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Misbah's path

Updated Jul 25, 2013 01:18pm


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Whether he is slow death or Pakistan’s saviour, Misbah appears to be clearly aware of the approach that he has adopted. -File photo by AFP
Whether he is slow death or Pakistan’s saviour, Misbah appears to be clearly aware of the approach that he has adopted. -File photo by AFP

Pakistani cricket fans, experts and analysts are divided in two groups on their opinion on Misbah–ul–Haq, the batsman.

Sarfraz Nawaz reflected the sentiments of one group on 14th June 2013: “His (Misbah’s) overly defensive batting puts his colleagues under pressure, which indirectly results (in) loss of wickets”.

For this group, everything wrong, bad and sometimes even evil about Pakistan cricket, boils down to Misbah-ul-Haq. It is the amount of negative energy he transmits into the veins of the entire team that is termed as slow death. From the team’s ever sliding run rate, to the miseries of the otherwise talented and free flowing opening batsmen; Misbah is to be blamed for all.

Meanwhile, Wasim Akram echoed the emotion of the second group on 17th June 2013: “I think Misbah has been our best batsman in recent times…if Misbah had not stood his ground, the way this team batted it could have been bowled out for scores of 30.”

Misbah’s supporters view him as the backbone of a defunct batting order, devoid of talent. He normally comes in amidst a batting collapse and has no choice but to anchor the ship before it sinks. He is willing to be crucified for the salvation of his team; Misbah is the savior of Pakistan cricket in its most difficult period.

After making his debut in 2001 and putting in mixed performances in Test and ODIs, Misbah continued with glittering success in the relative obscurity of domestic cricket until his return to the international circuit in 2007 when he illuminated the inaugural World T20 in South Africa with his swashbuckling abilities and undeterred nerves. Today, almost six years later, even for the most ardent Misbah fan, the second coming of an assertive and dynamic batsman is a fading memory.

Is it the aging process? Is it the burden of captaincy or a fragile batting line up? Or is it the lack of capability? Maybe, his 2007 T20 resurgence was just a flash in the pan?

A typically unflappable Misbah has his own opinion on the evolution of his approach to batting in the middle order of Pakistan.

On 13th May 2013 Misbah stated: “In 2007 my role in the team was a different one. As a no. 6 batsman, I was aggressive in the presence of Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan - who were taking most of the responsibility to play out all the overs and keep rotating the strike. But with Yousuf being dropped, it was a huge gap to fill, and the responsibility came on me. I was given a role when I led the team after the spot-fixing fiasco: to stay in the middle till the end. And this is the reason for the phase when I held my shots and didn't play to my strengths. When you play like this, you lose your confidence and can't give your best. But now I have given this approach a rethink and have decided to return to my natural game.”

Let’s not make sweeping statements for once and put Misbah’s own self analysis through the acid test.

Misbah, from 2007 – 2010, Mohammad Yousuf was still a part of the ODI setup.

Matches: 46, Runs: 1249, Average: 37.85, Strike Rate: 84.74

Misbah, from 2010 – 2013, Mohammad Yousuf was not a part of the ODI setup.

Matches: 67, Runs: 2265, Average: 50.33, Strike Rate: 69.14

Misbah’s self assessment is backed well by his numbers, though, the man he is trying to replace played in the same batting positions of number four and five but was able to score three centuries during the years both of them played for Pakistan. In that time frame, Yousuf was scoring at an average of 45.53 with a strike rate of 78.72. Also a slow starter, once set, runs would flow from his bat with elegance and the scoreboard kept ticking.

This helped the relatively inexperienced players like Misbah to play freely without feeling the heat. It is the job of senior players to make things easier for their juniors and groom them to handle the pressures of international cricket. This is one area that Misbah has been criticized for most. Even when he gets into the groove, he is unable to pick the pace and inject the all important impetus in the innings.

The hallmark of a great batsman is not just what he achieves with his own numbers, but also what he brings to the crease for his partner at the other end. The likes of Inzamam-ul-Haq and Javed Miandad were the masters of this trade and in their presence the value of rotating the strike could never be undermined in the Pakistani middle order.

