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In two years Younus Khan has gone from shunning the captaincy of Pakistan's cricket to being hailed Thursday as its saviour after his epic 313 runs in the first Test against Sri Lanka this week.

The 31-year-old Younus's marathon innings of 12 hours and 48 minutes not only helped Pakistan draw the match but elevated him to the top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) batsmen's rankings.

But more than his batting, Younus's fearless attitude and positive approach suggests he is the man to lead Pakistan cricket out of a turbulent period.

Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif expressed great confidence in Younus.

"Younus taking the responsibility and leading from the front augurs well for Pakistan cricket. He doesn't demand respect, he commands it and this is the best quality for a captain," said Latif, widely regarded as Younus's mentor.

Wasim Akram, another former Pakistan captain, believes Younus can bring home the laurels.

"Younus showed that records matter less and team comes first. I think if he stays as captain, Pakistan can win the 2011 World Cup," said Wasim.

He was referring to two records that came within striking distance for Younus this week -- Hanif Mohammad's Test score of 337 runs for Pakistan in 1958 and Brian Lara's world record of 400 in 2004.

Many believed Younus would never lead Pakistan again after he turned down an offer of the captaincy following team's shock first-round defeat in the 2007 World Cup held in the West Indies.

Pakistan also lost their admirable coach, Bob Woolmer, who died in the team's Jamaica hotel following their humiliating defeat against minnows Ireland.

Left with no choice, cricket authorities inducted young Shoaib Malik, who failed to get along with seniors as problems mounted for Pakistan.

Some top players, including ace batsman Mohammad Yousuf, were unavailable for selection after they joined the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL), and the team continued to fare poorly at international level.

Pakistan's 2-1 defeat in the one-day series against Sri Lanka last month forced the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to replace Malik with Younus.

Younus also resigned from the captaincy before the Champions Trophy 2006, saying he did not want to be a "dummy" captain. But he accepted the role after a change in the PCB set-up the next day.

This time around, Younus, who was also reluctant to lead Pakistan on a tour of India when Malik was injured in 2007, was more determined.

"This is our team and we will have to work hard to lift it. I don't fear losing; if we lose I will make no excuses but everyone must support us," said Younus after accepting the captaincy.

"I am straightforward, open minded and will not let the team spirit down. We have to build this team and even if we lose some key players, it will not sag our spirits because you can't have seniors with you all the time."

Latif said Younus will provide Pakistan with back-up players.

"His heart is clean and he truly wants to help Pakistan cricket. For him, a senior and a junior player are the same and he will also prepare back-up players for the future. For him, the team is like his family," said Latif.

Younus has also supported his real family after losing two of his brothers, one in an accident, a sister and his father in the last five years.
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