Younis to lead Pakistan until 2011

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The Independent Online

After a week of uncertainty, some clarity for Younis Khan and Pakistan cricket emerged yesterday. Having volunteered to step down as captain of the national side last Tuesday over unfounded match-fixing rumours surrounding Pakistan's exit from the Champions Trophy, Younis (right) has now agreed to continue having been asked by the Pakistan Cricket Board's Ijaz Butt to lead the side until at least the 2011 World Cup.

"I am obviously very happy that the board has again [put their] confidence in me and asked me to continue on. The way the people have supported me throughout this issue, I will have to work harder now to satisfy them," Younis said.

A disgruntled Younis had offered his resignation after appearing before a parliamentary committee which cleared the Pakistan team of the match-fixing charges. He was angered by the taint of the allegations, which first surfaced in the Indian press after Pakistan lost a Champions Trophy match against Australia. There are also rumours of a group opposed to his leadership within the Pakistan team.

Butt said there was no reason to accept Younis's resignation as he had steered his team to victory in the Twenty20 World Cup in England, defeated India in a Champions Trophy group match and also qualified for the semi-finals of the tournament in South Africa. "With so many performances this year do you think he should be changed?" Butt asked reporters.

Younis and Butt are believed to have met privately last week, with the latter seeking to change the former's mind. Younis demanded certain assurances if he was to continue as captain: the streamlining of the selection process, an assurance of a lengthier tenure (which has been granted with the news he is to be captain until 2011) and also changes in team management.

Younis was made captain earlier this year, succeeding Shoaib Malik after a lost one-day series against Sri Lanka. Pakistan play three one-day internationals and two Twenty20 games against New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates next month before three Test matches in New Zealand.

*The Pro40 champions Sussex have been drawn in the same group as the new ECB Recreational XI in the inaugural ECB40 League, which begins next summer. The competition sees the 18 first-class counties placed randomly in three groups along with Scotland, the Netherlands and the Recreational XI, which is selected from players without full county contracts. Also in Group A are Somerset and Worcestershire, who finished second and third last season.

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