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June 10, 2005
Younis Khan, Pakistan's vice-captain, has conceded that the dressing-room clash with Shahid Afridi, during the course of the first Test against West Indies in Barbados, did affect a number of younger members of the side and turned out to be a contributing factor in the team's defeat. The heated argument between Younis and Afridi centred around Afridi's batting position, and though he ended up blasting a quickfire hundred from No.6, Pakistan went down by a massive margin of 276 runs.
Younis was willing to dismiss the incident as "history and sorted out", but he admitted that it had a negative impact on the other players. "That incident hurt me and the team," he told The News. "We had a number of youngsters in the side who are very sensitive and they took time to get over it during the Test."
He went on to defend his decision to make Afridi open the batting - a position from which he had turned games on the Indian tour. "I thought that it would be a good move to ask Afridi to open the innings," he said. "Some misunderstanding occurred and things didn't click. I was also a bit worked up because it was my first Test as captain. But it did shake up the younger players in the side. Then the absence of Inzamam-ul-Haq, Yousuf Youhana and Shoaib Malik, who are all in-form players, from the playing side, did make a difference to the result."
However, Younis added that the overall atmosphere in the team was still healthy, and he was happy that they bounced back to win the second Test at Jamaica. "Look, even Inzamam, as captain, is not happy when things don't go right," he said. "Every captain is like that; he [Inzamam] is worked up and aggressive because he wants the best performances out of players but there should not be any reaction. My theory simply is that it is the senior players who must stand and take responsibility for everything. You can't only hold the juniors responsible.
"There is no doubt that as a team we feel we can now come back from any situation and beat anyone under any condition. We've learnt to fight back in tight situations. Inzamam deserves credit for this change. It's the second step towards our move forward to become a leading team of the world."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.