Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd Test, Dubai

Misbah thrives by shutting out noise

Firdose Moonda in Dubai

October 22, 2013

Comments: 43 | Text size: A | A

Misbah-ul-Haq launches the ball over the top, Pakistan v South Africa, 1st Test, 4th day, Abu Dhabi, October 17, 2013
Misbah-ul-Haq wants Pakistan to make winning a habit, and not a one-off performance © AFP
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If Misbah-ul-Haq had taken his critics seriously, he thinks he would have retired before he made his international debut. At 27, Misbah was a late bloomer whose focus was more on his studies than sport. His quiet demeanour made him an easy target when he didn't perform and there were many who thought he was best dispensed with. He, however, shut them all out.

"I don't bother with what people are saying. If I listened to them, my career would have been over in 2001," he said. "I know what I am doing after playing for 15 or 20 years of cricket and I know what I am doing right or wrong. Most of the legends are appreciating what I do, and guys who don't have any say in Pakistan cricket are the ones saying things."

Misbah has since made a decision to filter the feedback he gets, especially the attacks on his defensive tactics. Those have softened after his century - an uncharacteristically aggressive one at that - during Pakistan's win over South Africa last week. Now, scrutiny has shifted to how he, as captain, will approach the second Test and whether he will be satisfied with preserving Pakistan's 1-0 lead or if he will encourage his charges to show positive intent.

Dav Whatmore said the preservation of a lead would do because winning a series was important irrespective of the margin. Younis Khan was more interested being aggressive, wanting to finish South Africa off 2-0 to prove Pakistan's ruthlessness. Misbah, as is his nature, wasn't giving too much away.

Although he had promised a result-oriented pitch immediately after the first Test and sounded as though he genuinely believed Pakistan were close to ending South Africa's seven year unbeaten streak on the road, he is now taking a step back. He likened this more contemplative mood to the way Pakistan approached the series last year, when they whitewashed England. Misbah said they were able to do that because allowed themselves perspective between games.

"It was a matter of taking every game as it came. That was the key for us," Misbah said. "Even when we got to the third Test match, we were not looking at it from the point of view that we had already won two games. So we are not going to put any pressure on ourselves and say we have to win or draw this."

Although Misbah tried to play down expectations, they are perhaps greater now than they were during the England series. South Africa's long-run of success, when matched against how they folded in Abu Dhabi and how significantly weakened they will be going into this match, will increase the pressure on Pakistan to beat them.

Without Hashim Amla, South Africa's only centurion from the first Test and one of their best players of spin, their batting looks much thinner. Dale Steyn's tight hamstring could rule him out as well, leaving them short in both departments. The replacements, likely to be Dean Elgar and Rory Kleinveldt, do not pose the same threat and Pakistan will consider themselves in with a real chance should South Africa find themselves needing to field both.

Misbah does not want his men to prepare with that in mind, though. "We don't want to think about that. We are just assuming both [Amla and Steyn] are playing. We don't want to be complacent and think the top bowler and batsman are not playing," he said. "And even if they are not playing, they are still the top side in the world and they are still dangerous."

Misbah suspects a wounded South Africa will demand the best from Pakistan and wants to see his men raise the bar to meet that. "They will know what mistakes they made in the first game and they will have fixed some of them," he said. "We have to improve our game as well, in all three departments, that's the only way we could beat them. This Test could be really tough for us and that's what we are ready for."

The ability to step up when asked to will also be an important step for the development of the Pakistan team. As Misbah discovered in his four years out of the Test team, one-off successes, while memorable, are less important than regular impressive showings.

He believes the win in Abu Dhabi will mean so much more if it is followed by a similar result or a fighting draw to ensure Pakistan win the series. "Winning a game is not going to help any team to improve. Performance on consistent basis makes you a better team and better players," Misbah said. "We really want to win this. Especially in the context of the way we are playing cricket. We want to prove we are a good enough side to beat top sides."

