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by Matt Carter Tuesday 4 November 2014
For so long unjustifiably in the shadows of the more celebrated Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf, Pakistan’s mauling of Australia arguably signified the seminal series in the career of Younus Khan.
The focal point of Pakistan’s historic triumph, Younus racked up an astounding 468 runs, a return which encapsulated both three centuries and a series average of 156. Statistically speaking, Younus already commandeered a spot within his nation’s cricketing folklore, yet his leading role in plotting Australia’s demise has thrust the 37 year old to the very apex of Pakistani cricket.
Three maximums against Australia took his century tally to 27, two clear of Imzamam, who has now been relegated to second on the list. That accolade can however only be fully appreciated when realising that Younus has reached that number in a mere 93 Tests, with his Test per century ratio of 3.43 only bettered by Don Bradman and Matthew Hayden when drawing comparisons against Test cricket’s leading historical run-scorers.
That Younus only occupies 26th spot on that list adds weight to the viewpoint that the Pakistani is merely an exceptional batsmen rather than one of the game’s all-time greats, yet that ranking is critically influenced by all of those above him having at least exceeded the 100 Test appearance milestone.
A truer indication of Younus’ standing amongst the game’s gold standard would be comparing his average runs per Test and in this regard only Kumar Sangakkara and Brian Lara - ranked fifth and sixth on the all-time run-scoring list - can better the Mardan-born player’s figure.
Curiously for a player whom the numbers suggest warrants categorisation alongside the game’s pinnacle, Younus was previously not even considered the outstanding batsmen of his own national generation.
That perception comes from both Yousuf and Inzamam being more aesthetically pleasing batsmen, whereas by contrast Younus is a player typified by determination and an unrivalled resolve rather than grace and elegance.
That resilience however should not be undervalued, with Younus’ mental fortitude more than equalising the ground conceded to the likes of Inzamam and Yousuf in relation to natural ability - for all of that duo's talent there is little doubt that in a high intensity environments Younus holds an unparalleled advantage.
Digging in to Younus' record highlights his proficiency in situations of substantial pressure, for instance against Pakistan’s great rivals India his average stands at an astounding 88. At the same it is no coincidence that the recent arduous climate endured by Pakistan has delivered the most prosperous years of Younus’ career.
The last few years have persistently been doused in hardship for Pakistan, yet it is testament to Younus' character that during this time period he has consistently marshalled a limited batting line-up - in the process vaunting an average surplus to 60.
Drilling down in to Younus' record is akin to his robust nature at the crease. Naturally such analysis would at least unearth minor blemishes in even the most celebrated of batsmen - for instance Inzamam averages less than 32 against both South Africa and Australia while Yousuf has similar blemishes against the same opponents and Sri Lanka - yet Younus’ record stands firm against such extrapolation.
Only against the West Indies does Younus average less than 40 and even then a return of 39 remains respectable while that only three of his centuries have arrived against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe means any debate surrounding cheap runs is non-existent.
Analysing Younus' record against Javed Miandad - Pakistan’s leading all-time Test run-getter - still represents an area of muddy ground given the differing eras. Although Younus surpasses him in regards to average runs per Test and may well yet eclipse the great man’s run tally, that Miandad averaged a remarkable 52.6 during a period where batting was amongst its most challenging should not be underestimated.
Younus will never be classed alongside the most glamorous batsmen Pakistan have produced, yet with the exception of Miandad, who shared a similar fondest for tense match situations, never have they unearthed one so abundant in resilience and warrior-like characteristics.
His exertions in downing Australia has finally earned Younus the limelight his glittering career deserves and there should now be little doubt regarding his standing among the peak of Test cricket’s historical hierarchy. © Cricket World 2014
Pakistan Cricket Team