It’s not that often a cricketer gets the opportunity to represent his country in 100 Test matches, although with the surfeit of matches that are being played today the chances of doing so are great when compared to say fifty years ago.
Individually it is an achievement for any cricketer and Younis Khan, one of Pakistan’s modern day greats is elated that he is one match away from doing that. The second Test of the current series against Sri Lanka which starts at the P Sara Oval on June 25 will provide the occasion for Younis.
“I feel happy and proud that I will become the fifth Pakistani player to achieve the milestone. It is special 100 Test matches, for me it’s like a dream come true,” Younis told The Nation.
“When I was very young and started my career against Sri Lanka in 2000 back home it was my wish at that time when I finish my career I would play at least 100 Tests for my country. Insha’Allah my dream will come true in the second Test match.”
Javed Miandad, Salim Malik, Wasim Akram and Inzamam-ul-Haq are those who had done so for Pakistan before him.
Sri Lanka has played a major part in Younis’ international career and it is quite appropriate that he should make his 100th Test appearance in this country.
He made his ODI debut against them at Karachi in February 2000 and 13 days later his Test debut against the same opponents at Rawalpindi where he scored a hundred (107) in the second innings.
“It’s quite amazing my first match I remember scoring a hundred against Sri Lanka. Then in 2009 when I was captain I scored 313 against them, that was the highlight of my career,” said Younis.
“I remember when Inzamam (ul-Haq) scored a hundred in his 100th Test against India at Bangalore I got a double century in that game. I remember that feeling. If I can score a hundred in my 100th Test it will be a special innings. It would be good for me and for my country,” he said.
“In 2000 when Sangakkara started his one-day career it was against Pakistan in Galle. It’s quite amazing that we are still there Sangakkara playing his 131st Test and me approaching my 100th.
“My wish is that like Sangakkara I will like to finish my career when I am on top. Sangakkara scored four hundreds in the last World Cup and then he retired. Whenever I have a good series I will call it quits.”
Younis is a batsman endowed with a solid technique and a strong mentality to play long and massive innings. Of his 29 Test hundreds which is the highest by any batsman for Pakistan, he has gone past 150 on 10 occasions.
“I was lucky, when I was playing for Pakistan in early 2000, there was (Brian) Lara, Inzamam, Mohammad Yousuf, Sangakkara, Mahela (Jayawardene), (Virender) Sehwag and Sachin (Tendulkar). We played regularly against them and I learnt a lot from them,” said Younis.
“I am still learning how they carry themselves. I follow them and sometimes I try to copy them like when I was scoring 300 against Sri Lanka at Karachi. Mahela scored 240 and we were both captains. It was my wish that as the captain I followed the top lads.”
It has been against Sri Lanka that Younis has played the most number of Tests and scored the most runs – 2019 runs (avg. 50.47) from 27 Tests.
“I always loved playing against Murali (Muralitharan). He is a very top lad and a nice character he never gave me a hard time especially verbally whenever I scored against him. He always praises my effort and it was a pleasure to play against him,” said Younis. “Whenever I meet him we wish each other. In the last series against Australia when he was in the Australian camp as their spin bowling consultant, he met me and motivated me.”
Younis, 37 said that he had been able to prolong his career thus far because of the support he has received from his fans all over the world.
“The last two or three years it has not been easy for me there were some controversies but my supporters and the Pakistan media supported me. Because of them, my family and my friends I have been motivated. That’s why I am here today playing the game hard and still enjoying it,” said Younis.
“Especially in Pakistan they all love me and they cheer for me. There are a lot of followers in Sri Lanka as well, whenever I play in Galle, Colombo or Pallekele they come and meet me and wish me. I am happy how my fans have supported me all over the world. I have to thank them for cheering me for the last 16 years they were there for me.
“I would be doing them justice if I can score a hundred in my 100th Test. It would be nice to score a hundred in front of the Sri Lanka crowd because I started my career also against Sri Lanka.”