There are many things we expect from the Pakistan cricket team but boring consistency isn’t one of them. Yet, captain Misbahul Haq has so thoroughly moulded the team in his own image that it is scarcely recognisable from the thrilling but infuriating Pakistan teams of the past. Not every Pakistani has taken to Misbah, who bats as if in a stupor and captains a team that is short on the tear-away fast bowlers the likes of which have come to be taken for granted in Pakistan. But at some point, substance has to trump flashy style. Misbah has now reached that point.
It certainly helps that the captain has in his team Saeed Ajmal, arguably the best spinner in the world. Ajmal — who had already got into the English batsmen’s minds by talking up his new delivery, the teesra — proved to be simply unplayable and ended up bamboozling the strongest batting line-up in the world. He was ably supported by Umar Gul, Aizaz Cheema, Abdur Rehman and Mohammed Hafiz. Team Misbah is certainly not going to win any awards for style and charisma, in both bowling and batting, but they have shown a ruthlessness and, more importantly, an ability to win that his predecessors lacked.
Misbah takes the same approach to his batting. Where previous Pakistani batting line-ups had a tendency to frequently capitulate, Misbah, through sheer bloody-mindedness, holds our batting together. He may be one of the dullest batsmen around but he gets the job done — in painfully excruciating fashion. New batsmen like Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq have followed his example. They may not possess the wristy excellence that has come to be associated with Pakistani batsmen but they have proved worthy of blunting bowling attacks into oblivion. Even our fielding, while still well below international standard, is not as clownish as before. Above all, by winning so frequently, Misbah has exorcised the ghosts of our spot-fixing past. For that, he deserves the gratitude of the nation.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