ISLAMABAD: Former Test star Saqlain Mushtaq has asked Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to avail expertise of erstwhile batting legend Younis Khan by involving him in some sort of responsibility.

“The PCB should involve such a person, who has so much self-confidence and resilience,” Saqlain said on his YouTube channel. “Everybody praised his work ethics and work discipline. Younis is hardworking and wants [to produce] results. He wants to do something. He wants to win. I think the PCB should involve him so that he can transfer all this [his skills] to the coming generation,”

The 43-year-old Saqlain, who picked up 208 wickets in 49 Tests and 288 wickets in 169 One-day Internationals, recalled the time when Younis made debut against Sri Lanka in 2000, scoring a scintillating hundred in his maiden Test.

“I was made captain of President XI for a side match against the visitors and Younis was also in the squad,” he said while recollecting how the local side suffered a defeat. “Later on we played another match on the same day during which Younis was outstanding in the field. I was surprised to see the confidence of this novice player.

“Younis took two captivating catches besides running out a batsman with a direct hit from the boundary. I was compelled to think that this chap has something very special about him.

“And when we batted [needing something like 80 to 85 in last 10 to 12 overs], I saw Younis walking around anxiously in the dressing room. Sitting in one corner [of the dressing room] I was trying to note what the young players who were playing were doing. Younis came to me and said: ‘Captain! Send me I will win this match for my team Insha’Allah. I told him we are pretty well at the moment. But after one over, he again came with the same request.

“I decided to send him in next. What transpired amazed me as Younis played with consummate ease and we won with him returning unbeaten.”

Saqlain recalled: “After we won the match, [Sri Lankan captain] Sanath Jayasuriya came to me and said: ‘Buddy who is this boy?’ I told him I didn’t know much about him either at that point. But Sanath remarked that this boy is someone very special.”

Saqlain revealed the PCB sought his opinion about the new players after the game. “Without any hesitation, I told them that Younis is a big-match player who will surprise everyone.

“Here I must say Younis wasn’t included in the Pakistan team on my recommendations. It was his hard work, playing-skills, confidence and self-belief that earned him a place.

“The selectors included him in the squad and he hit a century on Test debut. From there he never looked back and kept on piling runs.

“I will always pray for him and wish he keeps on bringing laurels for Pakistan in some other capacity,” the pioneer of doosra concluded.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2020

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