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November 11, 2011

Pakistan v Sri Lanka 2011

The question about Misbah

Kamran Abbasi
Misbah-ul-haq plays a sweep, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi, 3rd day, October 20, 2011
Misbah-ul-Haq averages 80.81 since becoming Test captain  © AFP
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The question about Misbah-ul-Haq is why is there a question? Pakistan undefeated in a Test series since the shameful summer of 2010. Draws against South Africa and in the West Indies, away wins against New Zealand and Zimbabwe, and a 'home' success against Sri Lanka - a sequence of results that exceeds expectations. Misbah has the second-highest Test average for a captain after Don Bradman (minimum ten Tests). Why murmurings of discontent?

Some people are never happy. Others are only happy if Pakistan play a certain way: an aggressive, entertaining form of cricket that Pakistan's returning talisman, Shahid Afridi, has taken to an extreme. The best form of defence is attack, said Imran Khan, and the mentality of Pakistan cricket was transformed.

Curiously, Misbah has resurrected the defensive outlook of Pakistan teams before Imran's captaincy. It is a long step backwards and it feels unnatural. Pakistan turned down two borderline run chases in the recently concluded Test series against Sri Lanka. They batted slowly and set deep fields when they might have risked close-in fielders. In Sharjah, that defensive tack might have come unstuck had rain and bad light not intervened.

But it didn't. Luck has sided with Misbah; every successful captain is indebted to good fortune. As unnatural as turgid defence feels, it is a necessary evil in this current life of Pakistan cricket. A period of stability was required to shake an image of predictable unpredictability. Misbah's Pakistan are unpredictably predictable. It is a nasty medicine, a bitter taste, but improved results will rebuild confidence and respect.

The one-day series offers Misbah an opportunity to silence his critics and demonstrate his flexibility. His squad is packed with attacking cricketers, and the binary outcome of a limited-overs match must force Misbah to adopt a more positive outlook, surely? He might have an exasperating way of going about his job but Misbah, the king of dot balls, has played a valuable role in transforming the on-field fortunes of Pakistan cricket.

Questions about Misbah's suitability for the captaincy will persist, the nature of the beast is at odds with the mood of the herd, but sport is a results business first and Misbah has them aplenty to support his case for caution. The next question is whether Misbah's Pakistan develop a more expansive style once some stability and sanity has been restored?

All the best captains reinvent teams in their own image. The immediate image in my mind's eye is of Misbah prodding forward, dot-balling to his heart's content. I have other images too, swashbuckling almost reckless ones. This Misbah fellow might not be to everybody's taste but he is tenacious and capable of surprise.

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

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Keywords: Captaincy, Coaching

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by boomboomAfridian on (March 21, 2012, 1:15 GMT)

mizbha only gud for TEST!! we need 2020 & odi captain SHAHID AFRIDI- SHAHID AFRIDI- SHAHID AFRIDI- SHAHID AFRIDI SHAID AFRIDIIIIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

Posted by QADER SAEED on (February 19, 2012, 7:57 GMT)

Misbah must realise that a personal example is a must.He cannot go on putting up a poor score as a batsman.The second important point for Pakistan Selection Committee to realise is that Shahed Afridi should be out of the team for good despite his cheap popularity with the crowd. It seems to me that he is perhaps creating too many problems for Misbah as a member of the team.

Posted by SYED REHAN on (January 21, 2012, 8:22 GMT)

well done Misbah & mohsin.Keep it up. Inspite of greatest victory i beleive that Whatmore will be more fruitful for paksitan cricket. As mohsin Can perfom hi job as Chief Selector as well.\\

Posted by Titia on (December 23, 2011, 19:51 GMT)

If your articles are always this heplful, "I'll be back."

Posted by UmarISLAM on (December 15, 2011, 11:33 GMT)

Misbah is a very good player. he can play according to the situation. i think the resposibilites he got that is y he is very keen to play safe.

Posted by sharique khan on (December 9, 2011, 23:00 GMT)

RAZZAK SHOULD OPEN IN ODI

Posted by Mel waas on (December 5, 2011, 1:04 GMT)

I hope PCB does not hold Misbah's age against him. Age is only a number. If Brian Close can play test cricket for England at age 45. And face the ferocious West Indian Pacer without a helmet. Why can't a fit Misbah play on for Pakistan?

Posted by khurram on (December 2, 2011, 6:26 GMT)

Nice article sir. There is no doubt that he is a nice player of test match. He has a very nice defensive technique and this style of batting is very suitable for the test format. In limited over cricket i.e ( ODI and T20) he is not a suitable person. He is not a nice finisher of limited over cricket. He should be the captain of the test squad and he should just play test cricket.

Posted by NOMAN on (November 28, 2011, 17:18 GMT)

I think misbah has good brain as a captain....People say he plays slowly...I admit it,but he iz improving now....Moreover,he anchors d innings in this style and can also surprise d other team by hitting a big six over mid wicket....At this time,he is to give chance to lead this team to victory for as long as he can...

Posted by badruddin savja(canada) on (November 28, 2011, 3:14 GMT)

dear Kamranbhai,your articles are always perfect and very fit for the current issues.I always love to read and analyse them. You are perfectly correct in titleling Misbah as king of DOTBALLS.You know that he was slow and lot of DOTBALLS during Pakistan/India Semifinal match. If he had played carefully little faster then may be Pakistan had won that match.May be I am wrong,but I thought that Misbah and some other players were not happy for Afridi being Captain and therefore planned to loose that match. Thank you and ALLAHHAFIZ

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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