Pakistan beat the West Indies in the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI) by four wickets to clinch the series 3-1, although the scoreline does not suggest how tough all the battles were. After a comfortable win in the opening match, where all-rounder Shahid Afridi marked a grand comeback to the side, Pakistan displayed their mercurial nature in a 37-run loss the following game. However, if unpredictability is Pakistan’s trait, the West Indies are equally guilty. This was shown over the following three games as close finishes, including a tie, marked the five-match series in which Pakistan eventually came out on top.
While there were some exceptional individual performances, they were also coupled by mediocrity on the part of some of the other players. For the most part, the two teams were evenly matched. The biggest difference, however, was in the leadership. While Dwayne Bravo seemed flustered at times, Misbahul Haq remained calm and composed as ever. His demeanour aside, his batting prowess made a huge impact. The leading ODI run-scorer in 2013, man of the series against the West Indies and a total of nine half-centuries in 18 matches this year easily make him the most dependable batsman in the current playing-eleven. The trait — dependability in the batting order — is hardly an association Pakistan fans have made ever since the retirement of their batting greats. Misbah’s leadership has been able to bring a much-needed stability to the Test side, which has also been transformed into success, more often than not, in the ODI fixtures.
The win over the West Indies gives Pakistan hope after the Champions Trophy debacle. It was a much-needed boost to confidence and silences Misbah’s critics who have written him off for his defensive approach at the crease and in the field. Despite all its disappointments and let-downs, Pakistan cricket remains a constant source of satisfaction for millions in this country.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2013.
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