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Is Younis Khan the greatest Pakistani batsman?

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Younis_Khan_Pakistan_CricketYounis Khan will ride off into the sunset after the 3rd Test against the West Indies at Roseau. It has been a glittering career full of stupendous achievements. However, is he the greatest Pakistani batsman ever?

Obtaining an answer will be impossible and incomplete without statistics. He is the highest run scorer for Pakistan in Tests but that in itself does not make him the greatest as there were a lot more Tests played in his era as opposed to those in years gone by.

There are critics who will talk about the silken grace of Zaheer Abbas and the street fighting qualities of Javed Miandad. However, cricket matches are decided by runs and wickets and a statistical analysis must be made dispassionately without getting swayed by emotion. In addition to Zaheer and Miandad let us also consider the merits of Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam-ul Haq.

There are many parameters to be considered when deciding the greatest of all time. Some are batting average, batting average away from home, centuries scored, performance of each individual against the best team of their era, performance in the 4th innings in Tests where batting becomes extremely difficult, and where each batsman ranks among the greatest of his generation.

Inzamam played 1 Test for ICC World XI and that has been included in the statistical analysis. In the case of Younis, his career stats have been computed prior to the commencement of the 3rd Test against the West Indies. The following table gives the Test career stats of the 5 shortlisted batsmen.

 

Player

Tests

Runs

Bat Ave

100s

Tests taken for each 100)

Younis Khan

118

10046

52.32

34

3.44

Javed Miandad

124

8832

52.57

23

5.4

Inzamam-ul-Haq

120

8830

49.6

25

4.8

Mohammad Yousuf

90

7530

52.29

24

3.75

Zaheer Abbas

78

5062

44.79

12

6.5

 

Amongst the 5, Younis has the highest batting average away from home (49.15). Miandad, Zaheer, Yousuf and Inzamam have away batting averages of 45.8, 36.87, 44.88 and 45.91 respectively. Younis scores a century once every 3.44 Tests; this is a phenomenal rate. Yousuf, Inzamam, Miandad and Zaheer scored a century every 3.75, 4.8, 5.4 and 6.5 Tests respectively. So that is another area where Younis scores over his rivals.

For players who play at home in the sub-continent, batting in the 4th innings can be a very difficult proposition as the pitches start deteriorating rapidly, making batting extremely challenging. The following table gives the career performances of the 5 batsmen in the 4th innings in Tests.

 

Player

Runs scored in the 4th innings

Batting Average in the 4th innings

100s/50s

Runs scored in winning causes in the 4th innings

Younis Khan

1465

50.51

5/6

431

Inzamam-ul-Haq

867

37.69

1/6

355

Mohammad Yousuf

817

43

0/6

232

Javed Miandad

816

54.4

2/5

287

Zaheer Abbas

293

22.53

0/1

110

 

After the first 4 years of Miandad’s Test career, West Indies were indisputably the premier team of his era. That period also coincided with the latter part of the career of Zaheer Abbas. Both these stalwarts had underwhelming averages against the West Indies: 29.78 and 18.5 respectively. However, that cannot be held against them as the West Indies pace attack during that era was one of the greatest of all time and used to give most batsmen of that era sleepless nights.

During the careers of Younis, Inzamam and Yousuf, Australia were the best team and their bowling attack contained formidable bowlers like Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee and Shane Warne. This is one area where Younis towers over the rest like a colossus, with a batting average of 57.4 against Australia. In comparison, Inzamam and Yousuf averaged just 31.4 and 29.61 respectively. So that’s another feather in the cap of Younis Khan.

The last parameter to evaluate the 5 is to compare them with their peers. This will give a better understanding as to their stature as all-time greats. Most critics feel that bowling standards have deteriorated since 2000 and also the presence of teams like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh makes it easier for modern day batsmen to score runs. However, that is in no way the fault of modern day batsmen and they can only play the opposition that is put on the park.

Javed Miandad played his first Test on 9th October 1976 and played his last Test on 16th December 1993. If we take into account the runs scored by his contemporaries only during this period, he has a higher batting average than Sunil Gavaskar, Vivian Richards and Greg Chappell which is no mean achievement.

If we take a minimum 2000 run cutoff and do the same exercise for the other 4, then Zaheer Abbas ranks 14th, Inzamam also ranks 14th, Yousuf ranks 15th and Younis ranks 12th. So, this is one area where Miandad is clearly ahead of the pack and that also indicates that run scoring has indeed become easier post 2000.

If we now compare the performances of all 5, then Younis is ahead on most parameters. Miandad, by virtue of being top of the tree in his generation, follows him closely in 2nd place. Another point in favour of Younis is that he did not have the luxury of playing at home since 2009 as Pakistan were forced to play at neutral venues.

In conclusion, Younis can be considered the greatest Pakistani batsman and deserves a place in the pantheon of all-time great batsmen in Test history. We should appreciate his achievements and commend him for his longevity in an amazing career.

 

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