One of Pakistan's modern batting greats, Younis Khan is the kind of man who responds best in adversity. A Test average of over 50, a triple-hundred, a famous double-hundred against India in India, and a brilliant rearguard partnership to clinch Pakistan's 3-0 Test whitewash over England, leave no doubt about his quality and class. He is also one of the most successful fielders for Pakistan, and can bowl respectable slow-medium. As a captain, Younis has enjoyed success in leading Pakistan to the world Twenty20 title in 2009.
Much of his persona evokes the idea of the quintessential Pathan warrior - committed, inspired, capable, and bearing the burden of conflict with fortitude and poise. Born in Mardan, a prominent city in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Younis moved at an early age to Karachi, where he caught the eye of Rashid Latif and Saeed Anwar at Malir Gymkhana, one of the city's renowned sports clubs. The relationship with Latif blossomed into a nurturing mentorship, guiding Younis towards entry onto the world stage. After two impressive domestic seasons, he got a Test call-up, and marked it with a century on debut.
Style and aesthetics are not his strongest points. His technique relies on a good deal of bottom hand, which deprives it of the fluidity and grace that is typical of Asia's best batsmen. Yet when Younis gets going, he produces results in the face of steep odds.
Indeed, the steeper the odds, the more Younis seems to thrive. His match-winning 267 and 84 not out in Bangalore came after a string of low scores prompted a sarcastic comment from the team manager that leaked into the media. His greatest captaincy feat - the world Twenty20 championship in England - was achieved weeks after Pakistan cricket had been devastated by the terror attacks in Lahore. And though his triple-century came at home on a flat track, the innings began under pressure when Younis, eschewing the nightwatchman, stepped out himself in the dying moments of the second day with Pakistan staring at a huge Sri Lankan total. Unsurprisingly for a rearguard specialist, Younis has emerged a master of the fourth innings. Among players with 1000 or more fourth-innings Test runs, his average is among the highest.
Along with these accomplishments, Younis's career has also seen turmoil. Inability to control infighting within the team and display tact with the PCB led to him losing the captaincy in late 2009, and he effected a moody refusal when circumstances changed and it was offered again. His nature is to be inward-looking and intensely focused, quietly fighting his way through. While this makes for a reclusive personality that shuns the media and runs afoul of officialdom, it has also been the source of Younis's batting strength and his extraordinary resilience as a cricketer.Saad Shafqat