Why Younis Khan shouldn't have retired from Twenty20 cricket
"I'm old now for this kind of cricket." This was Younis Khan's assertion, and his justification for announcing his retirement from the shortest version of international cricket. There can be a case against that argument on the basis of Younis' age - he isn't 32 yet - but an even stronger case can be made on the basis of his approach as a batsman in the ICC World Twenty20.
As a leader he was always positive and inspirational, and as a batsman he was no less dynamic. Pakistan may have blown hot and cold over the course of the tournament, but Younis the batsman was on the ball from game one. In fact, his best performances came when the going was most difficult, in the two games that Pakistan lost. Against England, he played a lone hand with an unbeaten 46 off 31 balls even as the rest of the batting line-up crumbled; against Sri Lanka the story was similar, with Younis' 37-ball 50 the only major resistance during the run-chase of 151. (In the matches that Pakistan won, they did so with so much to spare that the captain was hardly called upon to do much with the bat.)
The key feature of Younis' batting was not only the runs he scored, but more the manner in which he made them. Against England he struck only five fours, and played out a mere seven dot balls. Against Sri Lanka the corresponding numbers were four and six. On the other hand, he ran seven twos in each of those innings. Both were perfect middle-overs innings, with the focus on minimising the risks, picking up gaps in the outfield, and ensuring that as many balls as possible were scored off. They were also the kind of innings that required a fair amount of fitness.
Younis finished the tournament with a healthy strike-rate of nearly 140 runs per 100 balls, but did so by collecting just 62 out of his 172 runs in fours and sixes. On the other hand, out of the 123 balls he faced, he allowed only 21 to go runless, an outstanding percentage of 17.07. Among batsmen who played at least 50 balls in the tournament, Younis' dot-ball factor was not only the best, but the best by a considerable distance - second-placed Ramnaresh Sarwan's dot-ball factor was 25%, almost 50% poorer than Younis'.
The table below is also an indication of why Pakistan are such a good Twenty20 side: there are four from the team among the 10 with the lowest dot-ball percentage. Add Shahid Afridi's amazing ball-striking abilities and the result is a pretty potent combination, as other bowling attacks found out in the competition. Only two other teams have more than one batsman in the list - West Indies have Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo, while England are represented by Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen, who's ranked just below his good friend Yuvraj Singh.
|Batsman||Dot balls||Total balls||4s, 6s||Total runs||% dot balls||% runs in boundaries|
|Younis Khan||21||123||11, 3||172||17.07||36.05|
|Ramnaresh Sarwan||15||60||5, 0||68||25.00||29.41|
|AB de Villiers||33||120||16, 6||186||27.50||53.76|
|Shahid Afridi||35||125||16, 3||176||28.00||46.59|
|Paul Collingwood||17||55||6, 0||63||30.91||38.10|
|Dwayne Bravo||33||106||12, 6||154||31.13||54.55|
|Shoaib Malik||45||140||12, 0||144||32.14||33.33|
|Yuvraj Singh||32||99||10, 9||153||32.32||61.44|
|Kevin Pietersen||33||101||19, 4||154||32.67||64.94|
Younis' Twenty20 form isn't restricted to the World Twenty20 alone; his overall stats are pretty good as well, and he has been among the leading batsmen in this format for Pakistan. His overall dot-ball percentage isn't as good as it was in the World Twenty20, but it is still mighty impressive - 33.24, which among Pakistan batsmen is next only to the mercurial Afridi. Younis' average and strike-rate are more than acceptable for a middle-order batsman in a format that only allows 20 overs per innings.
|Batsman||Runs||Average||Runs per over||Dots||Dot %||4s, 6s||% runs in 4s, 6s|
|Shahid Afridi||371||19.52||8.97||75||30.24||33, 12||54.99|
|Younis Khan||432||28.80||7.49||115||33.24||31, 12||45.37|
|Shoaib Malik||527||31.00||7.05||151||33.71||41, 13||45.92|
|Kamran Akmal||356||23.73||7.39||125||43.25||27, 15||55.62|
|Imran Nazir||201||33.50||9.00||64||47.76||18, 13||74.63|
|Salman Butt||328||25.23||5.80||164||48.38||33, 6||51.22|
|Mohammad Hafeez||174||19.33||7.10||73||49.66||23, 3||63.22|
Pakistan won 16 out of the 22 matches he played (they lost five and tied one), but Younis had a higher average in the matches the team lost, thanks largely to his two efforts against England and Sri Lanka in the recent World Twenty20. Among his efforts in wins, the best was against Sri Lanka, again - a 35-ball 51 in the 2007 World Twenty20, which was the only occasion he won the Man-of-the-Match award for his batting. He did win the award one other time in his career, but that was for figures of 3 for 18 against Kenya in a quadrangular tournament in Nairobi.
Among batsmen with whom he batted at least five times, Younis' best partner was Misbah. In six innings the two batsmen added 268 runs at an excellent average and strike-rate. The pair were remarkably consistent too, with three half-century stands, and another that yielded 48. Younis had some pretty good stands with Shoaib Malik as well, and Shoaib and Misbah will probably be expected to handle much of the middle-order responsibility when Pakistan play their next Twenty20 international, without Younis Khan.
|Partner||Innings||Runs||Average stand||Runs per over|
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo