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January 27, 2009
Younis Khan, Pakistan's new captain, wants all of his players to "wave magic wands" to try and help the team improve. Younis took over as Test and ODI captain from Shoaib Malik, who was relieved of his duties by the PCB after a disastrous ODI series loss to Sri Lanka.
Having turned down the captaincy twice before, Younis said he had no hesitation in accepting the post this time. Though he acknowledged that difficult challenges lie in wait, past experiences, he said, will help him through.
"I didn't need to think twice this time in accepting the post," Younis told Cricinfo. "It is and it isn't a tough challenge in a sense. Captaincy is always tough, but I've already been captain before and I don't think you can be in a tougher situation than the 2006 Champions Trophy, when we lost Shoaib [Akhtar] and [Mohammad] Asif a day before the tournament."
Younis comes in not only to lead a team struggling on the field, but one fractured under Malik's reign. Cliques have been built up, senior players have been isolated and even some younger players have suffered. The task is complex and not for one man alone.
"I will try and fix things that aren't right at the moment," Younis said. "But the boys will all have to get together and wave their magic wands. I can't just wave it by myself. I want our team to be consistent above all, in everything we do and that will require everyone to put their hands up."
Had he accepted the post after the 2007 World Cup, it would've completed a rare succession plan. Then 29, it would've been the perfect age, and time, to take over. Now at 31, Younis knows time is not entirely on his side, but there is enough for him to contribute significantly.
"I'm at the age now where I don't have a huge amount of time, but still some time," he said. "Fitness permitting I can still play another three-four years, but it's not the same as if you're younger and can really plan long-term.
"There is enough time to make a mark though. Difficult decisions will have to be made and you have to be brave to be captain. But I have nothing to lose and I'm naturally aggressive so that will come through in my captaincy."
Plays of the day from the fourth ODI between Australia and South Africa at the MCG