One of the modern legends of the game, Younis Khan has been dropped from the Pakistan ODI side for the series against Australia. This was just after he was recently recalled to the one-day side. While the veteran wasn't given a long enough rope to resurrect his one-day career, the Pakistan selectors have made it clear that they have decided to look to the future as far as ODIs is concerned, and that Khan is past. This despite Khan expressing his desire to feature in next year's mega event. The selectors' decision may have killed off Younis' hopes.
While he may never have been a one-day great, like in Tests, Younis was a prominent feature for over a decade, and was the steadying factor in the middle-order. In a constantly underperforming team, he was consistent with the bat without always being a match-winner. His average of 31 over more than 200 ODIs doesn't do justice to his talent, but he was never a natural in the shorter format. The fact that he played so many ODIs and managed to even lead the side is a tribute to his hard work. Remember, it was under him that Pakistan won the 2009 World T20.
Although he may be past his prime in one-dayers, his axing will leave a massive vacuum in the middle order. After all, Pakistan's batting order remains fragile as ever. In spite of being in the side for so many years, the experienced Mohammad Hafeez has not not been able to deliver what has been expected of him. The likes of Khurram Manzoor, Asad Shafiq and even Umar Akmal are all talented, but have failed to rise to the challenge. And, last but not the least, Shahid Afridi, the most experienced of them all still cannot be depended upon.
Under the circumstances, one is made to wonder how smart the move to drop Khan is. He just scored a big hundred recently in a Test match, which indicates that he isn't out of form. Also, he wasn't given a long enough rope to prove his worth on his recall to the ODI side, which was very recently. With the World Cup only a few months away, the selectors have to take a call on who will play and who wouldn't. But, recalling and dumping a legend in such a manner is rather insulting. Khan deserved better for the amount he has done for the country, but this is how Pakistan cricket functions.
One of the reasons the selectors might have decided to overlook Khan is because they perhaps didn't want a daddy's arm at the World Cup. Remember, their skipper is 40 plus, Afridi is in his mid-30s, officially, and Hafeez too has crossed 30. In such a situation, having another veteran would have seemed too much for the selectors. But, the bigger and more persistent question is, can the youngsters chosen above Khan perform? As of now, Khan's chances of featuring in next year's World Cup are extremely remote. But then, you never know -- anything can happen in Pakistan cricket after all.
--By A Cricket Analyst