Misbah has vowed to return to his natural game, which according to his own observation was an aggressive one till he had to change it when Yousuf’s career was brought to an abrupt and unceremonious end in 2010.

The winning captain of the Faysal Bank T-20 cup this year, Misbah was also the tournament’s highest run getter with an average of 103 and a strike rate of 140.13. He will take Faisalabad Wolves to the fifth edition of the Champions League T-20 hosted by India in September. Furthermore, a run chase in the President’s Cup indicated that his batting has more gears than the two he has grown accustomed to engage when he shifts out of neutral; first or top.

This summer, the only ODI Pakistan lost in West Indies was the one in which Misbah did not score a half century. He scored 260 runs in five games at a healthy average of 65 but a typically modest strike rate of 63.41, numbers deservingly earning him the man of the series award.

However, the fourth ODI in the West Indies portrays the problems he is still facing in bringing his “A” game to the international stage, or, by his own definition, his ‘natural one’. His innings was categorised in two distinct parts, one before the rain where he scored three runs off eight balls and the other after the rain making 14 off the next eight. It’s hypothetical, but, if rain had not reduced play to a 29-over contest the first part of his innings might have lasted a little longer, irritating his opponents and annoying a lot of Pakistani fans.

A score of 262 appeared very distant for a batting order prone to crumble in pursuit but with a shortened game it seemed that suddenly the weight of the world was taken off Misbah’s shoulders. He did not need to worry about batting a quota of 50 overs; more importantly, he knew his team would not have to either.

It was not about his trademark slog over mid-on to break the shackles. His innings had the momentum he so dearly desires and is very capable of; running 35 of his 53 runs between the wickets while maintaining a strike rate of 123.25.

In Misbah’s own words “I do assess the criticism but also evaluate if there is any hidden interest behind it. If it's a logical and fair point, I do consider it and try to address it on the field.”

Whether he is slow death or Pakistan’s saviour is a matter of perspective, but, Misbah appears to be clearly aware of the approach that he has consciously adopted. To some, it may seem that he is unable to adapt to the situation during matches, though, by his own calculation he has intentionally curbed his natural instinct and altered his game to fit the requirement of his team.

For Misbah, it has not been a question of limited ability but a matter of choice within a given environment. Currently, being the best batsman in the country gives Misbah the liberty and luxury to choose his own path. One can only hope that it does more good to his team than it causes harm and ultimately contributes to more silverware for Pakistan.


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Comments (46) Closed

muammad Jul 25, 2013 01:32pm

Misbah is like a sheet anchor for the Pakistani unreliable batting lineup minus Misbah you will find nothing but a team getting out under 100 runs

Shehzad Zafar Jul 25, 2013 01:41pm

Misbah is the best player I have seen in recent years to grace Pakistan cricket. Losses in the other ODIs were not his fault rather then players who have no talent. At core end they are bowlers but they pretend to be hard hitting batsmen. Pakistan need core batsmen and core bowlers. Only one all rounder is enough for any team.

Riz - US Jul 25, 2013 01:45pm

@ Shan: So by comparing different categories of fans, analysts etc you are shying away from the question as to what category you belong to?

Muneeb Jul 25, 2013 02:04pm

Very nice writing style. Good job Shan

Tahir A Jul 25, 2013 02:13pm

Misbah's magnificent performance at all levels must surely silence every critic once & for all!

Well done Misbah. You are a real gentleman and a much needed leader for Pakistan. After cricket you should promote your worth as a role model for others in all walks of life.

pakfan Jul 25, 2013 02:49pm

We all have to agree that Misbah is not a gifted batsman like Miandad, Mohamad Yousaf, Younis Khan and Inzi. Sadly we have no batsman like those any more. Misbah is a cool headed athlete with leadership qualities. In batting and captaincy he can be compared with Imran Khan. Off course Imran had a big advantage for being world class bowler also. I would say at present Misbah is doing an excellent job for Pakistan cricket.

