Misbah-ul-Haq was a late bloomer. Right from making a First-Class debut at the age of 24 to being appointed Pakistan skipper at 36, Misbah has touched milestones at a much later age. In many ways, Misbah has been an anomaly in the Pakistan setup who usually back youth and usher them into international cricket early.
Misbah has brought in calm and temperance at a time when they surfed through rough waters. He masterminded a 3-0 whitewash against England in 2011-12, and was at the helm when Pakistan won the Asia Cup in 2012. Though he is past 40, Misbah continues to lead them in Tests and ODIs, and is one of their fittest and most consistent cricketers.
Misbah made his debut in 2001. In his first full ODI series against Australia and Kenya, he finished as the Man of the Series but was not picked for World Cup 2003. With Inzamam-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, and Mohammad Yousuf forming the middle-order Misbah found it tough to break in.
However, he earned a recall in ICC World T20 2007. Though Pakistan lost the final by a five-run margin, Misbah finished a tragic hero. Nevertheless, the tournament helped resurrect his international career. Picked for ODIs and Tests, he smashed two centuries in the series against India.
Over years Misbah has established himself as Pakistan’s mainstay. Though he was left out in 2010, he fought back after the spot-fixing scandal hit Pakistan to succeed Salman Butt. He worked his way back into the side for the ICC World Cup 2011 and following Shahid Afridi’s dramatic ‘retirement’, was appointed captain for ODIs and T20Is as well.
Often blamed for taking it too slow and not forcing the pace, Misbah has borne the flak after numerous defeats. Though calls for him to be axed got louder in 2014, they do not seem likely in near future.
Nishad Pai Vaidya