October 26, 2010

Return of Younis to bolster brittle middle-order


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

If Younis Khan is fit and the form has not deserted him totally he would walk into the Pakistan side any time. He has been one of the very few consistent batsmen in the line-up that had generally struggled for runs.

More than form and fitness it were his differences with Ijaz Butt, the proprietor of Pakistan cricket for the last couple of years, that kept the prolific number three batsman out of the national team for so long.

It has been the hallmark of the Ijaz Butt era during which the national interest has been compromised repeatedly for the pleasure of just one individual who considers himself above the law.

Yawar Saeed and Intikhab Alam, the principal advisors to Ijaz Butt, have left no stone unturned in damaging the cause of the national team in order to get closer to their master. In return they have been getting the joyrides one after the other.

Ijaz Butt and party experimented with various options but they could not find replacements for the likes of Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan in particular with the inexperienced and less skilled youngsters faring as miserably as one would have expected.

Yousuf, a former captain, had to be recalled in the middle of the summer, albeit with the intervention of a political heavyweight, but he has been ruled out the Twenty20s and One-day Internationals against South Africa after rupturing his abductor muscles.

There was continuous pressure for the recall of another former captain Younis Khan and finally he was selected for the South African series after successfully negotiating a deal with Ijaz Butt.

Younis had received an indefinite ban in March for conflicting with Yousuf during the ill-fated tour of Australia at the start of the year. An arbitrator lifted the ban in June and it was manager Intikhab Alam who declared publicly that Younis has resolved all outstanding issues during a meeting with PCB chairman Ijaz Butt.

“It's very good news that Younis is back. I am happy that all the issues are resolved and he is available for Pakistan. He is an experienced player and he would definitely strengthen the team,” Intikhab reckoned.

The diplomatic character that he has been all along, Intikhab didn’t care to explain why Younis was kept out of the side when he was available. Instead he passed the impression that South Africa were tougher rivals than Australia and England against whom Pakistan played earlier this year.

“We have to look forward as South Africa is a very tough team. Batting has been our main problem for quite some time, but if our batsmen played five-six sessions in a Test match, we have the bowling to restrict the South Africans. The experienced players have to take responsibility and put enough runs on board for the bowlers to defend,” he remarked in the familiar tone of his.

“I am happy to be back and eager to play for my country. I am available to play in all three forms of the game and it's up to the management to play me whenever they want,” Younis, having earlier quit T20 Internationals, stated after his recall.


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