Pakistan news January 27, 2009

Younis may replace Malik as captain

Frontrunner: Younis Khan © AFP

Reports have emerged on Tuesday, following Pakistan's disastrous ODI series loss to Sri Lanka last week, that Younis Khan has been approached to replace Shoaib Malik as captain. Cricinfo has learnt that the board chairman, Ijaz Butt, summoned Younis from a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match for Habib Bank at the Gaddafi Stadium for an emergency meeting that lasted approximately 15 minutes.

Pakistan news channel Geo, quoting unnamed board sources, said the result of the meeting was that Younis had been offered the captaincy and that he had accepted it. A source close to Younis, however, told Cricinfo he hadn't accepted it yet.

"He has been offered the captaincy, but the important thing for him is that he wants it on his own terms and conditions. As far as I know he hasn't accepted it just yet," the source said. "The offer, like before, comes at a difficult time for Pakistan cricket and that will play a part."

The reference to the past was when Younis was first offered the captaincy after a disastrous 2007 World Cup, when Inzamam-ul-Haq stepped down and retired from ODIs. He had been groomed for the role for two years prior to that as vice-captain, and only after he refused was it offered to Malik.

Younis had turned down the captaincy previously as well, in October 2006, when he replaced Inzamam briefly for the Champions Trophy in India. After he announced that he wasn't going to take up the captaincy and walked out of a press conference, he was eventually convinced by a new board chairman to lead the team.

Soon after the meeting on Tuesday, senior board officials and members of the team management as well as the selection committee held a meeting of their own with the chairman. The second meeting was to ostensibly discuss the fallout from the series; Intikhab Alam and team manager Yawar Saeed handed in their report of the series during the meeting.

If the reports are confirmed, it will end an unsettled period of leadership for Malik. Though his ODI results are impressive on the surface, they hide a string of wins against minnows such as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. More crucial to understanding the pressure to remove him at the moment is the statistic against bigger opponents. The Sri Lanka series loss means that Pakistan has now lost series against every major nation they played under Malik: in 2007-08 they lost both the Test and ODI series against South Africa at home and away to India.

There have also been persistent reports of an uneasy relationship with senior players such as Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Akhtar. Yousuf has criticised Malik publicly since he moved to the ICL while Malik openly questioned Shoaib's commitment during the Sri Lanka ODIs, before swiftly backtracking on his remarks.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo