ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Misbah's golden run in ODIs

Since the beginning of 2011, Misbah-ul-Haq has scored 20 fifties in 62 innings, and has been a pillar of strength in an otherwise shaky batting line-up

S Rajesh

July 26, 2013

Comments: 47 | Text size: A | A

Misbah-ul-Haq reverse sweeps the ball, West Indies v Pakistan, 4th ODI, St Lucia, July 21, 2013
Misbah-ul-Haq has made ten fifty-plus scores in ODIs after the age of 38, a feat equalled only by Geoffrey Boycott © WICB Media
Related Links
Numbers Game : Clarke's problems at No. 4
Players/Officials: Misbah-ul-Haq | Mohammad Hafeez | Umar Akmal
Series/Tournaments: Pakistan tour of West Indies
Teams: Pakistan

Misbah-ul-Haq hasn't yet scored an ODI century, but apart from that he has done pretty much everything as a middle-order batsman for Pakistan. The lack of a hundred has itself put him in the record books, as the scorer of the most runs without a century in one-day internationals, but the series in the West Indies was memorable for many more reasons for a Misbah fan. He was consistency personified, scoring four fifties in five innings, thus becoming only the third captain - after Ricky Ponting and AB de Villiers - to pass 50 so often in a bilateral series when playing five or fewer innings. Two of those efforts won him Man-of-the-Match awards - he has only won five of those in his entire career - while his consistency won him his second Man-of-the-Series award, almost 11 years after his first. And, most importantly, Pakistan won the series 3-1.

The last two-and-a-half years have been outstanding for Misbah the ODI batsman. He is now 39, an age by which most players have long decided that they no longer have the stomach to play one-day internationals. Not Misbah, though. Since the beginning of 2011, he has amassed 2265 runs at an average of more than 50, with 20 half-centuries in 62 innings; until that point, in 52 previous innings, he had scored only nine. Since his 38th birthday, Misbah has made ten 50-plus scores in ODIs, a feat achieved by only one other batsman - Geoffrey Boycott. Given that Boycott won't add to that tally, that's another record which Misbah will surely have all to himself. In fact, apart from these two, only two others have more than five 50-plus ODI scores after the age of 38.

And yet, Misbah the ODI batsman divides opinions among fans, largely because of his scoring rate. Most agree that he needs to bat the way he does given the fragility of the rest of Pakistan's top order, but some still argue that his slow scoring at times leaves the rest of the batting with too much to do. They point to his overall ODI strike rate of 73.38, which has reduced further to 69.13 during this golden period.

While it's true Misbah's strike rate has dropped recently, that number as a standalone stat doesn't offer the full picture. Apart from having to bat with a brittle top order, Misbah has played many of his matches during this period on pitches which are difficult for run-scoring. As the table below shows, in his first 58 matches, when Misbah scored at a strike rate of 80.60, the overall rate in those matches was 79.85. In the matches he has played since 2011, though, the overall strike rate has dropped to 72.88. Misbah's scoring rate is still lower than the overall match rate, but only by around 5%.

Misbah-ul-Haq's ODI career
Period Matches Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s Overall SR*
Till Dec 2010 58 1554 37.90 80.60 0/ 9 79.85
Jan 2011 onwards 67 2265 50.33 69.13 0/ 20 72.88
Career 125 3819 44.40 73.38 0/ 29 76.17
* Strike rate of all batsmen in those matches

Among batsmen who have scored at least 1500 ODI runs since the beginning of 2011, Misbah is one of seven to average more than 50, but even when reducing the average cut-off to 40, he is the only one without a hundred. However, what's probably more interesting is the strike rates in matches involving the other players: for most of them it's in the 80s, while for Misbah it's less than 73 (which is probably a combination of the conditions, the strength of Pakistan's bowling attack, and the lack of strength in their batting).

