Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Colombo, 3rd day July 14, 2009

Younis rues his moment of madness

The flawed reverse-sweep will not stop replaying in Younis Khan's head for a while. It will haunt

Eat your heart out KP. Fret not, Misbah, you have company. For years to come, Younis Khan's reverse-sweep will be discussed, debated, derided, and blamed for the final collapse that cost Pakistan the match and the series. By the time you read this, that shot would have played thousands of times on the loop, reminding everyone of what could have been.

Consider the circumstance: Pakistan staged a comeback in true original style. After getting bowled out for 90 on the first morning, they bowled incredibly well to keep the deficit down to 150 following which the debutant Fawad Alam, opening for the first time in first-class cricket, scored a big century. Along with Fawad, Younis had added 200 for the second wicket to stretch the lead to 135. The bowling seemed at their mercy, a big target was on the cards, and the momentum was theirs.

Then the rush of blood to the head. Perhaps over-confidence against the spinners. It was the first ball of a part-time spinner's spell, and Younis inverted his stance. Out came a full toss outside leg, which he chased and connected with. On many occasions it would have lobbed behind the wicketkeeper but today it ricocheted off his right shoulder and went straight to the wicketkeeper, much like Kevin Pietersen's sweep off Nathan Hauritz in Cardiff last week. Pakistan duly collapsed, losing nine wickets for 35.

"Yes [it's replaying in my head]. I am still thinking if I hadn't played that shot, we would have been in a completely different situation," Younis said after Pakistan squandered all the hard work over the last two days.

It didn't answer the questions. Was he not thinking when he played the shot? Was he thinking too much? Did he feel he needed to dominate? Did he not know his undercooked team was prone to collapsing? The truth perhaps is that when you are batting in full flow these thoughts don't cross your mind. This was after all the same shot that he had so effectively employed repeatedly against the same team during his triple-hundred in Karachi earlier this year. Only against a much better spinner - Muttiah Muralitharan.

Still, Younis cannot hide. This shot will not stop replaying in his head and, for a while, it will haunt him. It will also probably hide the other factors responsible for the defeat. What, for example, of the rest of the batsmen, experienced campaigners most of them? For the third time in a row, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal were part of a collapse. That somehow will be forgotten when we look back at this Test two years from now.

"I have been saying for the last four-five years that if one person commits a mistake, the others shouldn't," Younis said. "If we hadn't added 200, then what would have happened? I don't point fingers at anybody - I never blamed Salman Butt [for throwing his wicket away in Galle]. This is a team game."

Or what of Daryl Harper's umpiring errors, which could make a case for hurrying in the era of umpire review systems? Or, for that matter, carrying reserve umpires on tours to replace a man in poor form. Harper didn't have a special Test in Galle, and today two of his four lbw calls looked decidedly wrong, and two appeared to have enough doubt.

It is also worth noting that the pitch did not have any monsters in it, which would mean that a set batsman didn't need to take risks and could think of playing out the game. The other argument would be that the pressure had already been lifted and put on the opposition. Logic will also suggest that for once the other batsmen should have fought the momentum swing. Allowance will be made for the way Shoaib Malik got out - many stronger blows to the stumps than this flying kiss have failed to dislodge the bails. In the end, though, we will come back to the shot Younis played.

We remember Sachin Tendulkar's attempt at an inside-out shot off Saqlain Mushtaq at Chennai in 1999, not the last three wickets falling for four runs. Pietersen's shot is still being talked about in greater length than England's toothless bowling. It's a cruel sport, and Younis will be reminded time and again of a task that he started so well but left unfinished because of a cute shot. One shot. No retake.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mazhar on July 19, 2009, 6:41 GMT

    LBW should be reviewed by third umpire

  • Mazhar on July 17, 2009, 22:12 GMT

    LBW should also be reviewed by third umpire

  • sameer on July 16, 2009, 10:03 GMT

    Nothing to blame when it comes to Younis Khan, even no complains about shoaib Malik. Pakistan were all out for 90 in 1st inning and shoaib Malik was the only one standing still. It was the other key players who were responsible for this Great Gifted Loss. Yousuf, Misbah, Akmal are the real culprit. These guys had been playing in a different level, atleast domestic level they are professionals and when they loose blame on lack of international cricket. common look at Bangladesh, they work hard, recently even if they lost matches they don't throw 4 wickets for 3 runs. seems everything was done purposely by these players.

