Younus thrives on positivity
Pakistan captain Younus Khan revealed he was advised against going out to bat on the second day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Karachi, but his decision has paid handsome dividends with the match now saved.
Younus struck a stirring, unbeaten 306 and forged century partnerships with Misbah-ul Haq and Faisal Iqbal as Pakistan reduced the gap on Sri Lanka's first innings score of 644 to just 70 runs at the end of the fourth day today.
Younus, who was installed captain last month in controversial circumstances, had walked out to bat after the fall of opener Salman Butt's wicket with just nine deliveries remaining on the second day.
Younus said his decision not to use a nightwatchman had drawn severe criticism then, but he believes it is the reason behind his long stay at the crease.
"When I went out to bat on the second day, a lot of people said it was stupid because there were only nine deliveries remaining in the day," he said.
"But I think I'm still batting after two days because of that move. In cricket, bravery is everything."
Younus, who reached his triple hundred with a reverse sweep shot off Muttiah Muralitharan, said friends and fans had pleaded with him not to use the stroke.
"Rather than look at the big picture, I took it session by session," Younus said.
"I set my own targets in each session and it worked well for me. Last night, I received a lot of calls from friends and former players - even my elder brother - asking me not to play the sweep and the reverse sweep shots.
"But against Murali, the reverse sweep is a safe option because he usually has a packed leg-side field and not many fielders on the off-side."
Pakistan's reply to Sri Lanka's huge first innings score had begun badly with the loss of Butt in the first 22 overs, but Younus said the plan of building partnerships had worked well.
"In the last couple of days we have been chatting about how to tackle the chase," he said.
"We have been telling each other that we have to bat long because the team needed such an innings.
"We have been focusing on building partnerships and the players have responded admirably.
"There were partnerships with Misbah, Faisal and then with Kamran in the final session today.
"We were in a tough position and as the senior most player in the team, more than being the captain, I had to put my hand up and do the job."
Younus had paced his innings admirably, adopting a safety-first approach at the start and never offering Sri Lanka a chance.
He said his decision to curb his strokeplay at the start was a conscious one.
"I'm the captain of this team and if I attempt a silly shot, some of the youngsters in the team would have tried it too," he said.
"So I really focused on the task and that's exactly what I wanted off the others as well, irrespective of whether they were senior or junior in the team.
"They have supported me and I've tried to pave the way for them so that they follow me.
"I think this is a crucial innings in terms of the game in Pakistan. The team needed it, but the game also needed it because we have been playing in front of empty stands for most of this Test.
"But we had a better crowd in the final session today and I think its because we played positive cricket.
"That is what is needed for Pakistan cricket at the moment."