KARACHI: Younis Khan and his men have been basking in the glory of a historic World Twenty20 triumph since returning home from England earlier this week, writes Khalid Hussain.
But the Pakistan captain made it clear on Friday that the time for celebration is over and his boys will now have to divert their full attention on what he described as a tough tour of Sri Lanka starting from Saturday (today).
Younis made the announcement at a reception hosted by Habib Bank (HBL) president Zakir Mehmood in which he and three other team-mates were showered with praise and cash awards.
“We will have to leave our world cup win behind and focus on the series against Sri Lanka,” declared Younis, who masterminded Pakistan’s successful campaign in the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 championship in England earlier this month.
“The Sri Lanka tour will be a huge challenge,” said the skipper. “The celebrations become a matter of the past when you embark on the next tour, so I hope players get in the different mood soon.”
Pakistan are to play three Tests, five One-day Internationals and Twenty20 International against Sri Lanka during the tour that will end on August 12.
Younis said that his team could be under pressure in Sri Lanka after winning the world crown by beating Kumar Sangakkara’s men at Lord’s in the grand finale.
“It will be double pressure on us because our people want wins in every match and after the T20 success they want more success and that can put pressure on us, but we are ready for it,” he stressed.
History is on Pakistan’s side as they defeated Sri Lanka on both their previous tours but Younis warned that the hosts would be tough to beat this time.
“Sri Lanka have a wise captain in Sangakkara and their team is balanced with quality players, so we will have to be at our best to get good results in the series,” he said.
Pakistan have been bolstered by the return of two senior stars — Mohammad Yousuf and Abdul Razzaq — who were previously banned by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) because of their links with the Indian Cricket League.
Yousuf and Razzaq were recalled in the national team after they broke ties with the unofficial Twenty20 league along with several other Pakistani cricketers.
Yousuf is regarded as one of the world’s most prolific batsmen and is likely to strengthen Pakistan’s middle-order in Sri Lanka. Razzaq is a seasoned all-rounder, who made his Pakistan comeback in the World Twenty and gave a good show including a three-wicket haul in the final against Sri Lanka.
Younis said that Pakistan will benefit a lot from the duo’s experience. “They are very experienced players and will certainly give us a lot of confidence in the series against Sri Lanka,” he said.
Pakistan will also have leg-spinner Danish Kaneria back for the first time since the tour of India in 2007.
Younis welcomed his return. “Kaneria gives us variety and alongwith Saeed Ajmal supplements our spin bowling, so it will be a keen contest between two balanced teams and I hope it will be a great series,” he said. The Pakistan captain stressed that Test cricket is the purest form, adding that a player’s true worth can be gauged by his performance in the longest version of the game.
“Twenty20 cricket was different. Test cricket seriously tests the abilities of a player whereas I don’t think the abilities of a player can be gauged in a T20 match.