The failure of Pakistani openers is nothing new for the management and the Pakistani spectators, but the middle order had been strong in the ‘70s, ‘80s and until mid 90s, thanks to players like Zaheer Abbas and Javed Miandad.
From the mid-‘90s to 2007 the middle order was given strength by such players as Inzamam-ul-Haq and Moha-mmad Yousuf. Later Younis Khan also joined the duo.
Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf have retired, and now Younis Khan along with skipper Misbah-ul-Haq is the backbone of Pakistan batting.
In the first Test against Australia in Dubai, we saw the openers failing once again. It was once again veteran Younis who rescued the team, with his 25th century, helping the team move from 7-2 to 219-4 at the close of first day’s play. His previous Test century against Sri Lanka in Galle two months ago came when he walked in at 19-2.
With this century in Dubai, Younis equalled Inzamam-ul Haq’s record. Inzamam and Yousuf scored hundreds against all Test nations except South Africa.
In the last five years, Younis has scored 2562 runs at an average of 58.81, with 10 centuries and seven fifties.
This was 36-year-old Younis’s first hundred against Australia, making him the first Pakistani and the 12th batsmen overall to score a hundred against all Test opponents. Those who achieved this milestone before him are Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis of South Africa, Sri Lanka’s Marvan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, Australia’s Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid and West Indian Brian Lara.
Just a few days before the series, he had been asked why he did not have a century against Australia. He had replied that he knew that and would do his best to achieve this as well.
After scoring the hundred against Australia, Younis said he was proud to become the first Pakistani to score a hundred against all nine Test opponents and equal the record of most hundreds for his country. “It was never in my mind before but when I scored a hundred in Sri Lanka it came to my mind, when I equalled (Mohammad) Yousuf’s record of 24 then it came to my mind that I have no hundred against Australia and then equalling great Inzamam’s record, it’s even a bigger honour to be equal with him,” said Younis.
Younis was recently dropped from the ODI side, which put his place in Pakistan’s squad for the 2015 World Cup in serious doubt. But he remains determined. “Things keep going against me but all the time I play for my country and whenever my team needs me I go there and play positive cricket with positive body language and it was in my mind that if I do something here I will be a proud Pakistani,” he said.
In June this year the PCB released a list of 31 contracted players. It put Younis, one of the most senior players, with Umar Akmal, Umar Gul and Ahmed Shehzad in Category ‘B’, while Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Junaid Khan were placed in Category ‘A’.
The logic behind this decision was that only those who play all the three formats were considered for the ‘A’ category. As Younis has retired from the Twenty20 format, he was offered category ‘B’ contract. Later, the board rectified its mistake and offered Category ‘A’ contract to him.
Younis, 36, has played in 90 Tests, 253 ODIs and 25 T20 Internationals. He has led Pakistan in nine Tests, 21 ODIs and eight Twenty20 matches.
The ever-smiling right hander from Mardan remains a permanent fixture in the Test squad and hopes to revive his ODI career. He aims to retire on his own terms rather than be dropped by the selectors.