We can see emerging talented batsman like Nasir Jamshed, Ahmad Shahzad, Umar Akmal and Asad Shafiq. Now is the time for them to move one step forward and start leading by staying on the crease and get runs in ODI/Test cricket like Miandad, Mohamad Yousaf, Younis Khan and Inzi did. For this to happen SERIOUS work/practice is required. And I think these boys have a great opportunity to do that under Misbah's leader ship. Remember Misbah now almost 40 wont be here for long. We have a team for odi wordcup 2015 and have enough time to resolve batting issues like batting all 50 overs and scoring above 250 runs.

sami Jul 25, 2013 03:23pm

Misbah is doing a great job. Now in ODI with batsmen like Nasir Jamshed , Ahmad Shahzad and Umar Akmal batting is looking stable.

In all-rounders Abdul Razaaq is a no brainer over Wahab Riaz. He deserves it as he has won so many matches for Pakistan. He is still a fit player and can do a lot with BAT which is needed so much in ODI and 20/20. In ODI/2020 selectors should select Abdul Razaaq who talk less and produce more. Next series is against South Africa and hope to see Abdul Razaaq in the lineup.

Khattak Jul 25, 2013 03:36pm

First of all congrate to all pakistan for win series against west indies..... My some friend say that misbah can waste balls only....but i say misbah batting is improve in last year..He done nice job in South afriqa ,sadly pakistan lost the series but misbah performance is very good if we compare with his privous performance... In this series he scored 4 fifties in 5 match... Where is Misbah haters now. He can cought the ball like Shaheen, He can bat like a Wall..No bowler can break this wall .he is highest scorer in 2013. he has also record of 9 fifteis in 2013. I love love , support and Respect for King Misbah.... Best wishes for him and Pakistan..

Inty Jul 25, 2013 03:49pm

The performances and stats speak for themselves. Cricket savvy and learned viewers of the game will appreciate what he has given pakistan cricket but frivolous supporters used to the 'Boom Boom' type cricket are not his ardent fans! Take your pick and see where you lie in the spectrum but stats don't lie!

Rogers Evans Jul 25, 2013 04:31pm

Time to retire now, Misbah, otherwise you will face humiliation in the long run.

saif Jul 25, 2013 04:35pm

a 39 year old with the most runs and number of sixes in 2013, thats the extraordinary bit. Fitness miracle that guy

Adeel Jul 25, 2013 04:53pm

Misbah is the only consistent factor of an otherwise extremely unreliable and inconsistent Pakistani team. I am rather quite sick and tired of all Misbah-bashing. Poor chap is the leading run scorer not only for Pakistan but internationally as well for this year; what else do you want? He is doing more single-handedly than the remaining batting line-up combined together. Give it a break.

tajamul Jul 25, 2013 05:20pm

How to answer the critics?One should learn from Misbah.He has kept silent and patiently but decently made his performance to answer his critics.He may not be the perfect batsman but he certainly is the best in current Pakistani team.

tajamul Jul 25, 2013 05:20pm

How to answer the critics?One should learn from Misbah.He has kept silent and patiently but decently made his performance to answer his critics.He may not be the perfect batsman but he certainly is the best in current Pakistani team.

Roger Townshend Jul 25, 2013 05:33pm

He's the (batting) hero Pakistan deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero.

Hyder Ali Jul 25, 2013 07:47pm


If the throw at non strikers end had hit stumps Saeed Ajmal would have been run out and Pakistan would have tied another match.

This series victory must not be used to cover up severe problems surrounding the PCB and the team itself. Specially Pakistan takes pride in its world class bowling but in this series the art of using yorkers and reverse swing has gone missing during last ten overs

Ms Dhoni has led India to victories in champions trophy and triangular series in West Indies but has graciously set aside to let Kohli lead the side against Zimbabwe.

Pakistan is next scheduled to tour Zimbabwe and let see if PCB and Misbah allows someone else to be groomed as captain for future though it looks unlikely.



Tansar Jul 25, 2013 08:06pm

So, for those who are criticizing...

