Misbah-ul-Haq – 42 and Kicking

Pakistan's Misbah-Ul-Haq celebrates his century on the first day of the first Test cricket match between England and Pakistan at Lord's cricket ground in London, on July 14, 2016. / AFP / Lee MILLS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO ASSOCIATION WITH DIRECT COMPETITOR OF SPONSOR, PARTNER, OR SUPPLIER OF THE ECB (Photo credit should read LEE MILLS/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistan’s Misbah-ul-Haq celebrates his century on the first day of the first Test cricket match between England and Pakistan at Lord’s cricket ground in London, on July 14, 2016. (Photo by LEE MILLS/AFP/Getty Images)

At an age ripe as per international standards for being slothful, Misbah-ul-Haq, the proverbial Pakistani batsman of mixed repute seems to have taken it upon himself to unleash an attack for defying inhibitions and exceeding expectations as he breaks a record in the ongoing Test match at Lord’s becoming the oldest batsman to score a Test century.

An easy single of the bowling of James Vince and Misbah walked to the other end completing his 100th run at the Lord’s in the 1st innings of the 1st Test match in Pakistan’s tour of England. The crowd might have been expecting perhaps another meagre or rather quiet celebration from Misbah but contrary to the expectations, what looked like a quick wave of the bat towards his teammates cheering him from the pavilion was followed by a rather old-fashioned salute to his cadre from Pakistan and then perhaps as a proof of his ever-enriched youthful self at 42 years, Misbah broke into a jig and started doing push-ups amidst a cheering crowd.

“That was my promise to the army guys,” Misbah said afterwards. “We did a camp in Abbottabad before the skill camp in Lahore, and we used to do an honour code every time, we just stepped into the ground and did ten push-ups. And I promised them, if ever I score a hundred, I will definitely do that to remind you that we were there.”

The fact that a bulk of Misbah’s 10000 international runs complied in all 3 formats of the game came after he touched the age of 35 and was additionally awarded or maybe was left to bear the blow of captaining a team which was still rescuing itself from the thaws of the infamous spot-fixing saga is perhaps proof of the PCB’s sinful ignorance of Misbah’s batting genius thus denying him from achieving a ton of personal milestones in the world of cricket which can be called materialistic and yet, these materialistic milestones go a long way in helping a cricketer reap a legacy of his own.

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It is something that Misbah could have certainly achieved on a much larger scale had his unique batting stubbornness and team management skills were spotted at an earlier time. Meanwhile Misbah kept himself content with a run-fest of sorts in the domestic circuit as to this day, he has amassed close to 25000 runs in the first-class and List A formats and if not an international legacy, has certainly created a domestic legacy in its own right.

Hi unflappable temperament though not largely documented is at par with MS Dhoni’s calm demeanor, even in dire situations, Misbah-ul-Haq’s batting resembles something of the sort of a meditative state. He isn’t flamboyant; he doesn’t desire to be so, he looks every bit of scratchy as one can look at the start of the innings and yet his ability to hold on to his wicket certainly wins you over.

While seeing of the new ball, Misbah settles into a sort of a personal rhythm ready to unleash on the spinners which to this day remain his favorite cuisine! His strengths are limited but he makes sure he plays to them whenever the opportunity presents itself and if need be, Misbah is ready to utilize his limited brand of innovations, the most notable being the paddle sweep.

His 10th Test century is an example of his tried and tested technique which may look uneasy and rather displeasing early on, is sure to bring laurels in due course of time. Misbah begun the innings in rather uneasy manner, getting off the mark with an inside edge, an outside edge boundary followed and it seemed like the hand-eye coordination has naturally diminished with age and yet, Misbah’s persisting nature stayed on. What followed was his comfort suit being delivered to him for a palette, Moeen Ali was the one chosen and Misbah took a liking to him sending him off with figures resembling those of a T20 match.

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In over six years at the helm of affairs of Pakistan cricket which though stable, is yet to reaffirm the dominance of its distant past, Misbah has taken a liking to being the dismissed savior. Happy to play the second fiddle to rather younger teammates and yet instrumental in rescuing his team, many a times from the thaws of a potential batting collapse, very often with fellow veteran Younis Khan alongside him. The two old Pakistani war horses have epitomized painstaking batting for a generation of Pakistani youngsters who were struggling to find the apt batting icons in a country known for its swing bowling prowess.

Roughly a year after taking over the reins of Pakistan cricket, Misbah gifted his countrymen something to spring out of the consuming spot-fixing saga, a 3-0 sweep over the then No. 1 side, England in early 2012, undoubtedly one of the most decorated wins in his glittering career. A 2-0 win in UAE, Pakistan cricket’s adopted home followed and provided that the proverbial Misbah’s men can deny the Englishmen of a shot at redemption, he will or should consider his job done and disclose his retirement plans to us. Meanwhile Misbah continues to be 42 years young and setting internationally acclaimed fitness goals!