He scored a century on his Test debut. So did many other Pakistani batsmen: Javed Miandad, Saleem Malik, Mohammad Waseem, Taufeeq Umar, Azhar Mahmood, Ali Naqvi. Yasir Hameed struck two centuries in his first Test. But only one of these, Miandad, is considered among the greats of world cricket. Saleem Malik played more than a hundred Tests, scored many centuries, but he hardly ever came close to being counted among the greats.
Younis, a batsman who played junior cricket from Karachi but was not considered good enough to represent the city in first class cricket, surpassed all of these players, leaving behind even great Miandad. Younis is as combative as Miandad was. And he is almost as shrewd as Miandad.
Here we recall some of the best Test innings of his 18-year career.
Younis scored 58 and 51 against Australia at Colombo in 2002. The attack included McGrath, the highest wicket taker among Test fast bowlers, Shane Warne, the second highest Test wicket taker, and Bret Lee, the fifth highest wicket taker for Australia. Pakistan lost the match by 41 runs.
He scored 87 and 23 against Australia at Melbourne in 2004. The attack included Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, and Jason Gillespie. Australia won the match by nine wickets.
He scored 267 and 84 versus India in Bangalore in 2005. This innings was played against a bowling attack that had Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, India’s most successful spinners ever. And both of them were at their peak. He was the highest scorer in both innings.
He scored 43 and 107 not out against India in Kolkata in 2007. The second innings was a most memorable one as it saved the match. Pakistan, chasing 345, had lost four wickets for just 78 runs. Besides Yousuf, who was not out on 44, the only remaining batsman was young Faisal Iqbal. Thanks to Younis, he did not have to come to crease.
He scored 44 and 62 at Old Trafford in 2006. The opponents had such quality bowlers as Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison and Monty Panesar. He was the highest scorer in the first innings. Yousuf and Afridi were the only others to manage double figures. Pakistan were all out for 119.
In the second innings again he was the highest scorer. No other batsman even managed 40. Pakistan were all out for 222 and lost the match by an innings and 120 runs.
In the summer of 2016, he had had a woeful tour of England, having managed only 33 and 25 at Lord’s, 1 and 28 at Manchester, and 31 and four at Birmingham. Many people began advising him to announce retirement, but he silenced them all by scoring a match-winning innings of 218 at the Oval. England had a very potent bowling attack led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad, their most successful bowlers ever. And they were backed by skillful Steven Finn and Chris Woakes.