And what about the criticism from people that could easily work its way into the players' minds? Misbah has learnt to shut it out and he will encourage his team to do the same.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Chaudry_Cricket on (October 23, 2013, 6:43 GMT)

Honestly do not understand why people criticze him ... Ok maybe he is not the best captain currently but there is no sutible replacment ... Besides he has always led from the front when batting. If you want to look at slow strike rates maybe you should look at Shehzad, Jamshed, Hafeez because Misbah has a better strike rate than them in odi. Haters can say what they want but my respect for this man will continue to grow!!!!!!!!!

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 6:14 GMT)

I don't know why people critics him. Criticizers should look at his record at International and Domestic Level. People call him TUK TUK but i call him Innings builder. He is always after runs. Shan masood is a good talent. Pak Should put 1 or 2 more youngster in side to build a good team in future.

Posted by SaudSami on (October 23, 2013, 5:40 GMT)

I see Misbah as an important assett to Pakistan Cricket for a long time to come. Whenever he decides to retire, he would make a good coach. With his MBA he may also make a great PCB Chief someday.

Posted by JohnSnider on (October 23, 2013, 4:48 GMT)

Forget Misbah's body language, he has proven to world no bowler the world r can get his wicket unless he himself decide to give it away by scoring runs for aggressive but dead Pak players already back in Pavillion. No one scores in Pakistani team except him. Bowlers are the most dangerous in world of cricket and they are winning games but not Pakistani batsmen. If you takeout Misbah in any form of cricket then Pakistani batsman are only school boys against test players. Where is Amir when would he he come back if he comes back then Tenn Pakistani bowlers and Misbah alone are enough to defeat any team in the world. I guarantee Most teams would not cross 150.And Misbah and 10 bowlers, 5 spinners and five fast bowlers can handle that with ease. Every over there should be bowling change to confuse all players, umpires and opposing crowd. As wickets tumble , crowd would want their money back and most cricket fan in the world would becomes Pakistani cricket team fan.

Posted by JohnSnider on (October 23, 2013, 4:33 GMT)

Good job Firdose Moonda. I think the time has come that you should write an article on Misbah proving that he is a unique great cricketer captain at age 39. Misbah is calm and collected person but Pakistani people want always aggressive and crazy angry players like Shahid Afridi. Pakistan has never produced a peaceful captain in past except A.H. Kardar who defeated England in 1953 , Fazal Mahmood was the key to that win r destroyed England.Incidently He was most handsome man ever born in cricket arena. . Imran Khan or Wasim Akram was never were as handsome as Fazal Mahmood .He even mesmerized Queeen and her sister in UK. check history, If Misbah improve his voice and act more like aggressive captain rather than having an apologizing face to losing team, does not go with national character of Pakistan. To me Misbah is greatest captain ever over 39 who is one man army. If you deduct his score from each match, Pakistan becomes like high school team. Most consistant .

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 4:30 GMT)

Playing professional cricket & do comments on player's performance both are not the same thing. We love to do comments, critics against players every now & then. My dear friends, go & wear the pads, gloves, & stand on the pitch for (1-2 hours), take singles & doubles then only you can understand what is Cricket & how tough to play it. At the age of 39+ years I am sure the comments maker can't even think to run for 1 KM distance.

PAK cricket should not be blamed always, they are deprived from best facilities & even they really don't get enough opportunities to play against top teams. Who talks more, comments more, do critics they are not a real cricket lover - I believe.

Bangladeshi players are more aggressive than the Pakistani players but that doesn't mean that "to be aggressive will earn result always". So we all should praise who deserves it not just criticizing & do comments on players. - I believe that is not a good practice.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 4:27 GMT)

love u misbah (Y) your the prdde of pakistan best of luck for today,s match...

Posted by bharath74 on (October 23, 2013, 2:45 GMT)

It is not only pakistan cricket that needs players like Misbah, it is also their board that need ppl like misbah.