  • tahir on July 16, 2009, 9:56 GMT

    "Mr.Daredevil Harper always had a bone to pick with Pak team for earlier confrontations" is the factor in pakistan losing the series and the test.This fellow took many time pakistan towards defeat and Mr Shoaib Malik is the second manif there would have been a regular test batsman in first inning situation might have been different. he doesn't deserve place in test sqaud i think ASIM KAMAL is the best choice. i request to selection commitee PLZ PLZ PLZ PLZ PLZ ASIM KAMAL

  • Zayad on July 16, 2009, 4:28 GMT

    haha no way man i dont think younis khans one lousy shot depleted the whole team of winning. He made over 80 runs the momentum was highly theirs and fawad alam was still at the crease. If juss cuz younis made that shot means they lost then why is there a team of 11 and not juss 2 people. Dont get me wrong it was a stupid shot but i dont think that its the reason the whole team got out.

  • A on July 15, 2009, 18:50 GMT

    Yousuf only had to prove he was needed by Pakistan, he did that through one century and now he is reaping the rewards of that. He will score runs in a dead rubber again, or he will do it against an opposition everyone is scoring against. Its how he plays. Don't depend on him when you really need runs. Malik was playing the part he plays best I guess. Someone on cricinfo pointed it out as a gesture of respect from the team for Yousuf that Malik got Yousuf his helmet back after the century and wiped his brow...I'm from Pakistan and tell ya what, thats not how you show respect here, thats what people do when they are licking up to you or trying to show the world what a great person you are. Malik, Yousuf and Misbah have a definite axe to grind with Younis. The sooner they are out of the side the better for Pakistan because none of them are half the leaders Younis is and they are undermining the team's unity.

  • Balaji on July 15, 2009, 15:23 GMT

    What this shows is that the Pakistani team is rusty.They need some more international cricket under their belt before any judgement is made.However, 2 things; frankly I don't know what Pakistan sees in Shoaib Malik. Good one day performer, but frankly not good enough to play Tests. Pakistan was teeming with talent, I don't know what is the scene now. Another thing, to get run out in a Test Match is inexcusable. I think the Pakistanis need to look at this. Lastly, I think Pakistan should look ahead. Asif or Shoaib Akhtar are a liability because they will always be suspect to the outside world. So Pakistan needs to put these two behind them, and look to unearth and foster talent

  • irfan on July 15, 2009, 10:26 GMT

    I feel its more like you scratch my back and i will scratch yours. Pakistan won the T20 world cup and now Srilanka won the test series making records streight of not winning the test series against pakistan at home. Its good every one is happy both nations of the troubled countries are happy for atleast some thing. But really its more like Noora kushti

  • ZAKIUL on July 15, 2009, 9:27 GMT

    Misbah's reverse sweep cost Pak the last T20 World Cup and now Younis's cost them the Test Series. PCB should put a penalty clause in the player's contract to cost them the entire match fee for being out for stupidity. Then again the Umpires msut be chastised also for their incorrect LBW decisions. Come to think of it, Mr.Daredevil Harper always had a bone to pick with Pak team for earlier confrontations.

  • Rajit on July 15, 2009, 9:12 GMT

    Sad but true that Younis Khan's one bad shot will be discussed for long.But it is not fair to crucify him.One must not forget that it was,first the spineless batting display in the 1st innings followed by hara kiri committed by batsmen who succeeded Younis in the 2nd innings were the key factors for this defeat & not even lack of Test match cricket...Period.

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