Pakistan skipper Younis Khan is obviously a believer. On Tuesday night, after Pakistan beat Sri Lanka in a passionate, down-to-the-wire game that set the Champions Trophy alight, Younis said that whatever anyone else thought, he never stopped believing. In his players, in Pakistan’s chances and in God.
In the opinion of most, Pakistan, who have been through one sordid controversy after another, stood little or no chance of beating the rampaging Lankans, who had just beaten defending champions West Indies in emphatic fashion. But Younis said their latest crisis, the drug fiasco over Shoaib Akhtar and Md Asif, only served to band his faction-ridden team together. All the players were very keen to do well during this time of crisis, said Younis.
We are fasting together, we’re playing together as a unit and we’re committed to putting up a brave performance in the Champions Trophy.
Despite observing rozas (fasts) every day, we have been playing a hard game of cricket inside the ground, said a visibly happy Younis after the game.
Younis said that unlike some of his team-mates who were both stressed and rather low after the events of the last 24 hours, he was able to sleep peacefully the night before the game.
He attributed it to an unswerving faith in God. I have always said that being a true Muslim, I always believe that Allah will support us though difficult times. Today too, I am thankful to the Almighty to have given us such a wonderful victory under tough circumstances, said Younis.
On a prosaic level, he said their strategy paid off. We had a definite gameplan going into the match and it worked. All the senior batsmen --- Md Yousuf, Abdul Razzaq and I --- were instructed to play their normal attacking game. Out-of-form batsmen like Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal were given specific instructions to stay at the middle for longer. In the end, even though I failed to contribute, all the rest stuck to their task and gave us a very proud win, he added.
Man-of-the-match Razzaq admitted incidentally, that he wasn’t all that happy about coming down the order. But he said he had become philosophical about it by now. I have always said I'm not properly utilised by my captains. I only get to bat in the dying overs. Having said that, I can also understand their position --- having to make their decisions keeping in mind the team requirements. So I am happy to do whatever is expected of me.
Both Younis and Razzaq avoided questions on the doping controversy but admitted the win had
reduced the intense pressure on them for the remaining Trophy games. A lot of questions would have been chased us if we had lost. But this victory will ensure that we keep focus on the game itself.