Pakistan’s cricket team has always found itself in a fix. Pakistani bowlers have never given the team management (or the nation for that matter) nightmares yet the same cannot be said about the batting side. Pakistan’s middle order batting line-up has always bore the brunt of the opening batsmen’s failures. And none can rival the feats of Pakistan’s ex ODI cricket captain and current Test captain Misbah ul Haq.
Calm, composed and always in control. Misbah ul Haq always stayed at the crease when his contemporaries departed with cheap dismissals. Often frustrating the opposition’s bowlers (and the nation as well) with his slow, cautious knock, Misbah weaved a strategy only few could understand. The cricket crazy nation which preferred Shahid Afridi’s bamboozling innings, which most of the times, resulted in a dismal performance, to Misbah’s sensible and prudent batting.
Ever since he was handed the reigns of Pakistan’s cricket team after the spot fixing debacle which rendered Mohammad Asif, Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir useless for Pakistani cricket, Misbah was chosen to become the mercurial team’s captain. With perhaps Pakistan’s inconsistent, mercurial and unpredictable cricket team needed exactly that; a serene and dependable captain, who defied even the toughest of cricket oppositions from around the world.
Whether or not it was his business management degree which helped him manage the turbulent Pakistani team or he was a born leader, Misbah led his troops to many glorious victories. In 2007, Pakistan faced India in the final of the first ever T-20 world cup tournament. Things looked troubling for Pakistan when Misbah took to the crease yet he turned the match around with another consistent knock. With Pakistan requiring 6 runs from the last 3 balls and only one wicket remaining, all eyes were trained on Misbah. In attempt to flick the ball backwards for a six, Misbah was dismissed all millions of Pakistanis around the world got disappointed.
In early 2012, his side whitewashed England 3-0 in a test series, at a time when England was the no.1 side in the world. Pakistan also trounced India in 2-1 in the bilateral series between the two arch-rivals which took place in India, from 2012-2013. In 2014, Pakistan became the first South Asian side under Misbah’s captaincy, who beat South Africa in a ODI series in South Africa.
Misbah ul Haq played 163 One Day Internationals but unfortunately, despite so many heroic innings, he wasn’t able to score a single century for Pakistan. Out of the 162 ODIs that he played, Captain Cool scored 42 50s at an average of 43.40 runs. He has, till date played in 55 Test matches and has scored 8 hundreds, whilst maintaining an impressive average of 49.18 runs. Misbah also equalled the record Viv Richards for the fastest test match hundred in the history of the game, when he scored a blistering century from 56 balls and took just 74 minutes to achieve the feat against a daunting Australian side. Despite Javed Miandad and Imran Khan, who played more Test matches than Misbah did, he broke both the legends records when he led Pakistan to the most number of victories; 15 test match wins.
Misbah ul Haq may be gone from Pakistan’s ODI cricket side but will always be remembered. His consistent, dependable and heroic knocks helped propel Pakistan to post a respectable margin on the scoreboard. He became an inspiration to a number of players, such as Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Ahmed Shehzad and Muhammad Irfan. After Imran Khan, Pakistan might yet not find another leader such as Misbah, who led from the front and let his bat do the talking!