ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2015

Pakistan vs Australia: A moment of reckoning for Misbah-ul-Haq

Written by Chandresh Narayanan | March 20, 2015 12:51 am

Misbah Ul Haq, Misbah Ul Haq Pakistan, Pakistan Misbah, Misbah Pakistan, Pakistan vs Australia, Australia vs Pakistan, AusvPak, PakvAus, World Cup, World Cup 2015, Cricket News, Cricket Misbah was the firts to face fan’s wrath after the World Cup semi final defeat to India in 2011. (Source: AP)

It is very difficult being Misbah-ul-Haq. He was first picked in 2001 to feature in an all-star Pakistan line-up. Those were the days when the Pakistan team was studded with the legends of the game. He made no major impact then.(Full Coverage| Venues | Fixtures)

He was then forgotten for a long time, till a young captain Shoaib Malik requested for Misbah to be drafted in for the inaugural World T20 in 2007. Misbah made an instant impact and almost dramatically won the tournament for Pakistan against India in the final. But for a moment’s madness he would have most definitely won it. Thereafter, he went through another series of missed opportunities, against India, yet again, in Test matches.

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Then he was tried for some more time, before being cast aside yet again. Malik made way for Younis Khan as skipper, who won the World Twenty20 in 2009 for Pakistan. But more problems erupted in Pakistan cricket. Mohammad Yousuf became captain before he was sacked as well. Shahid Afridi took over as captain and then retired from Tests after failing to match up to the demands of the biggest test in the sport.

READ: Michael Clarke plans to play ODIs even after World Cup 

Thereafter, Salman Butt blew the opportunity of being one of Pakistan’s youngest captain by tempting his band of bowlers like Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer into bowling no-balls in exchange for easy money. Pakistan cricket was yet again at crossroads. Misbah was thrust into the role of Test captaincy immediately as Younis did not want the role and there was no other worthy candidate. Misbah, however, continued to play under Afridi in ODI cricket. Then came the moment when Misbah became the

Thereafter, Salman Butt blew the opportunity of being one of Pakistan’s youngest captain by tempting his band of bowlers like Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer into bowling no-balls in exchange for easy money. Pakistan cricket was yet again at crossroads. Misbah was thrust into the role of Test captaincy immediately as Younis did not want the role and there was no other worthy candidate. Misbah, however, continued to play under Afridi in ODI cricket. Then came the moment when Misbah became the hate subject yet again for every Pakistani. He was accused of batting slowly in the World Cup 2011 semi-final against India at Mohali. The fact that the rest of the side failed to provide support to Misbah is almost always missed out.

After the World Cup in 2011, Afridi also quit leadership in the shorter formats. Misbah now became the captain in all formats, but never earned the respect. He even became the most successful Pakistan skipper in Tests in 2014 and to shut out all critics, equalled the record for the fastest-ever Test hundred off 56 balls. Still Misbah was not regarded by his critics.

The World Cup 2015 came along, Misbah was saddled with a line-up not of his choice. Senior pro Younis Khan made a re-entry into the ODI set-up. Champion spinner Saeed Ajmal was ruled out because of questions over his action. Then other ODI regulars like Mohammad Hafeez and Junaid Khan also had to pull out because of injuries. Misbah was left to battle all on his own as the younger players did not pull up their socks and the other seniors failed to deliver. Yet again, Misbah faced criticism for slowing down, but the others got away. Misbah was accused of being a ‘coward’, but what could he have done when he is waging a lone battle?

Thankfully for Misbah, the side changed track and won four matches in a row. Now he is at the cusp of finishing his ODI career, hopefully the wait for the final match can extend for one more week rather than it ending abruptly on Friday at Adelaide. At 40, Misbah is in the final stages of his international career. When he finishes his international career, Misbah would have ended on a much better note than when he started.

Hopefully, Pakistan will realise the enormity of Misbah’s contribution when he has finished playing and will appreciate him that much more.

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TAGS: cricket, Pakistan