Wednesday, February 18, 2009

KCCA President puts his weight behind Younis Khan

By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The President of the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), Dr Mohammad Ali Shah, reckons that the newly installed skipper Younis Khan has the temperament and the skills to come good in the hot heat.

“Having known him closely for a number of years, I firmly believe that he has the potential to rise to the occasion. Captaining the Pakistan team presents a very big challenge to anyone but Younis is one man who has the capability to deliver,” Dr Shah stated in a recent conversation.

Dr Shah, who is also the Minister of Sports in the province of Sindh besides being the President of the Sindh Olympic Association (SOA), appeared convinced that Younis will handle the demanding situation pretty well.

“I don’t think that his batting will be affected or he will feel burdened by captaincy. He knows how to handle the pressure. A truly gifted batsman, having scored heavily for the past many years, he seems to be possessing the leadership qualities to motivate the national team whose morale is on the lower side after the defeat in the recent ODI series against Sri Lanka,” Dr Shah, who is himself an iconic figure in the field of medicine and surgery, observed.

“Younis has had very time little time at his disposal because the Sri Lankans have now returned for the two-Test series. He was appointed the national skipper soon after the debacle in the ODI series. Here is an opportunity for him to lead by example and turn it around,” he believed.

“Younis is basically an enterprising cricketer. He has batted well in all parts of the world, having scored consistently against the strongest of bowling attacks. He has been rated as one of the best number three batsmen in the business. He needs to continue scoring heavily because his team would be looking forward to him. He is the senior most batsman in the side and he will need to bring all his experience into play to lead from the front,” Dr Shah stated.

The words of encouragement from Dr Shah should be a source of inspiration for Younis, who was appointed as captain of Pakistan soon after Shoaib Malik had stepped down following 234-run defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in the third ODI at the Qaddafi Stadium.

Younis was indeed the automatic choice to take over provided he was willing to accept the job. He had been offered the national captaincy in the past as well but he had made a mess of the opportunity that came his way.

It was described as a collective decision of the PCB to appoint Younis as the skipper once Shoaib Malik was out of the way.

Younis was playing the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match for his employers Habib Bank Limited (HBL) at the Qaddafi Stadium when he was summoned for a meeting with the PCB chairman, Ijaz Butt. According to the reports the meeting didn’t last more than 15 minutes and the middle-order batsman consented to lead the national team without having a second thought.

Probably in order to make the new skipper a little more comfortable, the PCB Chairman, had ruled out the possibility of having separate captains for Tests and One-day Internationals as Younis was installed as captain for Tests as well as ODIs for an indefinite period.

Mushtaq Mohammad Considers Younis Khan better captain than Shoaib Malik

By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Mushtaq Mohammad, acclaimed as the greatest cricket captain produced by Pakistan, has no doubts in his mind that Younis Khan, having been recently appointed the skipper of the national team, is far more suited to the job than his predecessor Shoaib Malik.

“Younis does have the leadership qualities that are so essential in getting the best out of the team. When you are the captain of the side you to inspire the members of your team, lift their spirits and back them,” Mushtaq remarked in a one-to-one chat at the Customs Cricket Academy in Karachi on February 16.

Having arrived from England only the other day, Mushtaq reckoned that the appointment of Younis as captain could help Pakistan in becoming a major force in world cricket once more.

“To be honest, Shoaib Malik never impressed me as a captain. In my book he wasn’t the right candidate to be offered the job. May be the cricket board had no other choice at that moment but this didn’t help the cause of the team,” Mushtaq believed.

“But let me add here that Shoaib Malik is an exceptionally gifted batsman who is capable of playing big knocks. He has already scored a few centuries and there seems no reason why he should not be scoring many more in future,” he asserted.

He dispelled the impression that Pakistan would be at any disadvantage in the upcoming home series against Sri Lanka for not having played Test cricket for over a year.

“I don’t think this would matter when the two teams take the field. As professionals every cricketer is expected to deliver in all sorts of situation. It’s a new series and the Pakistan team should think positively,” Mushtaq remarked.

“I do sincerely hope that our team doesn’t use this as an excuse if they are unable to perform in the two-Test series. Our boys would be advised to forget about the layoff and concentrate on the job in their hands instead,” he advised.

Mushtaq, who is remembered for having galvanized a bunch of high-profile individuals into a world beating outfit in the 1970s, remains convinced that Pakistan could give the Sri Lankans a run for their money in the Test series if they played to their potential.

Having led the team to victories in Tests in Australia and the West Indies during the 1976-77 season he regretted that Pakistan were not playing enough international cricket for the past few years.

“One can understand that the conditions in Pakistan might not have been entirely to the satisfaction of the visiting teams in the last few years but why haven’t Pakistan toured other countries more regularly than before to make up for the cancelled home engagements,” he questioned.

“I think the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) needs to be more proactive in their approach and they should look for the ways and the means to meet the challenge. Everyone knows that the situation is not ideal but you know one has to work harder for creating opportunities,” Mushtaq observed.