Waheed Mirza – the eye that saw Younis Khan’s batting reach

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Waheed Mirza is ecstatic for Younis Khan as he reached the milestone of 10,000 Test runs. “I was definitely the happiest person when he scored his 10,000th run,” he told with eyes full of pride. “I am proud of his achievement. I believe he can still score much more, he has still got the fuel,” he added. Mirza is the one who identified the hidden potential in Younis Khan.

Younis Khan has never been a textbook batsman, neither he is completely unorthodox, he has his uniqueness which makes him special. A batsman who hops and jumps around the crease can easily be overlooked. But, it was Mirza’s knowledge of the game that spot the future legend in him. The then Malir Gymkhana’s captain-cum-coach, Waheed Mirza, met him in his under 19 days. Steel Mill’s player Mohammad Ali, who is still regarded high by the legend himself and he gives him the credit to bring him to professional cricket brought him to Malir Gymkhana for trials. However, Mirza noticed a feature of his batting that no one else did.

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Younis Khan plays a sweep shot.

The club had one spot vacant and there were two batsmen, Younis Khan and Nazeem Abbasi, competing for that position. As a result, he played them both in a game and made it like a trial. Nazeem outshined Younis Khan by scoring a convincing century, whereas Khan only managed 40 odd runs. In 90 out of 100 such occurrences, the centurion would have been selected, but it was one of the rare occasions. “I selected Younis for his batting reach, I loved his reach, he could middle any length from the crease due to his reach and that is what makes him special,” he shared. Knowing this fact now, his batting technique makes more sense. He can drive the ball when his front foot is not even close to the delivery, he is the best sweeper in the cricket fraternity because of his unusual reach. This trick of the trade is usually unknown to people, but it was the core quality that inspired Mirza.

The one half of a first-class world-record opening stand, has been an admirer of the veteran middle-order batsman since his early days. According to him, Khan has always been a well-behaved kid, passionate about the game, a great listener and loyal to what he was doing. “He was a young passionate fun loving guy and extremely disciplined, I never got any complaint against him, he never misbehaved and always respected his seniors, which eventually made him a great of the game.

“He never complained about anything, I played him from opening position to no. 9 in the club but he never protested. I changed his positions to make him a complete player who can bat in any situation and the result is evident now.”

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Younis Khan never complained about anything.

Mirza had a firm believe that Khan will become a great of the game. His upright attitude, respect for the game and determination helped him achieve everything. Despite of he being treated unjustly in Karachi, the club’s coach knew that he will wear the Green cap soon. “Younis Khan was destined to become a legend,” he told. “I never had a doubt that he will not be a test cricketer. He was ignored by Karachi’s selectors while selection of city’s team and they justified it by calling him over aged. I challenged the then selection committee that he will play Test for Pakistan in the next six months. I, with the advice of Rashid Latif, sent him to Peshawar to play domestic cricket where he performed brilliantly and got selected in the national team.”

Even after becoming a Test player, Mirza did not stop mentoring the mesmerizing batsman. In his early days of international career, he used to struggle against inswinging deliveries. Pakistan’s coaching staff tried to solve this problem but failed to do so. Rashid Latif, who was team’s captain at that time, knew Mirza could help Khan. He asked him to come to nets to help the batsman. “I identified the problem that he was coming across the stumps and falling over. I asked him to play the off stump line with bat, which will help him negotiate inswinging deliveries better. It helped him a lot and he fell LBW fewer times afterwards.”

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Younis Khan plays a shot.

Apart from Younis Khan the cricketer, Waheed Mirza has all praise for the legend as a human being. Despite of being the highest Test scorer for Pakistan, there is absolutely no change in his attitude, he is still humble, down to earth and respects people who helped him. “Younis Khan is the kindest human being I have come across. He is a class cricketer, moreover, he is a greater human being, which has contributed in his success,” he told about the legend. “He is a man of values, he does not tolerate injustice and stands firm for justice,” he added.

“He still respects me a lot, I have just shown him the way and nothing more, but he his attitude is heartwarming,” he went on to say,” he further stated.

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Younis Khan’s fist bump with Fawad Alam.

The 61-year old recalled one of his most memorable incidents with Younis Khan when he came to meet him at his place. “Younis Khan was in Karachi when I called him, he could not receive it so he called me back. I told him I am Waheed Bhai and wanted to meet you when you will be at home. He showed immense respect and asked me my address, he said I will be there in 30 minutes’ and in the next half an hour he was here at my house. He never shows how big a star he is.”

Mirza believes that Younis Khan will have the same stature in Pakistan’s cricket history as the batting maestro Javed Miandad. He thinks that Khan will have a significant place in history, probably as the best batsman Pakistan has ever produced.

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Younis Khan will probably be remembered as the best batsman Pakistan has ever produced

Younis Khan has announced retirement and this ongoing Test series will be his last international assignment. However, Waheed Mirza wants Younis Khan to continue playing for a couple of years as he is extremely fit. Moreover, he feels that departure of team’s skipper Misbah ul Haq and Younis Khan together will create a huge vacuum that cannot be filled in near future. “Misbah and Younis should not retire together, they have been the backbone of the team, if they leave cricket together, the team will struggle to get even 100 runs in Test matches.”

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