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November 10, 2009

Age of Khan

Disappointed in the desert

Kamran Abbasi


Pakistan isn't a country to tolerate a non-contributing captain © AFP
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This was set up to be an ideal start to Pakistan’s big year of international cricket. A World Twenty20 victory followed by a Champions Trophy semi-final were better outcomes than could have been imagined six months ago. Yes, the batting remained unpredictable but the bowling combination had quickly established itself as possibly the most exciting in limited overs cricket.

Younis Khan had tightened his grip on the captaincy, ready to build his team for great battles against Australia, England, at some point India, and then in the next World Cup. A fiery and ambitious vice-captain had restated support for his fellow Pathan’s leadership. All Younis now needed was a run of form to add some more clout to his captaincy.

The neutral venue was to the liking of Pakistan, homespun wickets that would encourage form from the most fragile of batsmen. Even the opposition boded well, a team that Pakistan are usually confident to beat.

Yet it all went wrong. Pakistan’s batsmen crumbled, leaving a teenage No. 10 to produce a most audacious innings, show his senior batsmen the art of determination, and offer Pakistan supporters some solace at this moment of disappointment.

The seeds of this defeat, however, were sown on the verandas of Lahore. Pakistan’s selection committee, possibly aided and abetted by their captain, played its usual dirty trick of changing the guard at the top of the batting order.

This seven-year itch is baffling. It hurts Pakistan. Since Saeed Anwar’s departure Pakistan have fiddled and failed with this crucial position. All short-term strategies based on personal likes and dislikes and nothing built to last.

Despite the loss in the Champions Trophy, Pakistan seemed to have arrived at a formula that could prosper, especially on the favourable wickets of UAE: Kamran Akmal to open with an ambitious striker. Instead Pakistan’s selectors, tinkers in chief, changed the personnel and the plan.

The touring party baffled us further by dropping the one major batting discovery of the past year, Umar Akmal, for the flimsiest of reasons. And then out went Mohammad Yousuf, a player whose position in the one-day team I’ve questioned myself but the decider seemed a strange time to switch strategies.

All this confusion does is question the new-found authority of Younis Khan. He remains the right leadership choice for Pakistan but he does himself no favours, in his new powerful incarnation, by allowing baffling decisions of strategy and selection.

Every captain makes mistakes. Yet successful captains are able to call on their personal form to cover their shortcomings. Younis faces a testing time. He strengthened his hand but lost his eye. Pakistan isn’t a country to tolerate a non-contributing captain. On the contrary, it depends on the performances of its captain to set the right example and deliver regular success.

These are issues, issues of selection and form, that Younis must address or his ambition of leading until the next World Cup will become a fool’s dream, his claim to the crown ring hollow. Pakistan cricket needs Younis to succeed. In many ways, the easy part was securing his position. Now he has to show greater skill by retaining it.

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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Posted by abdulla on (December 18, 2009, 17:13 GMT)

pak cricpolitics is the reason for the debacle. captains down himself in teh state of series loss.it shows the irresponsibility and un maturity of younis.he should have lead the team and should nt step dowm like a coward.he should be removed surely

Posted by Rauf on (November 11, 2009, 12:07 GMT)

Reading all the comments here asking for Younis's head and then suddenly this appears on cricinfo,

http://www.cricinfo.com/pakistan/content/current/story/433991.html

Any wonder Pakistan cricket is so unpredictable just like the country itself, dare I say. Younis was hero not too long ago and he is now a vilain. Was he pushed aside for NZ tour by PCB or he himself decided to hide away after the series' loss?

They should come up with a quiz show aptly named "Let's guess Pakistan team and captain before every match". Winner will get to slap everyone in the PCB once during the match. Special extra slaps for Dasti after the match if he comes out with match fixing BS.

Posted by Mabsoos Ahmad on (November 11, 2009, 11:58 GMT)

Perfect Surgery by Kamran Sahib. Too much tinkering in the batting order as well as over ambitious cost the services. Not to say about the lack of planning. Yes, a captain may try something different but not with the settled bunch of players. How on earth could drop Yousuf who has been most ever consistent palyers in the middle order, his average speaks about this. Remember that the team has not not able to find opener since the retirement of Saeed Anware and Aameer Sohail and the poor Yousuf has been carrying the burden from that time. Everyttime he comes to bat he has already lost 2 to 3 wickets and there is no run on the board. He steady the innings but we are not speaking in his favour but he has also been running himself out with no reason. We all know that a settled batting order is very essential for success. Recently Tendulkar has also blamed the defeat of the WC for tinkering the batting order. So, a well thought plan to be drafted and the combination equally...Thanks Ameer...

