India vs Pakistan, World Cup 2015: Younis Khan’s presence has muddled Pakistan thinkinghttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket-world-cup/2294527/world-cup-2015-younis-khans-presence-has-muddled-pakistan-thinking/

India vs Pakistan, World Cup 2015: Younis Khan’s presence has muddled Pakistan thinking

Senior pro does not find a place in the ODI XI and attempts to accomodate him is hurting the 1992 champion.

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Younis Khan was asked to open the batting on Sunday, but the senior player didn’t make an impression. (Source: AP)

This is not an attempt to write off the chances of Pakistan. But just a honest assessment of the thinking of the side at the World Cup. (Full Coverage| Venues | Fixtures)

The one thing that is making all the thinking in the Pakistan camp muddled is the presence of senior pro Younis Khan.

Here, the Indian players will relate to what the Pakistan side is going through.

Express at WC: V-Day on 15th Feb

Having a star player like Younis, who was a great asset to the side in the early 2000s is now proving to be a liability of sorts. Why else would the Pakistan camp make him open in an ODI for only the third time in his 262-match career?

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That’s because the Pakistan team clearly believes that Younis can be fitted in only as an opener. There is no other way for Younis to play an ODI anymore.

He is being persisted with purely because of his form in the Test series against Australia and New Zealand earlier in the season.

READ: An India-Pak story plays out again

Pakistan had made a conscious attempt to move on beyond Younis in the ODI format. But the confusion in dealing with good form of a player in one format, that perennial problem of the sub-continent, has cost Pakistan dearly. Younis kept scoring in the Tests, pushing everyone to restart his ODI career debate.

For well over a year in 2013-14, Younis was not being considered for the ODI format. There were several good reasons for that.

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Most importantly was his utility to the side. Pakistan had too many similar paced players in the line-up with the likes of Asad Shafiq and Misbah-ul-Haq also being present.

The other big problem was Younis’ ODI form. Before his knock of 103 against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi earlier in the ongoing season, his last ODI hundred was in November 2008. That makes it six years without an ODI hundred.

As a big match player and a player who sets the tone most often at the number three position, Younis was clearly not delivering. The Pakistan think-tank showed a lot of courage in leaving him out of the ODI planning. But then, like it often happens in the sub-continent, the self-styled critics took over.

Here, Pakistan selectors and the team management could have learnt from India.

In the last eight years, India has made brave moves in their selection of ODI squads. First, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid were dropped from the ODI squad in 2007-08. Then in 2012 onwards the senior pros like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh have been dropped too.

When the think-tank, rightly or wrongly, did not find utility in their plans for the senior pros, they were dropped. It is a matter of debate if the seniors would have made a difference. But the Indian think-tank was clearly moving on, resisting all kinds of pressure.

Sadly, that is not the case in Pakistan where pressure of having to deal with a player like Younis led to all-round confusion.

The matter was further compounded by stand-in wicketkeeper Umar Akmal dropping Virat Kohli. Umar is being forced to do a role because his brother Kamran cannot keep well and his other brother Adnan is not suited for ODIs.

Here’s where confusion in the ranks showed up again, because regular wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed is not only a handy batsman, but is also good with the gloves.

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This contrived attempt to get a balance has thrown the entire playing XI out of gear and will hurt Pakistan going ahead in the tournament.