Please give a solution for this then. Criticizing is the best we do.

Give one player name who can take Pakistan to a winning position (consistently) atleast. Winning or Losing is not important, but at least, he drives to it. He hits sixes when needed.Can you imagine what would have happened if he gets out at <10?

And yes, We need Abdul Razzaq. That poor guy is mistreated very very badly. Shame on selectors.

habib khan Jul 25, 2013 08:13pm

I fully endorse the comments here reg. Misbah the way he is playiing. There r no real batsmen on whom the opening batsmen could rely upon for piling runs for the lower players to come and play freely so the strategy what Misbah is holding is correct, when our top order batsmen fail then he has to keep the batting on so he has to slow down but he does hit when he is set. He is not afraid to hit out but what to do when the score is very low so he has to bat cautiosly to pile runs. Lets have opinions.

Tariq K Sami Jul 25, 2013 09:12pm

Cricket is a team sport and yet every individual performance counts. This is why a player like Afridi can single handedly win a match. But look at the numbers Afridi performs in one out of five matches. His is all or non law. When he does well you will win and when he does not he does nothing. Its often a long wait for Boom Boom to click. Misbah is different he is the sheet anchor. He defends one end so that every one can go out there and not worry about the other end and so just play their natural game. Most of the time when Misbah slows down the other batsman also gets bogged down. But again there is someone like Akmal for example with Misbah at the other end he can go cracking and raise the strike rate. This time Akmal did good most of the time. Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed performed below par in most matches. While it may be said that Afridi alone won a ODI out of three wins and five matches- he performed only once. If you can wait for Afridi to do well wait for another 5-10 matches. This may be a long wait. Misbah performed well in all the 5 matches. Misbah is more consistent. That is why he was the man of the series. I like Misbah because he comes across as a decent man and a well composed personality. The Pakistan Captain projects dignity.

Pakistani not Punjabi Jul 25, 2013 09:58pm

How low the Pakistan cricket has gone if Misbah is our best batsman?

So what Misbah is saying is we should expect this awefull run rate till Pakistan finds somebody at number 4 position and he goes back to #6. In which case I doubt if we would even need him. He was never a two down batsman. Javed and Inzimam's shoes are too big for him to fill. I would rather try Umar Akmal at that position for several matches. he might fail initially but will prevail eventually. As we all know, none of the Pakistani batsmen have perfect techniques and they learn by playing at international level and they are quick to learn at that. Look at Inzimam's history. He was always a number five batsman but on his calling he adopted to the two down position and gave the world some of his best innings from that position. He had the talent and raw ability to be molded into two down player. Which he did himself after failing few times. In the current Pakistani batch only Umar Akmal has that kind of talent. He has all the strokes and can slow down or up the tempo of the innnings willingly. I believe he should be given chance at number 4 and Misbah should come at his natural position at six. If you are a captain that does not mean you should always go second down,

Iqbal Jul 25, 2013 10:05pm

Here is my take on Misbah: 40 year old batsman who is yet to score a century.... no comparisons available due to absence of authentic batsmen in the team... unexplained absence of Abdur Razzak who really puts thrill in the game with his hitting and wicket taking ability... absence of Mohammad Yousuf... and lot more reasons...

(Dr.) B.N. Anand Jul 25, 2013 10:18pm

If I may say, Misbah is refined copy of our past batting heroes Pankaj Roy and Manjrekar. Other types may bloom or wither away some times but such species will be always sheet anchors of the team. He is the perfect gentleman of the game, that is why he will take bricks and bouquets silently and gracefully.. BNA

Bilal Anjum Jul 25, 2013 10:25pm

@Adeel : very well said...if pakistan looses, misbah turns into a villain...and if pakistan wins, misbah turns into a hero...people need to stop being such hypocrites and stop changing sides whenever it suits 'em !!!!...Misbah has been a savior of pakistan cricket !!! he took over soon after the spot fixing scandal and he has done a remarkable job ever since he took over !!!...

