Yousuf replaces Younis as Pakistan test captain
Middle-order batsman Mohammad Yousuf replaced Younis Khan as Pakistan captain for the test series against New Zealand, the Pakistan Cricket Board said Wednesday. "Mr. Younis Khan has requested a break from international cricket and hence will skip test series against New Zealand," the PCB said. "Mr. Yousuf has been named captain and (wicketkeeper) Kamran Akmal as his deputy." After rejecting his resignation last month, the PCB appointed Younis as captain through the 2011 World Cup, provided he remains fit and in form. Pakistan lost a limited-overs series to New Zealand 2-1 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Monday, sparking criticism of Younis before the three-test series begins in New Zealand later this month. Former test cricketers had questioned Younis' leadership qualities as Pakistan surprisingly left out Yousuf from the series decider against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi. Younis himself could score only 0, 19 and 3 in the three innings as Pakistan batsmen struggled on placid wickets of Sheikh Zayed Stadium. There were also reports of rift between Younis and some of the senior players soon after Pakistan lost in the semifinals of the Champions Trophy - also against New Zealand - last month. Shahid Afridi, Younis' deputy in one-dayers, had said few players had problems with Younis and he had informed both PCB chairman Ijaz Butt and Younis about this. Younis replaced Shoaib Malik as captain after Pakistan lost the one-day series against Sri Lanka at home earlier this year. He responded with a triple century in his first test as regular Pakistan skipper in Karachi before the Sri Lankan team had to cut short its visit when gunmen attacked the team bus in Lahore on the third day of the second test on March 3. Under Younis' leadership, Pakistan lost the one-day series against Australia in the United Arab Emirates and also lost both limited overs and test series in Sri Lanka. However, Younis successfully led Pakistan to victory in the Twenty20 World Cup before he quit the shortest format of the game and Afridi was named captain for T20. Former test skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq, who had also criticized Younis for the defeat against New Zealand, said it was PCB's good decision to make Yousuf the captain. "If Younis feels he needs rest he should be given an opportunity," Inzamam told Express television. The 35-year-old Yousuf had previously led Pakistan in three test matches. Under his captaincy, Pakistan beat South Africa at home by eight wickets in 2003 before losing both test matches to Australia - in Melbourne in 2004 and in Sydney in 2005. In 2006, Yousuf scored nine test centuries in a year and broke Viv Richards' world record of most test runs in a year by making 1,788 runs. He has scored 7,023 runs in 82 test matches at an impressive average of 54.86 with 24 centuries. "Yousuf should have been made captain after 2006. But even now, after three years, the PCB has made the right decision," former chief selector Abdul Qadir told the Associated Press. "I hope Yousuf manages to unite the team." Last month, Lower House's Standing Committee on Sports cleared the Pakistan team of any wrongdoing in Champions Trophy defeats to Australia and New Zealand. However, Younis tendered his resignation in the wake of false match-fixing allegations. The PCB reinstated Younis as captain, but Qadir said Younis shouldn't have changed his mind. "I was not expecting Younis to take back his resignation," Qadir said. Outspoken former test fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz said Younis had run out of options after a poor performance against New Zealand in the one-day series. "He had no other option but to step aside," Nawaz said. "He should now resign as a player, too." On Tuesday, Nawaz said Younis should have sacrificed his spot and allowed Afridi to lead Pakistan in the last ODI against the Kiwis.