Younis Khan ‘available’ for T20 World Cup, SA series

Thursday, May 17, 2007

KARACHI: Former Pakistan vice-captain Younis Khan has confirmed his availability for the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa and a home series against the Proteas later this year, ‘The News’ learnt here on Wednesday, writes Khalid Hussain.

According to well-placed sources, a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official recently contacted the experienced batsman, who is currently in England, to talk to him about his future with the national team.

Younis assured the official that he was looking forward to making a comeback in the Pakistan squad at the end of the English County season after this summer. The Mardan-born player is currently playing for Yorkshire.Younis, who has scored 4291 runs from 53 Tests and 3988 runs from 151 ODIs, dropped a bombshell last month when he turned down a PCB offer to take over as the Pakistan captain following the resignation of former skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Younis said that he was unable to cope with the stress which he believed was a part and parcel of the job.It is, however, an open secret that Younis, who was groomed by Pakistan as their long-term future captain during Inzamam’s reign, had backed out following fears that some of the team’s senior players would gang up against him.

Younis, 29, signed a contract with Yorkshire and later made himself unavailable for a three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka to be played in Abu Dhabi from May 18-22. There was some speculation that Younis opted to stay away from the series because he was unhappy with the Pakistan Cricket Board’s move to appoint young all-rounder Shoaib Malik as the new Pakistan captain.

Whatever the reasons, his decision to skip the series raised doubts about his place in the Pakistan team which is why the Pakistan Cricket Board official approached him to discuss the player’s future plans.Sources say that Younis assured the official that he would be available for Pakistan’s next international assignment — the inaugural Twenty20 Cup in South Africa to be held in September.“Younis said that he wants to be a part of the Pakistan team for the Twenty20 World Cup and also for the home series against the South Africans in September-October,” said one source.

The official also asked him about his reasons for turning down the captaincy offer but Younis refrained from answering to the query, said the source.

However, Younis assured the official that he would have no problems playing under Shoaib Malik.In Inzamam’s absence, Younis led Pakistan in several matches but after an impressice debut as captain in 2005, his last such assignment — the 2006 Champions Trophy in India — ended in disaster for Pakistan.

By refusing to lead Pakistan, Younis has fallen out of favour with the top Pakistan Cricket Board officials but the fact that he is currently among the country’s most prolific batsmen makes him a player which they cannot afford to lose.

He is currently one of the best run-getters in this county season with a series of impressive knocks for Yorkshire including a match double of a hundred and a double ton.

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