Faisal Jul 25, 2013 10:41pm

Please for heaven's sake get ride of this old fashioned late 70's captaincy of Misbah. We will not be able to win anything under his captaincy. He knows only one way of batting and that is only "tuck" "tuck". Get rid of this old fashioned captaincy and inject new blood into the team for long term good performance of team.

Yusuf K Jul 26, 2013 12:14am

Misbah is the saviour of Pakistani cricket in today's environment, where everything plagues the nation -- corruption, captain (Butt) behind bars, scandals, petty favouritism in appointing board chairmen. He is the best captain Pakistan has had in years. Also man of the match, man of the series, and the highest 2013 scorer in ODI. What else do you ask from Misbah -- to be like superman and fly around the globe in a green cape! Brilliant Misbah -- you are my hero!

Aamir Aziz Ramjoo Jul 26, 2013 01:43am

Congratulations to Pakistan for winning the series against West Indies. Misbah is an extraordinary captain, even during his interview after the final ODI he kept praising the team many times. That is a sign of an amazing leader!!! I don't really understand why he is being critized even after we won the series. Misbah haters please have a look at his statistics as the captain. This year we beat India in India and then beat West Indies in West Indies. Yes of course we lost the South Africa Series and Chiampions Trophy but we have moved on and certainly should celebrate Pakistan victories. I agree we need to make some changes. We certainly do need Abdul Razzak back and he can be the third medium pacer and all rounder we are looking for. Umar Akmal has shown a lot of maturity and Pakistan is proud of your accomplishments this series. Keep up the good work Pakistan Cricket Team!!!!!

johny blue Jul 26, 2013 03:51am

at least he is not selfish player, he plays as team man and play in defined form. i disagree that he pressurized the team. the team is pressurized because other players do not play according to role given to them. openers first role to spend 1st hour to cut off swing of ball then big run,number 3 has almost same role. but, most funny is they are not able to play swing and misbah comes almost every time within 15 overs. so, his role is establish team inning and create partnership, which he do very perfectly. also, his role is work as finisher which he do in great stlye always. while, lower middle order batsman and bowling all-rounder has job to accelerate which again are failure in general. so, i think misbah do most of his job in style and quality. some says he plays very slowly. slow and effective is always better than aggressive and under performance. it looks more slow because most around him do not perform in generally.

fuad Jul 26, 2013 04:09am

@Tansar: Yes we need Razzaq. He is a better player then Hafeez.

karamba Jul 26, 2013 04:35am

Miandad, Yousuf and Younus's strength was their ability to rotate the strike. They were not big hitters until the situation demanded it. Sadly the art of running has been lost and placing the ball in the gaps for singles and doubles is no longer part of the thinking or coaching. Hit a four or six and you are a hero but then also be prepared to be a zero with pressure from dot balls and getting caught..

Junaid Jul 26, 2013 05:15am

Those asking for injections of new blood should look at Australia. They were very eager to get rid of Ponting and get new blood and look what has happened.

Alam Wali Jul 26, 2013 05:39am

Misbah is arguably the best batsman Pakistan currently has. He has consistently been the back bone of the batting lineup. His run rate is a true testament of a classy player when you're given a pathetic lot of so called "specialty" batsmen to play alongside. I would truly encourage the bashers to come up with better alternative instead of critiquing the only player in the tem who scores in double digits on a regular basis. PS: Lets keep the Razzaks and Maliks where the belong!

Malik Jul 26, 2013 06:20am

Where is Mohammad Yousuf, what an elegant batsman Yousuf was for Pakistan for years. I dont think we needed him ever before. And it is just such a shame to let him just go this way without giving him proper farewell, its been Pakistan cricket board tradition to treat our heroes like s**t.... But this is not what cultured people do, we need to appreciate his services to the country and give him farewell series or let him give his best for few series before let him go. not only PCB has treated him bad they also affected Pak cricket results in last 2 years we all can see, hope Mr. Sethi does so remedy to this although he himself worried about himself these days, so may knocking the SC is an option because thats the only way to get things done in our country in recent times.. We miss you Yousuf, you are Great!!!