Alastair Cook, for example, has a strike rate of 82.19, but in the matches he has played the overall scoring rate is 83.72, which means Cook is marginally below average. Like Cook, Michael Clarke is slightly below average as well. MS Dhoni, on the other hand, is about 4% above average, scoring at 87.55 when the overall match rate is 84.36. The ones who've clearly exceeded the match rates are AB de Villiers, Shane Watson and Hashim Amla.

Apart from Misbah, the other player whose deficit is more than 5% is England's Jonathan Trott. Plenty has been said about his lack of urgency too, and his rate is about 6.8% below the match rate, compared with Misbah's 5.1%.

Highest averages for ODI batsmen since Jan 2011 (Qual: 1500 runs)
Batsman Innings Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s Overall SR*
AB de Villiers 34 1659 63.80 102.66 5/ 9 80.95
MS Dhoni 47 1625 56.03 87.55 1/ 11 84.36
Jonathan Trott 51 2308 53.67 77.76 3/ 17 83.42
Kumar Sangakkara 66 3028 51.32 78.79 6/ 19 79.56
Virat Kohli 69 3014 51.08 89.14 11/ 13 83.53
Hashim Amla 35 1674 50.72 88.57 5/ 10 79.32
Misbah-ul-Haq 62 2265 50.33 69.13 0/ 20 72.88
Michael Clarke 41 1653 47.22 79.50 2/ 11 80.76
Shane Watson 41 1748 44.82 96.78 3/ 12 79.74
Alastair Cook 46 1823 42.39 82.19 4/ 13 83.72
* Strike rate of all batsmen in those matches

Pakistan's brittle top order has also made it difficult for Misbah to bat as extravagantly as he otherwise might. In many matches he has come in to bat fairly early, with the innings needing consolidation after the loss of early wickets. The next two tables break down his knocks at No. 4 and No. 5 by the team scores at which he came in to bat in these last two-and-a-half years. When batting at four, in ten out of 21 innings he came in with Pakistan two down for 50 or fewer runs. Six of those were instances of Pakistan losing two wickets for less than 20. In those ten innings when he came in with less than 50 on the board, Misbah scored well, but pretty slowly, managing a strike rate of only 54.

However, his strike rate has been much better in matches when he has come in after Pakistan have gone past 50: in those games he has scored at a strike rate of 75.07. In all of these 21 innings, though, only once has he come in at No. 4 when Pakistan had already gone past 100: against West Indies in St Lucia in 2011, he came in with the score on 132 for 2 in the 34th over, with Pakistan chasing a target of 221. Misbah scored a run-a-ball unbeaten 43, and Pakistan won by seven wickets with two overs to spare.

Misbah at No.4 since Jan 2011, by point-of-entry scores
Team score Innings Runs Average Strike rate 50s
Two down for 50 or fewer 10 411 58.71 54.01 4
Two down for more than 50 11 506 63.25 75.07 6
Total 21 917 61.13 63.90 10

At No. 5 it's a similar story: cautious batting when the team is in trouble, but a lot more expressive when the team is better placed. Ten times out of 36 Misbah has come in to bat at No. 5 with Pakistan three down for 50 or fewer runs - his strike rate in those innings has been 62.65. When he has come in to bat with the score between 51 and 100, his scoring rate has improved significantly, to 75.28, and it's gone up to an acceptable 80.42 in the 13 innings when he has come in with the total more than 100. His approach in a few individual innings might perhaps be questioned, but overall these are perfectly understandable numbers: consolidating when the team was in trouble, but scoring a lot quicker when the first three wickets had contributed more solidly.

Misbah at No.5 since Jan 2011, by point-of-entry scores
Team score Innings Runs Average Strike rate 50s
Three down for 50 or fewer 10 369 46.12 62.65 4
Three down for 51 to 100 13 466 58.25 75.28 3
Three down for more than 100 13 419 38.09 80.42 3
Total 36 1254 46.44 72.52 10

Clearly, what Pakistan need is for their top three to be scoring more consistently. Since the beginning of 2011, Pakistan's top three have collectively averaged 31.42 runs per wicket, the least among the top eight sides.

