The story of Misbah became legendary after he took the reins of the Pakistan cricket team
Former captain Misbahul Haq on September 4, 2019 became the most powerful figure in Pakistan cricket after being appointed as the head coach and chief selector for the national side by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
The veteran batsman has had a storied career as a cricketer. The story of Misbah became legendary after he took the reins of the Pakistan cricket team, as its captain, in the aftermath of the spot-fixing saga in 2010.
A man of crisis, an able leader and a calming influence, Misbah is much more than meets the eye. His life took some unexpected turns to create, arguably, the most divisive figure in the history of Pakistan cricket.
His recent appointment is a microcosm of his illustrious career. Thrust in a role many think he is ineligible for, the deck is stacked against Misbah once more. But before you write him off, take a look at these top-five moments that shaped his career and created a legend.
The last man standing (T20 World Cup final, 2007)
One of the best finals in the history of the cricketing world, the sub-continental giants’ faced-off in the first International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Twenty-20 (T20) World Cup. The showcase event ended in tragedy for Pakistan and was ultimately decided in the last over.
The image of Misbah, hunched down on the pitch with his head down, while India celebrated their World Cup triumph is forever etched in the hearts of most people.
What is easy to forget is that Misbah was the last-man standing between India and victory. From a horrible start it was him who guided Pakistan to safety. At 77 for 6 all hope seemed lost for Pakistan. The big stage of the World Cup and a final against India would break the resolve of most men. Misbah, however, rallied the tailenders when Pakistan required 81 runs off 48 balls. The last over alone required 12 runs with just one-wicket in hand.
Pacer Mohammad Asif stood and watched on the other end as Misbah tried and failed. Love him or hate him, the man stood tall on that day.
A catch for the ages (India v Pakistan, Asia Cup 2008)
Misbah, the old veteran, showed the world in the tense Indo-Pak match what a committed and fit veteran can accomplish when he took a one-handed blinder to remove Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir.
The man, whose critics referred to as too old, put the youngsters’ heads to shame with his acrobatic effort which galvanised the team. The one-handed catch remains to this day a highlight of Misbah’s illustrious career.
The crying gesture (Pakistan v Sri Lanka, first Test, 2014)
The calm Misbah was nowhere to be seen when Pakistan faced Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi during the final day of the first Test match between the sides on January 4, 2014. Pakistan were racing against the clock to chase down a mammoth target of 302. What stood in their way were the dimming lights along with the insistence from Sri Lanka’s players that play should be called off.
Misbah completed the remarkable chase and then his unique celebration created an iconic moment that would last in the minds of the Pakistani fans for generations.
The unlikely record (Pakistan v Australia, second Test, 2014)
Misbahul Haq long referred to as ‘tuk tuk’, a reference to his defensive batting style, would not have been the ideal candidate when you think about the record for the fastest Test century.
When it was time to hit the pedal against Australia in the second Test at Abu Dhabi in 2014, Misbah finally unleashed his aggressive side and it was a sight to behold.
Misbah scored a century off 56 balls (11 fours and 5 sixes) and equalled the record for the fastest century with Vivian Richards.
The salute that shook the world (Pakistan v England, first Test, 2016)
Lords became the ground of Misbah’s greatest triumph. Faced with a daunting task of a spirited England in their home ground, Misbah scored a century, rallied his troops and produced one of the most breath-taking displays which helped Pakistan win an improbable Test match at Lords.
The aftermath of his hundred at lords stunned detractors and onlookers alike. Misbah went down for ten push-ups and then offered a salute to the cameras.
For Misbah the push-ups were a response to all his detractors who believed he was too old for international cricket. The salute was a sign of respect sent to the military officers who provided physical training to the players before their tour of England.