Younis Khan: A legendary match winner

Published: September 10, 2013
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Can you even imagine where Younis Khan would be today if Pakistan played as many Tests as Australia, England, or India? PHOTO: AFP

When Younis Khan helped Pakistan out of a precarious situation in Pakistan’s second innings of the first Test against Zimbabwe, you would have known that you were in for a Younis Khan special.

When it comes to Test cricket, Younis Khan is arguably the best batsman Pakistan has produced. He always delivers when the team is in need, he is better than all when it comes to second innings performances, he saves Tests, he wins Tests and he is a team man. His exploits and relative standing compared to other batting greats of the game have been well documented. Now, we attempt to figure out where he stands among Pakistani batting greats, as well as the other modern batting greats.

Performance away from home

Everyone can score at home on pitches they are familiar with and where they have spent batting their entire life. The true test for a batsman comes when he is placed in unfamiliar conditions and tested by an unknown environment that requires him to adapt appropriately. A majority of the batsmen in this world have a better home record than an away record, but great batsmen have as good an away record as their home record. That is what distinguishes the greats from the good.

Younis Khan’s century in the first Test against Zimbabwe was his 22nd. He is still behind Inzamam (25), Yousuf (24), and Miandad (23), but more importantly, it was his 15th century outside of Pakistan, overtaking Inzamamul Haq’s record of 14 centuries away from home.

During his unbeaten double century against Zimbabwe, Younis Khan also became the second Pakistani batsman to score 5,000 runs in Test matches away from home. He is now only 66 runs away from Inzamam’s record of five 120 runs scored in Tests played away from Pakistan.

Younis Khan also has the best away average among all Pakistani batsmen who have played at least 10 innings away from Pakistan. With an away average of 49.54, one that is among the top 10 averages for batsmen who have scored at least 5,000 runs in Tests away from home, we can safely state that he is one of those batsmen we should take pride in.

Performance in wins

Another benchmark for great batsmen is how well they perform in matches won by their team, or rather how many matches are won on the basis of the particular batsman’s performance.

Sachin Tendulkar is notorious for scoring irrelevant centuries; those that do not help India win. In contrast, Inzamamul Haq is popularly known as the biggest match winner produced by Pakistan, as a majority of his Test centuries have resulted in Pakistan wins. Inzamam is leaps and bounds ahead of any Pakistani batsmen when it comes to match winning performances, but Younis Khan also sits proudly at number two for Pakistan.

Younis’ match winning 200 against Zimbabwe was his 10th Test century in a win, equalling Javed Miandad’s 10 Test centuries in wins. While it’s far behind Inzamam’s 17 centuries in Test wins, Younis averages in the 70s like Inzamam did.

 

During the course of his double hundred, Younis Khan crossed 3,000 runs in Test matches won by Pakistan.

Among all batsmen who have scored at least 3,000 runs in matches won by their team, Younis has the fifth best average; a true match winner!

Performance in wins away from home (excluding Zimbabwe and Bangladesh)

Many batsmen are often criticised for scoring easy runs on flat wickets at home or against weaker oppositions. Considering this, I believe that the ultimate benchmark for a match winning batsman is the performance he has given in Tests played and won away from home against a strong opposition.

Taking out Zimbabwe and Bangladesh from the analysis, Younis Khan comes out to be the best performer in Tests won by Pakistan away from home, with a Bradmanesque average.

(Qualification: min 10 innings)

When compared to other batsmen around the world, Younis Khan has the fourth best average in Test wins away from home. I believe that one can safely say that Younis Khan is not only one of the biggest match winners produced by Pakistan, but he is also one of the best match winning batsmen in the world. Among contemporary batsmen, only Alastair Cook has a better average than Younis Khan.

(Qualification: min 1,000 runs)

Note the kind of names missing from the above list – no Sachin, no Lara, no Ponting.

It really is a shame that Younis Khan has played only 25 Test matches since the start of 2009. During the same period Alastair Cook has played 61 Tests, Kevin Pietersen and Michael Clarke have played 54 each, and Sachin Tendulkar has played 42! Can you even imagine where Younis Khan would be today if Pakistan played as many Tests as Australia, England, or India?

He would have not only been Pakistan’s leading scorer in Tests, he would have been among the top five in the world!

This piece originally appeared here.

umair.qazi

Umair Qazi

An investment advisor in Dubai who blogs at www.wellpitched.com/ and tweets @WellPitched

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Spigot !

