By Obaid ur Rehman.
Pakistan Cricket has produced many greats who have played a vital role in winning important matches for Pakistan. Hanif Muhammad, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Muhammad Yousuf and Younus Khan are few names who gave a unique identity to Pakistan’s Cricket in international community. Apart from them, Pakistan Cricket has witnessed another legendary cricketer who, through his calmness, proved himself a legendary cricketer. He is the current Test captain of Pakistan and none other than Misbah-ul-Haq.
Misbah-ul-Haq made his debut in international circuit back in March 2001 against New Zealand. He could not retain his place in playing-eleven of both Test and ODI sides for long but he kept on working harder and gave impressive performances in domestic seasons while playing in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and for Faisalabad Wolves. In 2007, Misbah-ul-Haq made a comeback and toured South Africa for inaugural edition of World T20. No one was expecting that Misbah-ul-Haq will be included in the squad as he came from nowhere without having considerable international exposure. In contrary to expectations, Misbah-ul-Haq played really very well in a league match against India which resulted in a tie, and then presented his class by playing sensibly in the tournament. He scored a couple of fifties, gave major contributions and helped Pakistan in reaching the final against the arch rival India where Misbah-ul-Haq almost made it and world crown was inches away but unfortunately Pakistan couldn’t win it.
Since then, Misbah-ul-Haq has been playing important and sensible knocks for Pakistan. His extraordinary calmness in the field while batting gave him the controversial nickname as “Tukk-Tukk” on social media specially and people used to bash him for his slow innings-rate and defensive approach. One thing I must quote here is that it is always easy to judge someone on his apparent looks and approach, but what is behind the curtains, not everyone is capable enough to see that. With the fact that Pakistan has been lacking strong batting lineup for about a decade, it is because of Misbah-ul-Haq that some punctuality and a little bit of stability looks here in our batting camp. If Misbah-ul-Haq plays tukk-tukk, then it is because of earlier and quick fall of wickets from the top order due to which it becomes the need of time to play sensibly by saving wickets and to build a partnership.
Misbah-ul-Haq is the most successful Test Captain of Pakistan (Won 20 Matches)
Misbah-ul-Haq, inspite of massive criticism on his batting and defensive mindset, didn’t ever take it to his heart and remained focused towards his on-field goals. His constant great average in test cricket specially, started making critics to change their views about him and they finally realized that under the consequences when Pakistan badly lacks quality batsmen, Misbah, providing stability to batting lineup, plays perfect role. It is his unflappable temperament which is being reflected in his batting due to which he reached unprecedented levels of consistency in 2011 and then continued his best form. People who were once chanting tukk-tukk started praising Misbah’s defensive approach as a captain because at that time, Pakistan cricket needed exactly such a captain who could lead the green caps via sensible mindset.
2013 proved to be a best year for the skipper in ODIs as he finished the year as a Highest Scorer in a Calendar Year when he scored 1373 runs leaving behind Muhammad Hafeez on second spot with 1301 runs and Virat Kohli on third place with 1268 runs. He also owns the record of most ODI Half Centuries in a Calendar Year which were also scored in 2013 (15). In 2013, Pakistan toured South Africa, where under the leadership of Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan became the first ever Asian team to beat South Africa in South Africa in an ODI Series (Pakistan won 2-1). Misbah also holds the record of scoring most no. of ODI runs without scoring a century. Misbah has scored 5122 runs in his 162 ODIs, has put 42 half centuries on board but could not manage to score an ODI ton in his career with 96* as his best ODI figure.
Misbah-ul-Haq is also considered as the best Test Captain of Pakistan ever. He led Pakistan in 42 Test matches, winning 20, losing 11 along with 11 draws. Misbah was named captain of Pakistan cricket team when Shahid Afridi resigned as Test captain and Salman Butt was being suspended due to spot-fixing scandal. Many people criticized the decision of making Misbah-ul-Haq as Test captain but afterwards Misbah silenced the critics through his performance and intelligent moves as a leader. He also helped in lifting Pakistan up from the low morals of the spot-fixing scandal. Misbah also gave the shock to those who used to call him tukk-tukk by scoring fastest Test Century against New Zealand in 56 balls only (tied with Vivian Richards). That record was later then broken by Kiwi legend Brendon McCullum when he scored century in 54 balls. Misbah-ul-Haq also led his PSL Team Islamabad United to the final where his men crowned the inaugural edition of Pakistan Super League against Sarfaraz Ahmad’s Quetta Gladiators.
Misbah-ul-Haq’s Islamabad United won inaugural edition of PSL
Misbah not only gained success at international level but he also proved himself in domestic circuit as well. His 2012–13 Domestic Season was truly remarkable. Misbah-ul-Haq has captained Faisalabad Wolves in Twenty20 domestic tournament and SNGPL in First-Class and List-A domestic tournaments. First, he took SNGPL to victory in President’s Trophy against Younus Khan’s HBL and then he took Faisalabad Wolves to victory in Faysal Bank Super 8 against Shoaib Malik’s Sialkot Stallions in the mega final due to which Misbah’s Faisalabad Wolves made it to Champions League T20 as well. At last Misbah led SNGPL to another victory in domestic list-A tournament, President’s Cup against Rana Naved-ul-Hasan’s WAPDA in the final. Misbah holds the record of winning all the domestic tournaments (Twenty20, First-Class and List-A) in domestic season 2012/13.
At the beginning of his career, Misbah-ul-Haq couldn’t stand on his feet stronger but since his comeback in 2007, he has been giving outstanding performances and rescued the national side many times from obvious defeats. Misbah’s services to Pakistan cricket and his ability to lead from the front eventually earned him the title “Captain Cool”. It is his batting abilities due to which national and international greats of cricket often regard him as one of the best batsmen of the world. Right now Misbah-ul-Haq is leading the national side for Test series against England which will begin from 14th July. Probably this series would be his last mark in international uniform. After then, another great chapter of Pakistan cricket would come to an end.