Yes, it would not be wrong to pronounce Misbah-Ul-Haq, a grossly misunderstood person, player and captain. Without a doubt, he stands out being the most talked about cricketer today, for reasons more than one. His supporter sees him as a savior whereas his critic sees him as an unwanted presence in the team.
But what do we make out of all these baffling statements? To reach any definite conclusions, let’s have an objective look at his performance and then see if it deserves any laurels or insults.
Misbah has 29 ODI fifties under his belt, out of 29 fifties, 21 came in the winning causes. He is often criticized to not make it to 100 in any match, but if his 21 fifties have given Pakistan a win, is it even justified to criticize him then? Out of the 21 instances when he scored a fifty and Pakistan won, 14 times he has remained Not Out and so it signifies important is his presence at the crease.
Interestingly, out of his 21 fifties which led to Pakistan’s wins 12 times, he made these scores chasing down the target. He was definetly not the sole reason on all the 21 winning occasions, but it needs to be mentioned that Misbah has been playing an imperative role without getting the due credit he deserves. Many of this is perhaps because he doesn’t showcase those sportsmen charms like Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar or Shahid Afridi did.
A Close look at few of his outstanding performances:
Pakistan vs. New Zealand, 4th ODI, Napier, 2010
This was one of the best innings of his career that saw many ups and downs, failing to cement his place in the Cup 11. Misbah arrived at the crease when Pakistan was 84 for 3 and chasing a target of 263 at the beautiful Napier. Misbah kept calm and played in his trademark style and with the help of Sohail Tanvir’s 6 balls 14 runs cameo at the end, steered Pakistan to a win and gave a lead of 2-1 in the 6 match series. Proving to be a gem in the innings with 93*, he was awarded Man of the match.
Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan, Group Match, ICC World Cup, 2011
One of the hottest match of the tournaments when Pakistan took on the home team Sri Lanka at the gem packed Colombo. Pakistan top orders could not convert the starts into big scores, followed by Younis and Misbah’s great stand that took Pakistan to a total of 277. Misbah played a great innings of 83* in the challenging weather of Colombo. The contest was close and Sri Lanka ended on losing side by 11 runs against Pakistan. The credit of this win was on the shoulders of seniors like Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan and Misbah Ul Haq who chipped in with the ball and bat.
Pakistan vs. West Indies, 3rd ODI, Barbados, 2011
Pakistan bowled out West Indies for 171 in the 3rd ODI and was expected to be an easy chase but once again Pakistan was tottering for 9 for 2 in the second over when Misbah walked out on the crease.
Wickets were falling at the other end and at one point Pakistan were 49 for 4, but it was Misbah who again played a match winning innings and ended up scoring 62*. This win gave Pakistan a series win and lead the 5 match series 3-0.
Pakistan vs. West Indies, 5th ODI, Saint. Lucia, 2013
Pakistan up with 2-1 in the series and a win here would give them a first series win of 2013. Pakistan needed a series win after a horrifying run at Champions Trophy. Pakistan had to chase down a target of 243, and with a shaky batting Pakistan have, even 143 can become tough at times. Pakistan relatively had a good start compared to other matches of the series, but two quick wickets saw Misbah at the crease with Pakistan at 64-2.
The calm and composed Misbah who has been in superb touch in the series again played a match winning knock of 63 with a late cameo of Umar Akmal which saw Pakistan winning the series 3-1. Misbah-Ul-Haq scored 4 50’s in 5 matches and was awarded Man of the Series.
In all honesty, Misbah-Ul-Haq at 39 is doing wonders for Pakistan. His last game against West Indies was his 50th as a captain, and 28th victory for Pakistan in 50 matches as a captain. He has an average of 48.57 as a captain to his career’s 44.40. One can see Misbah-Ul-Haq getting better everyday, and we need to judge him more by his results than his age, without being overly critical at him. For it was not long when another 39 years old man from the same city as Misbah-Ul-Haq,Imran Khan, gave Pakistan its first World Cup in 1992.
The question is, can Misbah-Ul-Haq take Pakistan to 2015 World Cup and end his career at a high note? I believe he can. Because his quest for betterment is not over yet and the hurt of staying idle instead of fighting from the front rank would not let him accept defeat.