Posted by zarasochozarasamjho on (October 22, 2013, 21:56 GMT)

Misbah has been easily Pakistan's best captain (win/loss ratio basis) and with a team arguably the weakest that Pakistan has had. Further, as a test batsman he is in the top 10. Which other Pakistani batsman is there, apart from Younis Khan?

Posted by likeintcricket on (October 22, 2013, 20:18 GMT)

@Muhammad Zulfiqar Sahito, Yes I did miss that cause I wasn't following Pak cricket after debacle against Zimbabwae but this short series is an another example of Pakistan getting less chances to play against quality opposition. SA is an established side and they are worthy #1 and they achieved it by performing consistently against all sides. We cannot expect them to loose against Zimbabwae and Bangladesh. On the other hand Pakistan still needs to prove it outside UAE.

Posted by imranmujtaba on (October 22, 2013, 19:38 GMT)

Misbah is such a captain of the ship who see ship sinking while is calmly standing in the middle. Pakistan worse ever captain - with current bunch of people he can survive in test team but he should not be included him in ODI. Very poor selection, if he can survive in ODI then why not Younis. he lack leadership, Pak test or ODI recent success is mostly due to bowlers and whenever top order and lower middle order have performed. Pakistan should invest in youngester in ODI to replace Inzi and Yousuf ..... Misbah such a selfish player that he detroying Umar Akmal career, used him as pinch hitter where he had a quality to fill the gap created by Inzi and Yousouf..... hopefully, PCB will change and bring positive change for the future of Pak cricket.

Posted by Majid_Sweden on (October 22, 2013, 18:35 GMT)

I used to think that I am the only one who thinks that misbah is solid like a rock but nice to see that I have some support in this.. regarding misbah coming on so late in his career must have been affected by that there were som real greats during that time like saeed anwar,Inzamam-ul-Haq, Yousuf Youhana.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 16:29 GMT)

I have full faith in Misbah. He is a fantastic player and a great leader. He should not be blamed for other people mistake. He has done a great job with the limited resources and bad selection. Good Luck to my team make us proud Misbah and the rest of the boys

Posted by SamRoy on (October 22, 2013, 16:22 GMT)

First of, Misbah Ul Haq knows his game like the back of his hand. Secondly, he is a very solid player but not a world class batsman. Even he knows that. Pakistan has one world class batsman, Younis Khan, who is past his prime but still remains a good bat.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 16:18 GMT)

@ajmal ajaib raja ,yeah i accept styen is more dangerous but one thing i notice about him he get frustated very soon if conditions are not suiting him or he does not pick a wicket early but philander line and length remains brilliant all the time..my point of view about styen injury is only that pakistan shoud not take SAF bowling easy untill philander and morkal is there.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 15:44 GMT)

@mubashar ahmad khan: philander poses more threat than steyn, i agree but a more fit steyn can pose more threat than any other in the world around and he has proven himself...philander is deadly accurate with his lengths but steyn has a pace along with deadly swing which makes him more dangerous a bowler than philander

Posted by Mr.PotatoesTomatoes on (October 22, 2013, 15:18 GMT)

I believe Misbah is a fantastic player-has a level head on his shoulders,is calm,and knows his game like the back of his hand.On current form he would walk into my international test XI.However,I am not too sure about his captaincy.Just feel that he does not really exude the body language of a leader.Looks like he was forced to take the job,and wasn't really putting his hand up for it.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 15:12 GMT)

Misbah is great player and leader for pakistan cricket who holds the pakistani team together while so much crisis going on with pakistan cricket and no international cricket played in pakistan,one more good opening partnership from pakistan can cause a series win,i think phillander is more dangerous bowler than styn who also took more wickets than styen in last match, bowling very accuratly and testing line for the batsmen anyways gool luck misbah and pak team.

