Twenty20 World Cup 2007 September 18, 2007

Misbah the unfancied turns unflappable

Misbah the unfancied has become Misbah the unflappable, and in a madcap batting order a touch of unflappability is exactly what is required

Pakistan's selectors conjured some surprises for this tournament not least the selection of Misbah-ul-Haq, a senior cricketer who has been incorrectly identified as a youngster. When he was indeed a youngster, Misbah was discussed as a future star of Pakistan's middle order. Those observers must have been stupendously far sighted because that future has taken many years coming.

Misbah's temperament has been a surprise as has his assured strokeplay. But the boy can play and his fighting innings against India may have just encouraged him to secure his future in Pakistan's first XI. Misbah the Unfancied has become Misbah the Unflappable, and in a madcap batting order a touch of unflappability is exactly what is required.

The other rabbit out of the selectorial topi [hat] has been Sohail Tanvir, a wrong-footed inverse-swinging rookie whose introduction has helped revive Pakistan's traditional strength as a varied and penetrative bowling attack. The last few overs of Australia's innings was probably the phase that turned the match and allowed Misbah and Shoaib Malik to resurrect a floundering innings.

Pakistan might be through to the semi-finals with a refreshing spirit but they still have an unshakable problem at the top of the order. The first six overs are crying out for Shahid Afridi yet he sticks to the 12-over rule. The Bangladesh match now offers a last opportunity to correct this weakness.

Twenty20 might well be the least important world tournament but for Pakistan fans who have lived through the anguish of inevitable defeat to mighty Australia, this small victory is a sweet one. It is even sweeter still for Misbah the Unfancied, a batsmen whose style carries the 'M' of Majid Khan and the 'Ul-Haq' of Inzamam. He might never reach such dizzy heights again but for what he has done in this tournament and especially today, good on the youngster.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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