Dubai: Pakistan batsman Younis Khan was surprised Monday after selectors dropped him for the five-match one-day series against South Africa. The 35-year-old Khan said he's fitter than he was at 24 and was not happy about being left off the team for the 50-over format of the game.
"It was shocking news for me," Khan said. Khan is a veteran of 253 one-day internationals and has scored 7,014 runs, but was also ignored for the last ODI series against Zimbabwe. He retired from the shortest format of cricket in 2009 after leading Pakistan to victory at the World Twenty20 in England.
"These kinds of things have not happened to me for the first time," Khan said. "I am happy that someone has replaced me and if he performs ... I will be the first happy person." Khan said age had never been on his mind and said there were other former captains like Imran Khan and present captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who performed despite being on the wrong side of 30s.
"The day I feel I can't play I will be an honest man to leave, but not like this to get dropped," Khan said. "People feel that I don't want to play ... but it's not like that, I will leave with a bang and Inshallah (god willing) on a top level."
Khan could score only one in Pakistan's healthy total of 442 in the first innings of the first test last week as Pakistan went 1-0 up with a seven-wicket victory over South Africa.
He was together with Misbah, who hit a winning six in a short run-chase of 40, in the second innings after South Africa had reduced Pakistan to 7-3. Khan said he was reminding his teammates how the Proteas hammered them 3-0 in the test series in February and the conditions were ideal for them to make amends for the big loss.
"Our plan is very simple, play positive cricket and if they do mistakes we will grab those mistakes," Khan said. But Khan was wary of South Africa's comeback despite the fact that there were doubts about whether Hashim Amla would be back in time for Wednesday's test after flying back home to be with his expecting wife.
Fast bowler Dale Steyn is also nursing a hamstring injury he sustained during Sunday's practice session. "They have capability to come hard on us," Khan said. "I think in their culture it doesn't matter who is playing for them, the only thing that matters is how they play."