Pakistan v West Indies, Champions Trophy, Group B, The Oval June 8, 2013

Misbah, Pakistan's magnificent nearly man

Misbah-ul-Haq's tragedy is that his heroism, too often, covers for the collapse of his fellow batsmen, a collapse so complete that is it beyond the skills of one of the world's best bowling attacks to rescue

Misbah-ul-Haq's impressive leadership deserves better support from his team © Getty Images

As West Indies closed in on Pakistan's total at The Oval, Misbah-ul-Haq conceded a captain's no-ball: too few fielders inside the circle. It was another act to typify the dramatic career of Misbah, Pakistan's greatest ever nearly man. Misbah is by no means a perfect captain, but his impressive leadership deserves a better support cast.

Pakistan bowled like world champions and fielded competently; two-thirds of their game is progressing grandly under the current regime of Dav Whatmore and his support coaches. But the batting remains ever Pakistani, unreliable in execution and unfathomable in selection.

It should have been Misbah's day. Ninety-six not out from a total of 170 all out tells its own story. As Misbah eked the final runs towards a thoroughly deserved century, including missing out on a juicy long-hop outside off stump, a familiar aura of heroic tragedy engulfed Pakistan's captain.

Misbah and Nasir Jamshed aside, Pakistan's batsmen were pitiful in this match. As well as West Indies bowled, especially Kemar Roach, and took advantage of some low cloud at The Oval, Pakistan's top order produced a display of static footwork and erratic swipes to gift their opponents a resounding advantage. In these conditions, swishers-in-chief Imran Farhat and Mohammad Hafeez seldom prosper. Asad Shafiq caught the swishing bug. Shoaib Malik merely played to form.

It was the Misbah-Nasir axis that promised to rescue Pakistan, and 200 would probably have sufficed against this West Indies batting line-up. The atmosphere at The Oval was electric, crammed with Pakistan fans and a worthy smattering of West Indians. But the crescendo that greeted Nasir's half-century filled his head with visions of glory and he needlessly holed out at long-off without scoring another run.

Meanwhile, Misbah continued his vigil. He blocked, he drove, he glided, he lofted. He even walked back to the pavilion before Denesh Ramdin's shoddy claims of a grounded catch were rumbled by the umpires. While Irfan was in attendance for a fighting final-wicket partnership, Misbah played last man standing, recalling the many solitary vigils of Imran Khan, Misbah's predecessor in captaincy by heroism.

With Imran, there was only a sense of heroism, a relentless march onwards and upwards. When Imran stood tall, others raised their standard. The tragedy of Misbah is that his heroism, too often, covers for the collapse of his fellow batsmen, a collapse so complete that it is beyond the skills of one of the world's best bowling attacks to rescue.

It is that mood that Misbah needs to change with the support of his fellows. He nearly did it today.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2013, 15:19 GMT

    A comment here says that Abdul Razzaq is not committed, please check his last 10, 20, 30 matches for Pakistan, he has been asked to bat from Opener to number 8 and he never complained. He made runs at every position and in almost every match in last few tournaments he came in with 3 or 2 overs left. He still hit sixes, what is he meant to do. Razzaq was dropped for every match in last years T20 and we would have won that tournament. he played in 2 matches and faced less than 2 overs in each game. same story in 2011 world cup when he is easily our best hitter of the ball and extremely consistent and experienced. Razzaq should be Captain he has been treated disgracefully. Phenomenal talent being wasted by Pakistan Cricket Administrators.

  • Kalyan on June 10, 2013, 20:33 GMT

    too much is being made of misbah as a captain and a batsman; remember pak lost 2 world cups due to his batting. atleast the T20 world cup was lost off a moment of craziness, the 2011 world cup was where we saw misbah batting like bizarreness personified. even now, as many posters have pointed out, misbah doesn't take the initiative to drop non performers like malik and farhat, no initiative to bring in promising youngsters to groom, etc. misbah is good, sure, in the sense that he's grounded and has brought in calm and stability to the pak team that has always lacked them, but enough of deifying him already!!

  • Dummy4 on June 10, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    you are right Mr. Doris... I think Shoaib Mailk is now useless and should be kicked out from Playing 11.. Umer Amin is such as brilliant allrounder, he must be given an opportunity

  • Walayat on June 10, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    I love Misbah being a good middle order batsman and his way of batting in tense situation. But nowdays cricket demands aggression, building solid partnerships and some sense of match situation that will help you to place your ship on other side as a winner. That whats mMisbah and his team mate lack!!!

  • Richard on June 10, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    Misbah is so very much underappreciated by many Pakistan fans. Outsiders have no trouble seeing his worth, and have a far greater regard for him than most of his countrymen, who would prefer to put their faith in players like Afridi. I don't know whether this is a result of tribal jealousies or their preference for flashy but erratic players since I'm an outsider, but I think he's one of the better Pakistan captains that I've seen. In playing terms he is so often a voice of reason in a wilderness of sillyness, and I think it's a shame that even at times such as this there are still many comments from those who think he's worthless.

  • Dummy4 on June 9, 2013, 23:09 GMT

    We as a Pakistani cricketer loves to watch fours and sixes. We do not appreciate players who build their inning and then start playing their strokes. Misbah is un fortunately one of them. We forgot this is the same Misbah who is giving us victory after victory on foreign ground. We must give respect to Misbah. I believe Misbah has the ability and Temperment to win this trophy if our batsmen support him and pay attention to his advices. Go green Allah will help you.

  • Suhel on June 9, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    I have know clue why so much appreciation for Misbah ?! He is a 39 year OLD man first of all. He's been given by his own men the life-time achievement award of TUK-TUK King ! With that being said, why is he the captain of ODI and T20s ?! Why ?! I appreciate his calmness but he lacks match winning strategies and match winning responsibilities. He only deserves appreciation here for his calmness, but waY Too calmness and coolness will NOT win matches. A little aggression is always needed to win the matches. Staying calm 'n' cool, playing tuk-tuk will keep pakistan away from any kind of series or title !!!

  • Dummy4 on June 9, 2013, 16:49 GMT

    My blood pressure goes sky high whenever I see Shoaib Malik included in the playing team. Why blind selectors do not accept the fact that he is a spent force? If they can frop the likes of Yonus Khan and Umjar Akmal, why not Shoaib? This useless man should retire and pick up tennis. Can someone tell me if Umar Amin can do any worse than him? Selectors are chickens because they do know the word BOLD.

  • Ali Asghar on June 9, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    I wonder what Pakistan will do after Misbah's retirement? Pakistan needs somebody like him to rescue his team plus atleast 2 quick scorers like umar akmal, Shoaib malik can't fit in the team, i'll badly miss Abdul Razzaq, he's a match-winner with the bat as well as very very handy with the ball especialy in English conditions, i know he's a swing bowler so he would have taken at least 2-3 wickets per match, Pakistani selectors really needs some bold decisions as far as batting is concerned, There's not a single finisher in the batting line-up..what a poor selection!

  • Dummy4 on June 9, 2013, 12:12 GMT

    I think Misbah is best captain Pak ever had...better tham Imran Khan who had the luxury of playing within Pakistan & had wonderful talent in bowling in shape of Aaqib,wasim nd mushtaq and gr8 batting taelent too in inzi,ramiz,aamir sohail, miandad...But Misbah`s Batting Team never supported him and is not supporting since last 3 yearz...bowlers hav won matches for last 3 4 yearz..drop akmal nd farhat will do him good...