Posted by waterbuffalo on (November 11, 2009, 11:35 GMT)

This Younis/Yousuf problem reminds me of Miandad and Imran refusing to play under each other or for each other--same thing happened with Waqar/Wasim-it is the same old story with Pakistan, always feuding and putting personal interest over the goals and hopes of the team and the country. No country in the world would drop a batsamn like Mohd Yousuf, but perhaps he did not want to play to prove a point to Younis Khan. It is very disappointing but really nothing new apropos Pakistan cricket. I just hope Pakistan does not get humiliated in Australia. For the sake of the country, try your best and at least win one test. Pakistan supporters and fans have been crying since 2007, ever since Ireland and Bob Woolmer's death. Please put aside your personal differences for the good of the team. You have the bowlers and the batsman, don't sell the nation out. Don't break our hearts. Please. Enough.

Posted by Muhammad Rizwan on (November 11, 2009, 11:34 GMT)

Mudasar Siddiq, you rock, what a conclusive comment about Younis Khan, though this attitude problem of late possess more or less in all captains, I 100% agree with you, keep it up.

Posted by Saad Tariq on (November 11, 2009, 11:31 GMT)

Younis Khan is practically useless, his batting does not justify his position in the team, its good to hear that he is out of the test matches. Good riddens to bad rubbish

Posted by arun on (November 11, 2009, 11:25 GMT)

Yousuf should be selected to play ODIs at all. He should only be played in Test Cricket, like Laxman in India. Yes, Yousuf might score a fifty, but he will leak 20 runs in the field, and he will run out atleast 2 partners, which can be calculated at 20 runs per wicket. which means his positive run contribution is 50 and negative run contribution is 60. Pakistan always have trouble chasing low scores. Even during the time of Imran Khan (remember losing to India when chasing 125 in Sharjah), but there was Imran and Miandad to the rescue all the time. In 92 world cup also, every body talks about Inzi and Akram's heroics, but remember that would not have been possible without Imran and Minadad's slow and steady partnerships in the middle overs. No doubt pakistan have the talent, infact even current team is in par with team of the nineties, but its in the head pakistan needs to be strong. thats when they will win matches consistently.just look at the shots that the batsmen got out.

Posted by Muhammad Rizwan on (November 11, 2009, 11:22 GMT)

Kamran Abbasi, if we forget about YK form with bat & just only talk about his leadership skills, I have no doubt in my mind that he is very average captain like Inzamam, we have lost matches against AUS & NZL in champions trophy just because of his field placings, in the end they just need singles to win the match & we could only won by getting them out but regret to say that Younus field placings were horrible & gave too many easy single which in the end cost us the match. All in all he don't deserve a place in side neither as a batsman nor as a captain. He is average captain like an average batsman. Its in the inerest of PAK cricket to get rid of him ASAP.

Posted by IMRAN KHAN on (November 11, 2009, 11:17 GMT)

Younus must resign from Captaincy if he is true patriot. He is a burden on Pakistani team. People those think he is best choice for captaincy need to reply me What is his own credit in T20WC win?.nothing.Pakistan lost ODI&TEST against Australia,2 time against Srilanka,in Champions Trophy & now against New Zealand under his captaincy. His own performances since years not equal to a middle order player from any club like Sialkot,Karachi or Lahore. Pakistan must kick him out to prepare good side for WorldCup otherwise 2011 may also be like 2007.

Posted by Imran Yousaf on (November 11, 2009, 11:17 GMT)

I fully agree. Younis Khan - if he is making the final selection decisions has lost the plot. We have used about 18 different opening partnerships since WC 2007 which is rediculous. If we dont have genuine openers than why not just get some decent middle order batsmen and get them to put their hands up to open. I would love to see Misbah and Fawad open. If Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman Dravid and now even Kalis can give their Middle order positions for the greater good than why cant the Pak batsmen.

They do the complete opposite by dropping themselves down the order.

Dropping a form batmen in Umar Akmal was baffling enought but than to recall him at the expense of you only decent batsman in Mohammad Yousuf was just total bunkum. I mean imagine the pressure now on Umar who has to perform in place of Yousuf.

P.S Umar and Yousuf are the only current Pak batsmen to average over 40 and they both got dropped during this series...Genius!!!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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