Posted by Ajmal_raja on (October 22, 2013, 15:07 GMT)

Misbah has proven a consistent player over the period of time and has hardly seen him failing to score in any of the formats......he can clear any boundry in the world with ease...the only problem which has been with him and is going on still is he fails to rotate the strike....if he can do this he can b counted as one of the most successful batsmen who have played for Pakistan over a period of time

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 15:04 GMT)

Dubai is certainly not a draw pitch any more. It will give a result. But i dont think there is any negative in saying that if it comes to a point where pakistan have to save the series they will surely go for draw. series win is more important than being aggressive or positive. what dav said and misbah saying is totally understandable. and it doesnt mean that pakistan playing for draw from 1st ball.

SA is a top team and will come hard. Pakistan's 2nd innings raised some questions once again so it will not be a piece of cake for Paksitan. they will have to be on top of their game once again to beat SA and win 2-0.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 15:00 GMT)

@Posted by likeintcricket on (October 22, 2013, 13:49 GMT): there is no 3rd test for SA to win the series from here. It is a 2 test series so they can only draw it.

Posted by Kamran_Ali on (October 22, 2013, 14:52 GMT)

Good Comment u need only 20 good bowls to win a test no matters who bowls that! hope Pak team will play to the best of their abilities and with positive frame of mind for winning the second test and series with 2-0 margin.

Posted by DingDong420 on (October 22, 2013, 14:47 GMT)

shutting out noise and runs.....always there when Pakistan need him, unfortunately he cant move up the gears...There were a couple of games versus India where he just plodded along and lost Pak the game

Posted by CricFanKrish on (October 22, 2013, 14:45 GMT)

Well said, Misbah! All the best to you and your team :) .

Posted by asim229 on (October 22, 2013, 14:42 GMT)

Noone criticizes Misbah if he is playing well or if the team is doing well just like the first test against SA where he played and captained well.People only criticize him if he plays those mind-boggling innings in the ODIs and T20s where while chasing a high target with the big runrate he starts blocking for no reason which puts tremendous amount of pressure on the other batsmen.In those situations batsmen should rotate the strike by taking singles but Misbah can either block or can hit boundaries.But I have noticed that his form and game have improved a lot in the last 1 year or so and those TukTuk innings are becoming few and far between.I think it may have something to do with the confidence he got by being a captain for such a long time and it helped him improve his game and get his form.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 14:40 GMT)

misbah is the best at the moment what pakistan got today. he plays quick when needed he stops when needed. his sense of situation judgement is awesome. So i as cricket loving person love misbah and need some one like yousaf .umar akmal or malik to support him properly in middle order and one play at the top order. Younis khan may be a good test player but he is not good of the one days. He should look at his previous record of all time before expecting his selection. Younis no offence meant but you should stay out of one day and t20 and must guide and support youngster for your spot

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 14:33 GMT)

Dear Likeincricket, let alone S.A you don't even know the series. This Series includes only 2 tests, so Pak can not lose this series. Well S.A might win the next match as they are a goo side, but you can not take anything away from Pakistan, they are capable of beating any top ranked side and by the way Pakistan is also a historically top ranked side in World Cricket.

Posted by keptalittlelow on (October 22, 2013, 14:18 GMT)

Hats off to this level headed skipper, I have said it before and will say again that Misbah is the best captain Pkistan Cricket Team ever had, he has commanded his troops without many match winners like Miandad, Waseem and Waqar which Imran Khan had on his disposal.

Posted by Mel-waas on (October 22, 2013, 14:15 GMT)

Misbah is right. So what if Dale Steyn does not play. Pakistan batting was routed by Zimbabwe pace attack. Philander and Morkel are definitely better than the Zimbabwe attack

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 13:58 GMT)

Absolutely silent warrior to shut the critics noise ,honest and focused leader ,knows his role and mission,Their opponent know him more than his country people.

