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Crown of thorns

cricket Updated: Dec 08, 2007 04:15 IST
Rohit Mahajan
Rohit Mahajan
Hindustan Times
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Shortly before the two captains were to be presented before the media, the bare, extremely unostentatious hall was drowned by darkness a power failure. Rather apt, for after a night of speculation, and after official insistence that Younis Khan would indeed lead Pakistan in the third Test despite his reluctance, the circumstances remained benighted, the speculation unabated.

Then Younis Khan appeared, right from the nets, his face lit up by beads of perspiration and his habitual good cheer ending conjecture over whether he would be captain for the third Test.

Asked about the night of rumours, including those filtering out from the Pakistan camp, which suggested that he had decided not to captain Pakistan at Bangalore, he seemed open-faced and forthright. He declared that he’s not really keen to be captain but will do the job until Shoaib Malik recovers from his ankle injury. <b1>

“As long as I play, this will happen… I try to run away from the captaincy, but it keeps following me!” he said, making the hall ring with laughter.

“Captaining India or Pakistan means that your life is destroyed!” he added. “I try to smile and be relaxed, but my performance is affected whenever I am captain. The more I run away from it, the more captaincy keeps coming back.”

If that’s so, why doesn’t he give up the vice-captain’s duties?

“For this tour, I was requested to be vice-captain because it was such an important tour,” he said. “I like to take on challenges so I accepted it.”

It seems some in the Pakistan camp agree completely with Younis they are equally keen he should be kept away from captaincy.

There had been speculation that Younis had been unhappy that though he wanted Abdur Rauf as a replacement pacer, he got Rao Iftikhar Anjum. Pakistan media manager Ehsan Malik said no, that was not so.

Younis, without going into the specifics, said: “A captain must get to select the team he wants, but he can’t bowl or bat for every player.”

“This is wrong in India and Pakistan, that a lot of pressure is put on the captain… But the more relaxed a captain, the more he can keep his nerves under control, the more successful he will be.”

Despite this, Younis’s own nerves, after a night of strange speculation, seemed far from frayed perhaps the bad news in the Indian camp cheered him.