Rashid Jul 26, 2013 06:47am

@Hyder Ali: Pakistan would have still won the series...remember they were 2-1 up, sir.

Fayeq Jul 26, 2013 08:26am

I believe Misbah as Mr Dependable , At least as a nation we should show some belief in him. Although he is slow and still he manages the team well. InshaAllah he will improve as no one is perfect.

M. Javed Jul 26, 2013 08:32am

Misbah is just second to Dhoni for the record of highest successful run chases in an ODI. he often comes to the crease when our top order has crumbled so its understandable why he has to play at a slow pace. Im sure that if he produced the same batting stats as afridi, afridi fans would have demanded for his retirement from cricket. Considering the resources we have at the moment we should appreciate his services for the team. Misbah is truly a mature cricketer who never allowed the negative criticism to effect his performance.

Shaikh Jul 26, 2013 10:57am

Why cant the Pakistani Batsman or Captains Retire when the get in their late 40's.i know the money,free travel for players and their families all over the world, Luxury Hotel stays,etc is not easy to let go,but,this is too much! And by the way,if you think Misbah is ONLY 39 then I am only 16. He is 48 years old at least. What ? you have never seen people cheat and lie about their AGE in Pakistan before?

Malik Jul 26, 2013 12:12pm

@Rashid : yes thats good, finally winning after getting thrashed by Eng, SA and at CT's... In overall Pak could hv done better had there been a good selection. apart from all this, Yousuf deserves final run before he is officially retired. We must value our heroes and appreciate their services, they arent any ghost players, they are humans with hearts!!!

Abdul Ala Jul 26, 2013 03:11pm

I totally agree with Wasim Akram, since his taking over the charge of captaincy Pakistan cricket team has rejuvenated completely. In last six decades Pakistan have witnessed three great captains namely Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Imran Khan And now Misbahul Haq. We all should be proud of our captain. He knows the art of handling the delicate situation despite repeated failure of Shahid Afridi and Abdul Hafeez. I hope Misbah will continue to lead our team till next world cup.

Ali Khan Jul 26, 2013 04:04pm

Why Afridi and Hafeez are not scoring runs.Why have they brought Afridi back?

Sarah Jul 26, 2013 05:11pm

Yahoooooooooo Misbah takes the series trophy,Man of the Series,Man of the match award and lets Misbah bashers shocked and whinning :D.The only Mr.Dependable of Pakistan Cricket.Keep on playing as long you can.Pakistan team needs Mr.Dependable now and always.

zahid Jul 26, 2013 05:41pm

It is not only the style or the occasion he bats, there are question marks on his captaincy tactics as well. Which players should play and at what position, who is bowl and when to bowl, when tobtake power play, when to use DRS, the field setting with changing situations and alot of other things. These all things contribute to success of team and for himself. Numberss may prove otherwise but it is perception that goes against misbah...sadly

Ehsan Jul 26, 2013 07:10pm

Did I miss something, did we not win this series under misbah's captaincy. Some of the criticism is unbelievable, the guy steered the team through difficult time and brought some semblance and professionalism to the team.

Khan Jul 26, 2013 07:50pm

@Shaikh: Why Misbah only, Mr Me (Afridi) is around 45 also, why dont kick him out first.

MJ Jul 26, 2013 09:45pm

We should swap Hafeez and Umar in the batting order ...better yet bench Hafeez for a few games and bring back Razzak.

Sarah Jul 27, 2013 03:47am

@Shaikh: Age issue doesn't matter for me till he is scoring 260 plus runs at 65.00 Average.Cannot ask more whether he is 100 years old or 300 years old.Ultimately matters is Pakistan win and his performance as Captain.Everybody will be remembered by runs and wins only and not by age whether you are 20 years old or 100 years.Misbah has put to shame to all youngesters with his fitness and batting ability.

Sarah Jul 27, 2013 03:49am

@zahid: But he won series for Pakistan and took along with him both Man of the match and Man of the series Award :D