Not only has Misbah scored the most runs for Pakistan during this period (see table below), he also has the best stats in wins in these two-and-a-half years, scoring 1452 runs at an average of 69. Mohammad Hafeez has scored five hundreds, but he needs to step in and score more consistently against the top sides - a batsman who bats in the top three needs to average more than 32. Umar Akmal has forged the best partnerships with Misbah, with two century stands and ten half-century stands in 29 innings. Their styles complement each other too, with Umar's flamboyance contrasted with Misbah's measured approach. Pakistan fans will want that partnership, and Misbah's splendid form, to continue at least till the 2015 World Cup.

Highest run-getters for Pakistan in ODIs since Jan 2011
Batsman Innings Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Misbah-ul-Haq 62 2265 50.33 69.13 0/ 20
Mohammad Hafeez 68 2051 32.04 75.21 5/ 10
Umar Akmal 43 1392 39.77 87.32 0/ 11
Younis Khan 42 1101 28.97 76.19 0/ 9
Nasir Jamshed 24 906 39.39 73.12 3/ 4
Shahid Afridi 44 872 21.26 125.64 0/ 5
Asad Shafiq 32 847 29.20 69.94 0/ 7
Imran Farhat 21 605 30.25 67.37 0/ 6
Kamran Akmal 27 591 22.73 76.95 0/ 3

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Comments: 47 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (August 1, 2013, 18:40 GMT)

inshah Allah come world cup, Misbah's century is waiting for him, and cut politics out of cricket

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 31, 2013, 13:55 GMT)

excellent article and nice analysis....

Posted by Dinesh on (July 31, 2013, 12:06 GMT)

I think, best batsman is who identify his strengths, believe in them and plays according to them. Dhoni, though ugly but highly impact-full with his methods. Misbah, I believe, too know what he is doing, Pak fans though fail to understand most of time. He knows that he has resources who, if given 225 to defend, will succeed more than fail. But problem is guys on the top and middle order who want to go glory alone and put team in a position where even 150 looks unlikely. Pak batsmen try to replicate Indian batters, who have a different mindset, knows that we won't be much safe even with 300 probably. If Pak can be 165-170 at 40 overs with 2-3 wickets down they can do 240-250, a winning score for them instead its 50 for 3 or 4 after 20. And only one man is there who cleans all the garbage and still get ridiculed for doing it slowly.

Posted by ansar on (July 31, 2013, 9:28 GMT)

very good nice written...Misba is very cool today player in pak team.

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 30, 2013, 20:11 GMT)

Thank You Mr.Rajesh! One of the best ODI batsman i've ever seen!

Posted by Android on (July 30, 2013, 12:06 GMT)

he is playing a series of his life he has been in a good form since the begining but there will be one concern tht he should make at least one hundrerd in a odi match

Posted by Abdul Basit on (July 30, 2013, 6:43 GMT)

Thanks to Mr. Rajesh for clearing the minds of people who hate Misbah for his slow strike rate. But we need him to establish insings with singles and run rate should not low down under 4. He will have to remove his spot as Mr. Tuk Tuk and this spot can be remove with singles and doubles and not with dot balls and maiden overs.

Posted by Ali on (July 29, 2013, 23:58 GMT)

I have been infuriated at times by comments of so called cricket fans who have kept criticizing Misbah for his approach to batting and calling for others in the team to be captain such as Afridi. However, your article is a brilliant piece of quantitative reasoning that shows to all who listen to reason of why Misbah has a beautiful mind for cricket. His temperament is legendary for being able to execute such skill at the age he has done it at . He is a lone savior, in my view of Pakistan cricket for the way he contributes in nearly every innings.

A truly deserving captain for the results he is providing and the feats he is achieving. There are none presently available to provide the leadership qualities that he posses and that Pakistan team is in dire need of, considering all that is going on.

Posted by Shoaib on (July 29, 2013, 7:38 GMT)

I Always appreciate Misbah's batting, He is genuine Team Player.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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