Sun, Oct 20, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq defies age and odds

AFP, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

Last month Misbah-ul-Haq was facing calls to be sacked as captain after Pakistan suffered embarrassing defeats in a one-day and Test matches against minnows Zimbabwe.

That came on the back of Pakistan’s 3-0 humiliation at the hands of the No. 1 ranked Test team South Africa and then a first round exit from the Champions Trophy in England added fuel to the fire.

Former players and fans were gunning for Misbah, often criticized for a defensive approach — both in batting and captaincy.

However, Thursday’s seven-wicket win over South Africa in Abu Dhabi completed his three-years at the helm in style as the 39-year-old proved he still is the best man to lead Pakistan.

He is fitter than most of his younger teammates, and is his country’s leading scorer in one-day games and Tests this year.

Misbah held together Pakistan’s batting in Abu Dhabi, scoring 100 in the first innings and then sealing victory with an imperious 28.

On a personal front too, the three-figure score was a big relief for Misbah.

“It’s really important,” Misbah said. “I think there’s nothing more special than a 100 for a batsman, so that was really something special that it was made against the No. 1 team in the world.”

However, despite his excellent form and exemplary fitness, questions are being asked about who will lead Pakistan in the 2015 World Cup.

Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja said Misbah’s fitness and form will hold the key.

“I don’t know whether he will survive until the 2015 World Cup or not. It would be tough and his age will always come into question, there will be a lot of pressure, but his fitness and performance will be the key,” Raja said.

Nevertheless, Misbah seems to have left other captaincy contenders — Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi and Younis Khan — far behind.

While Malik, Hafeez and Afridi are struggling to keep their places, Younis’ one-day career seems all but over after he was left out of Pakistan’s squad for South Africa one-dayers.

Former Pakistan batsman Basit Ali said Misbah has revived Pakistan after the 2010 spot-fixing case which ended in bans on then-captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir.

“I think Misbah has done a good job after what happened in 2010,” Basit said. “Just take into account that Misbah inherited the weakest ever Pakistan team. I think fans must give him space and time to decide on his career.”

Misbah vows to carry on.

“I have no plans to retire,” he said last month. “I don’t know why people bring my age into question, why not talk about my fitness and form which are both good,” he said. “I will continue as long as I am doing well and am fit.”

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