Following in the footsteps of Shahid Afridi, the 40-year-old captain of the national cricket team, Misbahul Haq, has decided to quit One-Day International (ODI) cricket after the World Cup. This was an expected move from the seasoned batsman, who was not going to last much beyond the coveted event regardless of the result. In an ODI career spanning 153 matches and spread over 12 years, Misbah has a unique and rather unwanted record of scoring the most runs in the format without having a single century to his name. But his consistency has remained remarkable as he has posted as many as 37 half-centuries and averages a healthy 42.83 runs. His strike rate of 73, however, clearly does not do justice to his abilities. One would expect the joint record-holder of the fastest Test century to have done better on this count.
Misbah, over the years, provided much-needed stability to the Pakistani middle-order and won many games with his rearguard actions at the crease. However, one cannot help but conclude that there were also many more games that could have been won but for his sometimes overly defensive approach. One glaring example remains arguably the biggest game of his career so far — the 2011 World Cup semi-final against India. There have also been occasions when his ODI captaincy has been marked by the same needlessly defensive approach that sometimes defined his batting despite the national team possessing some fine aggressive players, who perhaps could have benefited from more positive leadership. However, it will be grossly unfair to only remember Misbah for his weaknesses. He brought calm and stability to a team that in the past seemed too ready to implode. The 2015 World Cup offers an ideal opportunity for him to bow out on a high. Pakistan open their campaign against India and a win against the arch-rivals will help bury the ghosts of the past. If Misbah plays with an uncluttered mind and a nothing-to-lose approach, he can unleash his best at the mega event. A World Cup win will most certainly be the crowning glory of Misbah’s career.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2015.
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