A stroll through Younis Khan‘s recent statistics in Test cricket suggested nothing had changed. He had amassed a double-hundred in his last match. Now he had made a century. He had been scratchy early on, but was sublime by the end and Pakistan once again were in a position to dictate terms.
Except between his 218 against England in London and 127 against West Indies in Abu Dhabi, there were two months’ time away from the game. In September, he had contracted dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease that leaves the body weak and fatigued. “I lost six-seven kilograms,” he said at the post-match press conference at Sheikh Zayed Stadium. “But now I’m working on my weight and my fitness, so I will be 100% soon.”
Younis was not in shape to play the series opener in Dubai, which had also been Pakistan 400th Test, not to mention their first day-night Test. And coming into the second Test, he had to contend with a lack of match practice.
“I was a little worried because after the Oval Test [I had not played anything],” Younis said. “I wanted to play a couple of domestic games, which is always good for you. No matter how much you practice in the nets, you need game time.”
His illness did not allow that luxury. “But I got to play three or four matches for my club on cement wickets,” Younis said “They weren’t tough conditions, but I’m glad I played. Karachi was very hot at the time, and I struggled in the first match. But playing those three-four matches really helped me.”
Having come to the crease in the 14th over, Younis had looked set to bat out the day’s play when he slog swept an innocuous looking offbreak from part-timer Kraigg Brathwaite straight into the hands of deep midwicket. Before the next batsman could take guard, the umpires called for stumps citing bad light and Pakistan went in at 304 for 4.
After making his 33rd Test hundred, Younis credited his doctors, saying they “helped me recover quickly because usually, you don’t have any energy for one month after dengue. I think they took care of me very well, and that’s why I’m here right now.”
During the course of a 175-run stand, Younis and Misbah-ul-Haq became the owners of Pakistan’s most prolific partnership in Test cricket. When asked what the secret to their success was, he said: “I don’t know… there’s no secret. Maybe we’re the seniors, we have the responsibility to carry the batting line-up, although we have very nice and fantastic youngsters in the team, the responsibility is always there for us. So whenever we play together, we know that [getting] 200-300 is important for our team.
“Everybody knows that we like to take our time, and then suddenly [we go] after the spinners and sometimes against fast bowlers as well. So I think there’s no secret, it’s all about mental preparations.”