BOOM July - Page 43

CRICKET teams and the departments were taking note. Both HBL and NBP offered him to join them and at my suggestion he signed up for HBL because I felt Kabir Khan there would help him grow as a player.Younis scored another double hundred the same season and went on to score over 1200 runs at a prolific rate. He was soon to be part of the Pakistan team and, although sent lower down, he scored 46 against Sri Lanka in a One-day International and then a fabulous century on Test debut against the same team at Rawalpindi a few days later.In no time, he rose to vice captain’s post and would often lead the side to picking up some quick wickets when Inzamam was off the field. He was named captain when Inzamam was unavailable and his greatest success was to lead Pakistan to victory in the 2009 World Twenty20.That victory came against all odds when Pakistan was nowhere among the favourites. To give him credit, Younis got the best out of the players besides ending up as one of the most successful batsmen in the tournament. And it was under him that Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Amir were introduced.It is ironic, though, that despite the massive achievement, the PCB allowed the players to carry out a mutiny against him because he was very strict on physical fitness and training. Senior and emerging players, some five or six of them, got together and quietly made sure Younis did not meet with much success in the matches that followed.They deliberately performed below their best when he dropped any of them for faring poorly. Younis soon resigned from the job out of pro- test, saying that the whole rigmarole is hurting the team and he has no qualms about playing just as a player to ensure Pakistan won.It was because of this spirit with which he always plays the game that his omission hurt him so much. But his return with such a grand onslaught and high scores against Australia and New Zealand last year came as no surprise to me.In fact, I was only expecting it. This was the quintessential tough guy in Younis who had risen to the occasion yet again. He may be less talented than some other top class players to have represented the game, but is far ahead when it comes to being a mentally strong and disciplined player who believes in working hard.In his now 15-year career for Pakistan, Younis has experienced many ups and downs, and on personal front as well. He lost his two brothers to heart attacks, one in Germany and one in Ukraine, and was left stunned when his sister died in Mardan. His father also died around the same time. Mid last year he lost his nephew while he was in Sri Lanka which forced him to quit the tour and make an early return home.I doubt if anyone, struck by so many tragic deaths in the family within a span of six years, can carry on with both life and cricket with such a big heart.He has, indeed, battled his way through the odds to his hundredth Test. It is a big honour for any cricketer but none more deserving than Younis Khan who has probably worked the hardest to reach this milestone.The writer is a former Pakistan captain and wicket-keeper 43 | BOOM