Posted by teamxxx on (October 22, 2013, 13:50 GMT)

well I do agree what Misbah is saying, as we all know the fragile batting of Pakistan, what we have seen in the 2nd innings, while chasing only 40 runs they lost 3 wickets and again there was Misbah who rescued the Pak Ship from the hands of Steyn n philander.we always find him "The Last Man Standing" whenever a situation arise, and in Pakistan's case there is always a"situation".he knows the batting ability of Pak Team.So if there is no Amla or Steyn u can't take Saffers easy ,because they are the world's number1side,and can bounce back quite hard,so there is no space for complacency or over confidence, they just need to play normally n positively. I am a great fan of Firdose Moonda, you are doing a great job, keep the good work going.

Posted by Nigah on (October 22, 2013, 13:50 GMT)

Nice piece of writing Moonda.

Posted by likeintcricket on (October 22, 2013, 13:49 GMT)

SA are not England and that's what I have learned about them in last 22 years. They are more methodical and more aggressive. I will not be surprised if they win last two Test and win the series. But personally I am satisfied with Pakistan show. By beating the #1 side so easily in 4 days proves a lot. They are still a force despite having so many negative factors. Some of their world class players are banned, some of them politically retired,their board in a mess, their structure in a mess, their internal struggles among players, no money like India has and no team come to their country but still they bring the best in opposition.

Posted by sherishahmir on (October 22, 2013, 13:48 GMT)

Realistic comments by a good captain and hope Pak team will play to the best of their abilities and with positive frame of mind for winning the second test and series with 2-0 margin.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 13:41 GMT)

Only Chance of pakistan winning the 2nd test is batting first and posting a first inning total around 350.Dale Steyn is not a threat in these conditions.Real chalange for pakistan is to tackle batsmen like Kallis and devlliars as amla is not playing. I dont Like Mibah batting style and his approach produce a negetive impact.I still remember his knock against india he was blocking and blocking even against a bowler like Yuvraj when runrate wase pileing this also happen recently in CT match against Saf.I request selecters to please groom player like Hamad Azam,Shoaib Maqsood, in place of him for the wc.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 13:39 GMT)

love Misbah's down to earth approach.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 13:39 GMT)

Misbah is great and can serve Pakistan for at least 5 years.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 13:36 GMT)

pak going to beat south africa this match also and series 2-0 .its my perdiction.if amla and steyn not playng tmmorow pak should have to win this game .good luck paki

Posted by Me_A_Gemini on (October 22, 2013, 13:35 GMT)

Misbah has a very good cricketing mind. I am sure he will cover all his basis and prepare a good backup for any possible situation that Pak could face, based on Pak team history. I am sure, if not match, the series will be definitely end in Pak favor, INSHALLAH.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 13:34 GMT)

Raja Tahir uk misbah is wright Pakistan should win 2nd test South Africa is under pressure they should play Imran Tahir and Pakistan should have Umar akmal in test team in future

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 13:30 GMT)

Misbah should be Test Series Captain and not Odi's , if younis khan was the captain then Abdul Razzaq would have been playing in the team as he truly deserves to play. No one has ever criticised misbah-ul-haq without the pakistan team loosing on below par standards again and again for these things to be rectified people speak up and surely he has improved his game also but if in ODI's he persist with his defensive mindset i think he will see Pakistan loose more series and that will leave him out of the team very fast too. If he's handling pressure down the order with defensive approach he should at NO 3 then there's no pressure up there after loosing 1 wicket and should be able to play good cricket its really about doing things the way they should be without any excuses and if you don't do it then people wouldn't be very cheerful of you. If Afridi is careless in his shot selections then people criticize him too there's really no special attraction 4 ppl having a go at MR Misbah-ul-Haq.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 13:22 GMT)

I dont understand how anyone can critise Misbah. He is one of the better batsmen out there at the moment... Good on him for ignoring any false critizism that might come his way. And this is coming from an extremely proud South African supporter.

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