Try as I might to close my eyes to this increasingly trite propaganda, I find escape impossible. So, here I am, offering my two cents, because if there is one thing I abhor above all others, it is the mindless hate levelled at those who don’t defend themselves.
After his recent performance in the fourth One-Day International (ODI) of the series against West Indies, Misbahul Haq has managed to prove himself worthy enough to be respected as the captain of the team. During the successful run chase, he went past Wasim Akram’s record of the most ODI runs by a player without a century. He scored an unbeaten 53 off 43 balls. Additionally, Misbah’s decision to bowl first ended up giving us the advantage. Rainy weather or not, Misbah stole the thunder — literally.
People seem to have conveniently forgotten the pain and horror of the year 2010, when Ijaz Butt was playing fast and loosely with an International Cricket Council (ICC) membership that was all but out of our hands — thanks to the shame administered by the spot-fixing trio. It was from these ashes that rose a phoenix — Misbahul Haq.
I remember not being too pleased with the choice of appointing him as captain because this was a man who had been in and out of the team but had never done anything to cement his place. Moreover, he was not a young man and his demeanour did not inspire confidence. I was to be proven wrong very soon. Under his guidance, the Pakistan cricket team managed to keep South Africa from mauling it, a probability that was all too real, even though we were playing in the UAE, which was akin to being home ground for us.
Misbah is not a first choice batsman for most world teams, nor is he a captain who has flair and an attacking instinct. If an alter ego of Imran Khan could be found, it would be Misbah. When he appeared on the scene, Pakistan needed a non-confrontational captain, who could juggle the irresponsible Ijaz Butt and the loveable Shahid Afridi. We needed a captain that could help a team scarred by the spot-fixing saga and drag it out of the self-created mire of disrepute, all without losing control. Misbah filled that role admirably, while establishing himself as the most reliable cog in the batting wheel. The team knew that it could expect him to deliver 40 to 70 odd runs at a strike rate of between 60 and 70 in almost every innings. For the service he has rendered to this team in its most difficult period, I would be willing to forgive him a 100 Mohalis over.
It is unfortunate that Misbah does not seem to have the ability to take singles and has few shots other than his pet reverse-sweep and his sudden straight sixes, but in a team where absolutely nothing else can be counted on, Misbah’s infallibility is a boon. I understand that his captaincy leaves much to be desired. He lacks the attacking instinct. Yet, he regularly opens the bowling with a spinner, shows a quiet belief in his bowlers that spurs them on to defend paltry totals and he masterfully won the war of attrition against the then world number one outfit — England — in January 2012, leaving them wondering what had hit them.
Thank you, Misbah, for living up to my trust. I always knew you had it in you!
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2013.
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