‘I want to do what Sachin did in 2003’

Younis Khan declared himself fit for Saturday’s India clash, despite being advised four-weeks’ rest by doctors for a hairline finger fracture. Pakistan’s skipper was keen to grit his teeth, and play through pain because the game was such a significant one.

“Maybe if it wasn’t India, I would’ve skipped this match. I have been advised four weeks rest. I have a fracture and I need not play against India and Australia. If you don’t perform in a big tournament, you have to face the consequences, so it’s very easy for me to run away here,” said Younis, explaining why he decided to play.

“I am looking at the big picture. If I perform tomorrow, score a hundred and become man of the match, win the match for Pakistan, that will be remembered for long because I played with a broken finger. I needed to motivate myself for this. We’re all used to playing in pain, the self-motivation has to be there to get up and play for the country. I want to do something like Sachin did in 2003 (when he made 98 while battling pain), something for my country which they will remember for ages.”

After putting himself under considerable pressure by stating that he wanted to emulate Tendulkar, Younis tried to underplay the nature of the clash. “It will be a big game, but I want to take it as a normal game,” said Younis. “When you put a lot of pressure on yourself, you collapse. I am motivating my boys by telling them it is just another game. Whoever wins, cricket must win.”

Interestingly, while expressing genuine admiration for Tendulkar, Younis stressed neither he nor his team were scared of Tendulkar. “There is no fear. Sachin koi jin bhoot nahin hai,” said Younis, sending listeners into splits of laughter. “He is a great player and I like it when he scores runs because I learn something. There probably will be pressure on him because he is missing two top players in Yuvraj and Sehwag.”

While MS Dhoni agreed with Younis on the danger of talking up a particular game and putting pressure on yourself, he took a slightly different view of playing through injury.

“The determination is good but as an individual you have to see whether you can perform and resist and bear the pain for 100 overs because at the end of the day you don’t want to see the team playing with ten players,” said Dhoni. “If you get hit in the same area again you could miss three months of international cricket. In the short term it can be a benefit but in the long term it can be a major loss.”


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