Cricket Statistics: Does Pakistan's Younis Khan Sit Among Test Cricket's Greats?

Tim CollinsFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2014

Pakistan's batsman Younis Khan  celebrates scoring a century during the first day's play of the first test cricket match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in Galle, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press

Younis Khan struck a serene hundred on the opening day of Pakistan's first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle, hauling the visitors away from disaster and into a strong position by stumps. 

After arriving at the crease at 19-2 following the wickets of Ahmed Shehzad and Khurram Manzoor, Younis then watched Azhar Ali fall just prior to the lunch interval to leave Pakistan on the precipice at 56-3. 

Thereafter, however, the 36-year-old controlled the day's play, striking 11 fours and a six to cruise to an unbeaten 133, enjoying assistance from Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq as the tourists reached 261-4 when bad light stopped play in the dying minutes of the afternoon. 

Given the volatility of Pakistan's batting lineup—a phrase so regularly used it's become a cliche in cricket's vernacular—Younis' calmly defiant performance was sublime. 

And it wasn't the first time we've seen such a display. Interestingly, however, the veteran right-hander is rarely mentioned when discussing the finest Test players of his era. 

Perhaps due to his team's inconsistency or the ongoing absence of international cricket in his homeland or the turmoil that engulfed his captaincy or the ever-growing dominance (financially and politically) of England, Australia and India that has rendered Pakistan something of a second-tier cricketing nation, Younis' outstanding record has been overlooked, lost in the crowd. 

Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press

At the very least, the prolific Pakistani is comfortably among the finest players ever to represent his nation at Test level.

In fact, with 7,532 runs, only Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq now sit ahead of him on the all-time run-scoring charts in the five-day game for Pakistan. By passing 131 on Wednesday, the right-hander moved ahead of former teammate Mohammad Yousuf. 

Leading Test Run-Scorers for Pakistan
PlayerMatRunsAveHS100s
Javed Miandad1248,83252.57280*23
Inzamam-ul-Haq1198,82950.1632925
Younis Khan907,53252.3031324
Mohammad Yousuf907,53052.2922324
Saleem Malik1035,76843.6923715
ESPN Cricinfo

Of course, Younis has never been as aesthetically pleasing as contemporaries such as Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis or Ricky Ponting.

But critiquing the appearance of the veteran's batting misses the point: He's been remarkably reliable despite his idiosyncratic style, a pillar of middle-order strength which Pakistan has built around for more than a decade.

Indeed, Younis has struck centuries in every country of the cricketing world bar Australia. Having thrived at home, in India, England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, the former captain has quickly come to terms with Pakistan's adopted home in the UAE, excelling on the neutral turf in the twilight of his career as well. 

Younis Khan's Test Batting Record by Country
CountryMatRunsAveHS100s
in Australia325943.16870
in Bangladesh4384128.00200*2
in England547052.221731
in India676876.802673
in New Zealand545765.28149*1
in Pakistan191,89859.313137
in South Africa848932.601111
in Sri Lanka1382745.94133*2
in UAE171,25844.921535
in West Indies521123.441061
in Zimbabwe551173.00200*1
ESPN Cricinfo

The hallmark of an elite international batsman has always been the ability to score all around the globe, in varying conditions and against contrasting attacks.

Despite being consistently overlooked when discussing the game's finest, Younis has done exactly that.

Younis Khan's Test Record at Home, Neutral and Away Venues
MatRunsAveHS100s
Home191,89859.313137
Neutral181,36745.561535
Away534,26752.0326712
ESPN Cricinfo

Unquestionably, the characteristic that has defined him more than any other has been his resilience when faced with adversity. 

Not one to simply hammer opposing bowlers on lifeless, batsmen-friendly tracks, the Pakistani has made a habit of accumulating runs in the crunch. 

Indeed, Pakistan have lost just five of the 24 Tests in which Younis has reached three figures.

Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press

Most telling, of course, is the 36-year-old's glittering record in fourth innings.

Tied with Sunil Gavaskar, Ricky Ponting, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Graeme Smith for the most hundreds in the final innings of a Test (4), Younis owns one of the game's finest ever records in the conditions that are typically most difficult for batsmen.  

Highest Test Averages in 4th Innings with 1000+ Runs
Player4th InnsRunsAveHS100s
Geoffrey Boycott341,23458.76128*3
Sunil Gavaskar331,39858.252214
Younis Khan301,11055.50131*4
Gordon Greenidge381,38353.19214*3
Graeme Smith411,61151.96154*4
Ricky Ponting431,46250.411564
Matthew Hayden391,28749.50101*1
Kumar Sangakkara311,11946.621922
Graham Gooch291,12144.841333
Desmond Haynes451,09243.68112*2
ESPN Cricinfo

On Wednesday, he once again displayed his propensity to thrive where others perish, rescuing Pakistan on yet another occasion. 

And given the strength of his Test record, perhaps Younis' name can be included when mentioning the roll-call of the game's finest batsmen. 

 

All statistics courtesy of ESPN Cricinfo.