Four reasons why sending Younus Khan as an opener is justifed

Published: February 24, 2015

Younis Khan raises his bat and helmet as he celebrates after scoring a century against South Africa. PHOTO: AFP

We have been seeing a lot of undue criticism directed towards the decision of choosing Younus Khan as an opener in the matches against India and West Indies.

But if we were to take a moment and try to understand the decision, we would see that the management had sound reasons to choose Younus.

His experience

Younus was included in the squad on the basis of his Test performance, his overall experience and his ability to deal with pressure. All of these traits were needed to defeat India. Pakistan had to find an effective combination for its openers, so sending Younus in to cope with the pressure seemed prudent. His dismal performance that followed was not expected.

Photo: Express Tribune

No one else to replace as opener

Our middle-order trio – Harris Sohail, Umar Akmal and Sohaib Maqsood – were all in good shape and had displayed their “skills” during the side matches, so sending one of them as openers would not have done well either. Similarly, the team couldn’t have more batsmen as we had to play with five bowlers, which left slots for only six batsmen – including a wicket-keeper.

Younis Khan pulled off a blinder at cover, Pakistan v New Zealand, 3rd ODI, Sharjah, December 14, 2014. Photo: AFP

A dependable player

Another reason why Younus was chosen as an opener was because of the fact that the Pakistani squad was missing a dependable opener, a position which could not have been filled by either of the middle-order trio.

If we had decided to play Younus at number three, we would have had to drop one of our middle-order batsmen, probably Sohaib, and that would have been unwise as his run rate and his performances against Bangladesh and England prove.

Younus Khan was named the ‘Cricket World Player Of The Week’ after scoring two centuries in Pakistan’s 221-run win over Australia in the first Test in Dubai in October, 2014. Photo: Reuters

No substitutes

The options for openers were Nasir Jamshed and Sarfraz Ahmed. Jamshed has only played one practice match before the World Cup in which he got out off side. He also has a poor record on seaming and bouncing pitches. In Asia, he scored three centuries against India but failed to score when he faced arch rivals in the Champions Trophy 2013, which was played in England.

Sarfarz, on the other hand, has not clicked in any of the matches before the World Cup. He has previously opened twice – against New Zealand and Bangladesh – but failed both times due to his dismal performance.

Younus Khan plays a shot during the first day of the opening Test match against Sri Lanka at the Galle International Cricket Stadium in August last year. Photo: AFP

In my opinion, sending Younus as an opener was not a bad or dumb decision. We have seen teams like Sri Lanka sending Kumar Sangakara and Mahela Jayawardene, and India sending Rahul Dravid as openers when they did not have any option left, and these openers performed well.

All those who are criticising the decision of letting Younus open should suggest better options, or otherwise not speak at all.


Ammar Rajar

An MBA marketing student at Szabist. Ammar tweets as @AmmarRajar.

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