New Zealand v Pakistan, Champions Trophy, semi-final, Jo'burg

Dropped catch adds to Younis' woes

Osman Samiuddin in Johannesburg

October 4, 2009

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Younis Khan was dismissed by Daniel Vettori, New Zealand v Pakistan, ICC Champions Trophy, 2nd semi-final, Johannesburg, October 3, 2009
Younis Khan turned in a series of stuttered innings holding back whatever start Pakistan's openers often provided © AFP

Younis Khan has not had, personally, a tournament to remember. He fractured his finger in a warm-up game and missed his side's opening game. Despite being advised four weeks rest, he returned to play against India with hopes of a memorable contribution and played in the rest of their games with the injury.

But he struggled with the bat, a series of stuttered innings holding back whatever start Pakistan's openers often provided. The injury - to the small finger on his right and bottom hand - visibly hindered his batting and his 15 against New Zealand completed a tournament where he made just 53 runs. More pertinently tonight, the injury led to Younis dropping a sitter, off Grant Elliott, at a crucial moment in the game.

Elliott was struggling along on 42 in the 40th over when Mohammad Aamer came back into the attack as Pakistan searched for wickets. Elliott drove limply to short cover, where Younis tried to take, awkwardly, with fingers pointing up, but dropped. New Zealand were 165 for 4 at the time and the drop had about it the feel of a match-turning moment. Soon after Elliott finally opened up, and with solid help from Daniel Vettori saw his side through to the final.

Younis, usually a safe catcher and Pakistan's most reliable slip fielder, agreed later that it was an important miss. "Actually it was very crucial. It was a simple one but I just dropped it. Maybe after that catch, things would've changed. It's the broken finger more than anything. I was trying to save the finger."

Questions will be raised over whether it was right that Younis took part, carrying an injury. But if he had not played there would likely have been outrage at him shirking responsibility. This one battle, he wasn't going to win.

"I dropped that catch and I will remember it because maybe the situation would've changed," said Younis. "But if you play for the country with a broken finger…in previous matches I got a run-out and a good catch and people praised it, saying he is doing it with a broken finger. Today we made some mistakes and lost and paid for it so, I am not worried just about dropping the catch."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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