    Forget everything, check out the Average of Sir don Bradman !!
    Truly a “SIR” !
    130 in test wins ! Amazing ! Too bad we dont live in the era of sir Bradman !

    Rest, Younis is an underrated player. He is a decent player with whole lot of score under his belt. He should not quit Test cricket at the moment. Keep up the good work.Recommend

  • http://www.ahmadfuad.pk Ahmad Fuad

    Excellent Job Umair… A desperately needed analysis, especially for those who like to belittle our legends.
    I cannot agree more than what you have mentioned in your analysis.Recommend

  • Ali

    Younis Khan will never be bracketed amongst the modern day Pakistani greats like Inzamam or Saeed Anwar. He has been a very good test player… but all great test players have respectable odi records too… Younis Khan averages 31.88 in ODI cricket with a strike rate of only 75.35!Recommend

  • http://no syed azhar hussain

    y0unosshoul be part of one team also
    azharRecommend

  • hassan

    Younis Khan has scored 15 away hundreds (out of career total of 22 centuries) and according to the author, he can be called a legend.

    Now, let me put the performance of Younis Khan in perspective.

    Out of his centuries:
    2 have come against Bangladesh
    5 against India
    5 against Sri Lanka
    1 against Zimbabwe
    All weak bowling attacks
    He has NIL centuries against Australia.
    For a legend, he has only 2 quality centuries to speak of: One against SA in SA this year and a big hundred in a high-scoring match in England way back in 2006. A couple of good innings here and there does not make a batsman a legend.
    Author says he is one of the best match-winning batsmen in the world because of his contribution in 15 away wins. He forgets to add, most of the away wins are in Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and in UAE. (He has scored four hundreds in UAE.)
    He is good but please, but not that good. Don’t use words like legends so casually.
    Recommend

  • Waseem Sarwar

    I never thought he has such sublime stats in wins. What a fantastic player we have in our team. well done to the writer for awesome work. Recommend

  • Charismatic Angel

    He is now only 66 runs away from Inzamam’s record of “five 120 runs” scored in Tests played away from Pakistan.
    Correction: He is now only 66 runs away from Inzamam’s record of “five thousand one hundred & twenty runs” scored in Tests played away from Pakistan.Recommend

  • Waseem Sarwar

    @Ali:
    Mahela Jayawardene has ODI batting average of 33 and a strike rate of 78 while Rahul Dravid had his ODI average of 39 but with 71 strike rate. I hope that satisfies you. :) Younus is a modern great of cricketing world. Recommend

  • Waseem Sarwar

    @hassan:
    I can’t remember when was the last time Younus played against Aussies in a test match. He wasn’t in the team for the 2009-2010 series down under and neither played in ICC spirit of the cricket series in UK against them too. He last toured England to play in tests over there in series where Yousaf dominated the scoring charts but he scored a ton there too. His recent ton against Saffas ticks another column so i think you can’t score in matches where you are not playing. :) Recommend

  • http://kolkata antanu

    @Ali:
    Sour grapes dear….ODI has nothing to do with TESTS…perhaps you are disappointed with Sachin’s absence in the elite group.But then Sachin has never been a player who have won matches for India. In this matter Dravid is far far ahead…however one wonders why he is not given his dues.Recommend

  • http://kolkata antanu

    @hassan:
    when you paly against a team…its never lowly ranked.By your standard lot of centuries by Sachin woulb be declared null.Dude…always learn to applaud the achievements of others also.This would not make you small.and what do you think of India…IS IT A WEEK SIDE? come on..Recommend

  • Ali

    @Waseem Sarwar: Mahela Jayawardane is not a great player in my opinion…his statistics away from subcontinent will prove that…Rahul Dravid has an ODI average of 39.16 (8 more than Younis) with a strike rate of 71.24 in 344 matches which is still OK…My point is Younis Khan’s ODI performances has been disappointing over the years for a player who averages more than 50 in Test Cricket… some might argue I shouldn’t be discussing ODI cricket at all as Test Cricket is real cricket…but again..just to put things into perspective………
    Inzamam, Saeed Anwar, Javed Maindad were legends who excelled in both Tests and ODI’s…Recommend

  • http://www.wellpitched.com Q

    How do you judge Steve Waugh, who averaged only 32 in ODIs and scored only 3 centuries in ODIs? He averaged 50+ test average and 30+ test centuries..

