Younis will be Pakistan’s key man against Aussies, says Intikhab

April 13th, 2009 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Shoaib Akhtar By Omar Khalid
Karachi, April 13 (IANS) Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam believes that the outcome of his team’s one-day games against Australia will largely depend on how captain Younis Khan will fare in the April 22-May 7 series in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Shortly before leaving for Dubai, Intikhab told Pakistan daily ‘The News’ that his team will be banking on Younis to deliver both as the captain and the main run-getter.

The 31-year-old Younis took over the reins of the team from Shoaib Malik at a time when Pakistan looked in complete disarray. There was little or no unity among the players and the team’s performance had touched rock bottom with a 234-run defeat against Sri Lanka in Lahore this January.

Less than ten weeks later, Pakistan is talking about a whitewash against the Aussies — still regarded as one of the world’s best teams.

“It’s all because of Younis,” says Intikhab Alam, the team coach. “He is such a positive man, a true leader who has injected a much-needed team spirit among the boys,” he said.

“For me, Younis will be our key man,” said Intikhab, who is hoping that his charges will put up a forceful show against the Aussies in the eagerly-awaited series that will include five One-day Internationals and a twenty20 game.

“As captain I expect him to lead by example and as our senior most batsman, he will have to be the backbone of our batting,” stressed the coach.

But Intikhab doesn’t think Younis will come under any kind of pressure. “He is not the sort of man who will crumble under pressure. The point is that he doesn’t come under pressure whatever the circumstances. That’s one of his most precious qualities,” said the 67-year-old former Pakistan captain.

Younis gave a big proof of that quality, when he scored a memorable 313 — a match-saving knock — in his first Test as captain against Sri Lanka in Karachi earlier this season.

Intikhab is expecting similar performances from the Mardan-born player in coming matches.

“Younis is the sort of captain who leads from the front. The whole team can revolve around him and that’s one factor which gives me a lot of optimism ahead of our UAE assignment,” he said.

Intikhab is hoping that other senior players like all-rounder Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar will also chip in with valuable contributions. “When playing against a top team like Australia you have to inevitably rely on the senior players,” he said.

Both Shoaib and Afridi have ceased to be match-winners in recent seasons but Intikhab says that they are both charged up for the forthcoming matches.

“Afridi is still a match-winner,” he said. “And Shoaib, too, can work wonders on his day.”

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