Younis Khan has said that he is ready for the challenge of leading Pakistan in the first Test against West Indies, which starts on May 26. With Inzamam-ul-Haq serving a one-match suspension, Younis will complete a remarkable turnaround just three months after being recalled for the Test series against India. Pakistan have now embarked on a 27-day tour of the Caribbean, which begins with a three-match one-day series, the first of those at St Vincent on May 18.
"For the past three weeks or so, I have been preparing as to how would I conduct myself when the time comes to lead the country in the opening Test," said Younis to Dawn newspaper prior to his departure. "Of course it is a great responsibility that I've to shoulder at the start of the series. The absence of Inzamam leaves a gaping hole in the middle order. But the rest of the team has got to lift itself to fill the void. I am sure if we play with the same spirit and dedication as we did in the final Test against India, there'll be lots of positives for us in store."
Inzamam was banned for showing dissent in the Bangalore Test against India, but Younis, who was appointed as vice-captain ahead of the Indian tour, has been in magnificent touch, scoring 508 runs in those three Tests at a staggering average of 101.60. Pakistan drew the Test series 1-1 and won the one-dayers 4-2.
"It will be unwise on our part because in cricket anything is possible. One can't take victory for granted in any sport, be it team or individual. One bad session could cost the team dear," said Younis, when asked about the prospect of a first-ever series win in the Caribbean. "West Indies may have been struggling for a long time in the Test arena, but that doesn't mean we will roll them over. Their batting is formidable, especially on their own pitches. We should not forget that virtually the same batting line-up chased a mammoth fourth-innings score not only to set a world record but defeat Australia of all teams [in 2003]."
Meanwhile, Pakistan suffered an early blow last evening, when Abdul Razzaq dropped out of the squad for personal reasons. "Hopefully, I will join the team later, because the condition of my aunt is quite precarious," said Razzaq. "I can't say at the moment when I'll be able to join the team."
However, Bob Woolmer, the coach, has warned his charges not to take the West Indies lightly. "It would be nice to cap the first year as coach with a win in the Caribbean, but we will not underestimate the West Indies and have to play at our best," he said. "Every series is a new series. What has happened in the past does not bother me. This team stands a good chance of winning if they play as they did in India."