||28 May 1974
The most remarkable aspect about Misbah-ul-Haq is his unflappable temperament. It shows in his batting, which reached unprecedented levels of consistency in 2011, and in his captaincy, which helped lift Pakistan from the depths of the spot-fixing saga in England in 2010. Taking over as leader immediately after that episode at the age of 36, Misbah's calm approach was exactly what Pakistan cricket needed after the tumultuous period it had gone through. As a batsman, Misbah can either defend dourly with unflagging patience, or irritate bowlers with his improvisations. It helps that his defensive technique is sound: that solid foundation has helped him bat for long periods in Test cricket. That aspect of his game was in evidence right from his first Test innings in 2001, when he survived over two hours to score 28 in Auckland. He should have played much more international cricket thereafter, but was held back by his inconsistency. For four years between 2003 and 2007, he didn't play a single Test, and only turned up for a handful of ODIs. However, a run-filled domestic season, followed by club cricket in England and Inzamam's retirement from ODIs, prompted the board to award Misbah a central contract in July 2007. A month later, he was surprisingly picked, ahead of Mohammad Yousuf, for the 15-man squad for the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa. He repaid the selectors' faith by finishing the tournament as Pakistan's best player and nearly taking them to victory in the final. He continued the good run on the tour to India later that year, scoring two hundreds, each of which spanned more than 400 minutes. However, it was in 2011 that Misbah truly rose above the crowd and established his credentials as a top-class batsman and a leader of men. He was in charge when Pakistan completed one of their greatest Test series wins - a 3-0 sweep over the then No. 1 side, England in early 2012. Perhaps it's his degree in business management that has helped him manage, and get the best out of, a team as unpredictable as Pakistan.