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Younis aims for hat-trick of centuries

Calcutta: Eden Gardens has always been a happy hunting ground for Younis Khan. In the two Test matches he has played here, the former Pakistan captain scored 147 in the first innings in 2005 and 107 not out in the second innings in November 2007.

Come Thursday and it will be Younis’ chance to score a hat-trick of centuries in what would be his first one-day International at the venue.

“I will aim to give off my best... Inshallah, I will get my third century here on Thursday… But I hope I play an innings that will help Pakistan seal the series,” Younis told the Pakistan media on Tuesday.

The one-day series has marked a comeback of sorts for Younis and the 35-year-old said there was no pressure on him to perform at the Motera.

“There was no pressure even before the ODI. It was my comeback match but there was no pressure… It was not as if I didn’t score, I would not play the next game,” Younis, who scored a solid 58 in Chennai said.

“I always try and improve my game to a level so that I can tell youngsters how to play.”

Younis was all praise for young pacer Junaid Khan, whose four-wicket haul played a key role in their six-wicket victory in Chennai.

“Good to see him the way he’s performing consistently, it’s a good sign for him and the team… If he continues in the same vein, we can get another great left-arm pacer in the Wasim Akram mould.

“The best part about him is that he’s not thinking about the past and only about the present. He’s always trying to improve… Pakistan always has a trend of producing good left-arm quicks,” he explained.

What will be the team’s approach going into the second one-dayer? “We all try to prepare ourselves in the best possible manner. We don’t have big names but the spirit within the team is always special when up against India. They always try and achieve something.

“Both teams have a lot of youngsters trying to prove their mettle. That has added flavour to the series,” Younis, a veteran of 79 Tests and 246 ODIs said.

The senior pro said the team was backing the youngsters and it's a good time to be in.

“I always try to guide the youngsters. We all believe in sharing. Good teams are those who share the good and bad times.

“We always share our thoughts in the dressing room… We always back the ones who are in bad form and don’t put them under pressure. I always think of ways to improve my own game along with the team…”

Was there was any pressure on the players in Chennai after the loss in the second Twenty20 game in Ahmedabad? “There was no pressure in the dressing room,” said Younis.

“We did discuss the match and focus on not repeating the same mistakes.

We were hell bent on carrying the momentum forward… Misbah-ul Haq ensures there’s no pressure and backs everyone when the going gets tough.”

There was a sense of purpose in the way the Pakistanis went about their first practice session at the Eden on Tuesday.

While the Indians decided to skip their session because of late arrival of some of their players following flight delays, Pakistan sweated it out for close to three hours.

Mohammed Irfan, Junaid Khan and senior pro Umar Gul went full throttle at the team’s nets.