Kolkata: There’s no stopping Younis Khan. As goes the adage, “Old is Gold,” the Pakistani batsman personifies it though one might face his wrath referring to him as old. But at 39, he still shows the zeal of a 20-something as he powers his way to his 34th Test ton at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Thursday, and in the process, achieving the distinction of scoring hundreds in all the 11 countries that host Test cricket. And he is preceded by none in this regard. Former Indian batsman Rahul Dravid misses out, as he has never played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Younis’ hundred at the SCG is also his first in Australia.
Becoming the man in crisis once again, Younis showed his class with an unbeaten 136 against Australia in the third Test match at the SCG on Thursday. Riding on his hundred and partnership with Azhar Ali (71), Pakistan ended the day at 271 for 8 still trailing Australia (538 for 8) by 267 runs. It is not just a question of numbers, but his tenacity to stay in the middle and take on the opposition bowlers when his team is under crisis, that should be a lesson for any wannabe cricketer.
At a time when a much younger Virat Kohli is amassing runs at ease, the perseverance of a Younis is exemplary and it only bears testimony to the fact that age is just a number. Thanks to his hundred at Sydney, Younis enters the elite club comprising Sunil Gavaskar, Mahela Jayawardene and Brian Lara who all have scored 34 Test centuries.
Making his Test debut against Sri Lanka at Rawalpindi in 2000, Younis has been one of the mainstays of the Pakistani batting line-up especially in Test matches (he has scored the maximum number of runs among all Pakistani cricketers in Tests). As a captain, he led Pakistan to the World T20 title in 2009. He averages over 50 in Test cricket (including a triple hundred), though his ODI average of around 31 doesn’t do justice to his class, yet the cricketer born in Mardan that falls under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan, has played some useful knocks for his country in ODIs as well.
Younis, to many has been a silent performer for his country. He may lack the glamour of Imran Khan or the popularity of Inzamam-ul-Haq, yet time and again, Younis has stood his ground when his team has been in dire straits. His sound temperament and solid technique have fetched him thousands of runs at the international level. In 2016, he scored a double hundred against England at the Oval Test and a hundred against West Indies at Abu Dhabi. He was found wanting against New Zealand, but he has silenced his critics with his century at the SCG.
Pakistan may still be staring at a defeat in the ongoing Test, yet Younis’ feat will be one of the highlights of the series that has already been won by Steven Smith’s men. Yes, Younis qualifies to be tagged as a great player and when he finally quits, he will leave behind innumerable feats that will be hard to emulate.
(With inputs from The Express Tribune)