    A batsman can be a great batsman and a legend of the game in test cricket. Similarly one can be a great batsman in ODIs. You don’t have to be good in both forms to be a great batsman.

    There is a list of great test batsmen, a list of great ODI batsmen, and a list of great T20 batsmen. Some may appear on more than 1 list. That’s all.

    Younis Khan will always be a great test batsman and an average ODI player. As simple as that.Recommend

  • YM

    I would say that Younas only plays well against Bengladesh and Zimbabwe. Check out his major innings. They will be only aginst weak teams. I have seldom seen him playing well in important tournaments.Recommend

  • Saad R

    Nice stats and analysis. Younis Khan is probably the only batsmen in the current Pakistani team that really knows how to construct a big innings.

    This seems to be the biggest difference between the grooming of young Indian and Pakistani batsmen. Where Kohli had the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Dhoni, Yuvraj. U. Akmal (and the rest of the young Pakistani batsmen) could only look for guidance towards players like Afridi, I. Nazir, M. Hafeez, Abdur Razzaq and I. Farhat – players not really known for their big inning tempraments.

    This has left Pakistan cricket in a conundrum again; Hafeez seeming (seaming) to be not good enough for Test cricket and no young Pakistani players ready (lacking experience and temperament) to take over the reigns from Misbah the keystone of the current Pakistani batting and team. Not looking forward to another dramatic decision by the PCB.Recommend

  • waqar

    @ hassan: Why you putting Sri Lanka and India in weak bowling line ups dude? I guess, you are lacking proper cricketing sense then. He scored runs against that sri lankan bowling attack which includes the all time great murlitharan and he scored centuries against india in india on their turning tracks facing harbhajan (who was on peak of his game during that time). He scored 5 centuries against india and sri lanka each because pak played test cricket against these opponents more than any other country in the last 8-10 years or so. He only scored 3 centuries out of 22 against weaker bowling attack like b’desh and zimbabwe. You declared him a “Non Legend” without doing any proper research on his records. So, for those who having cricketing knowledge and analytical skills, Younis Khan IS a LEGEND.Recommend

  • malik

    @Author

    You should also exclude UAE from the list. They are as good as home grounds, flat and helpful only to full-sleeved offspinners.Recommend

  • http://www.wellpitched.com Q

    @YM: The last table is YK in matches not involving Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.. only matches away from Pak that Pak won. Including all games without Bang and Zim, YK has scored over 6,000 runs at an ave of 49.4 with 19 centuries. He averages above 40 against all opposition, except Australia.Recommend

  • http://www.wellpitched.com Q

    @malik: Taking the UAE out actually improves YK’s performance.

    All matches played away: 4,028 runs at an ave of 50.35
    Matches won away from home: 2,025 runs at an ave of 106.57
    In matches not involving Zim and Bang: 1,236 runs at an ave of 112.36

    So taking the UAE out puts YK above everyone else including Sir Don Bradman!Recommend

  • RealityCheck

    @Q: Show me his STATS outside subcontinent i.e. excluding Pakistan, U.A.E., India and Sri Lanka. What is Younis Test average in Australia, South Africa, England, New Zealand and West Indies?Recommend

  • http://www.wellpitched.com Q

    @RealityCheck: People will stop at nothing will they? I’ll give you those stats, but let me tell you, if you think batting on Indian and Sri Lankan pitches is easy against their bowlers, you are mistaken. Just see what happened to Australia there recently..

    Anyhow.. YK averages in tests in countries you mentioned:

    Aus: 43.2
    SA: 32.6
    Eng: 53.2
    NZ: 65.3
    WI: 23.4

    He has test centuries in all those countries except Australia..Recommend

  • Bilal

    Srilanka has weak bowling attacks… lol Recommend

  • Bilal

    @Hassan

    Srilanka has weak bowling attacks… lol Recommend

  • hassan

    Younis Khan’s overall batting average

    Countries with good pace attack

    vs Australia 31.83
    vs England 43.55
    vs South Africa 42.45
    vs West Indies 38.94

    Countries with nominal pace attack

    vs Bangladesh 83.60
    vs India 88.06
    vs New Zealand 60.50
    vs Sri Lanka 49.12
    vs Zimbabwe 83.60

    (Younis is one of most gentleman cricketers in the cricket world. You can call him a legend on that account. A rare Pakistani cricketer who has conducted himself impeccably on and off the field.)Recommend