He has been criticised a lot during the last three years or so that he has been the captain of Pakistan in limited overs cricket — some time also in Twenty20s before he was unceremoniously ousted from the shortest format.
But Misbah-ul-Haq has served the country remarkably well — not just in Tests but also in one-day and T20 cricket. Look at the circumstances in which he got the team to lead, first in Tests in 2010 and one year later in ODIs and T20Is when Afridi chose to quit the position. Pakistan had lost their two best bowlers — Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif when Misbah took the reins. Umar Gul remained mostly off colour or injured during most of the last four years.
So what Misbah had at his disposal was at best a secondary pace bowling attack, led by the young Junaid Khan. Nobody like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis or Shoaib Akhtar.
Still, Misbah won more matches than he lost — in Tests as well as ODIs. While he had a rather stable batting line in the Tests, he had no such luxury in the ODIs. He had none like Salim Malik, Inzamam or Mohammad Yousuf.
Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan who performed admirably in Tests under the captaincy of Misbah failed to do the same in ODIs. Mohammad Hafeez, who kept opening for the last four years, has a pathetic average of 31. Ahmad Shahzad, the other opener, was not much better for Misbah as he averages 34 runs.
So what do you expect of a captain who has a truncated bowling attack, an unreliable opening pair, a brittle middle order.
That Pakistan’s batting line remained fragile in all these years meant Misbah had to carry most of the burden himself. And he did it very gracefully and tactfully, disregarding all the filthy remarks passed about his style of batting.
So what if he didn’t score a century in his ODI career? It’s amazing that on the one hand he is ridiculed for his so-called defensive approach and on the other for his not making centuries. Aren’t these two positions antagonistic? Only one of these two positions can be right. The fact that he didn’t score centuries proves that he was not a selfish cricketer.
Centuries don’t guarantee success. And he won Pakistan a large number of matches without scoring centuries. We should look at the results provided by him in the most difficult of circumstances rather than at the lack of centuries inhis ODI record.
He was a rock in the middle order of Pakistan — no less in ODI cricket than in Tests. He ended his ODI career with an average of 43.40, which is better than those of Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul- Haq, Mohammad Yousuf and Saeed Anwar.
Out of the 87 ODI matches in which he led Pakistan he won 45, lost 39 and tied two. His winning percentage is 53.48, better than Shahid Afridi (who plays in a style exactly opposite to that of Misbah and which is very popular among our cricket fans), Rashid Latif, Saeed Anwar, Aamer Sohail, Ramiz Raja and even great Javed Miandad. How could he be criticised for his way of leading.