s

Highest

Ricky Ponting

86

7852

63.83

27

35

257

Rahul Dravid

49

4665

70.68

15

19

270

Michael Hussey

43

3624

61.42

11

18

182

Younis Khan

30

2879

68.54

9

12

267

 

The Younis phenomenon

 

Younis has played 76 Tests and a comparison with several modern greats at the same point in their respective careers reveals an interesting tale. He may not be spoken of in the same breath as someone like a Sachin Tendulkar, a Dravid or a Brian Lara, but his stats are right up there with them.

 

A look at the stats of some of the modern great after 76 Tests:

 

Player

M

Runs

Avg

100s

50s

Highest

Rahul Dravid

76

6552

56.97

16

32

233

Younis Khan

76

6398

52.44

20

25

313

Kumar Sangakkara

76

6356

54.79

17

26

287

Brian Lara

76

6225

48.25

15

30

375

Sachin Tendulkar

76

6036

55.37

22

24

217

Ricky Ponting

76

5870

55.37

20

21

257

Jacques Kallis

76

5728

55.07

16

28

189*

Mahela Jayawardene

76

5408

47.85

13

27

242

Inzamam-ul-Haq

76

5342

47.69

15

30

200*

This table contains the prolific scorers of the modern era and Younis’s presence speaks volumes of his dominance and efforts with the bat. Only Tendulkar has more hundreds than him at a similar stage and Dravid is the only one who has more runs. In fact, his feats place him ahead of his former team-mate Inzamam-ul-Haq, who was a mainstay in the Pakistan line-up.

 

A three-nil whitewash of England wouldn’t have been possible without the Younis effort at Dubai. His record places him with some great names and even murmurs surrounding his position should be dispelled with a mere look at his numbers!

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 21-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)