Very rarely will you find a batsman who can adapt to all forms of cricket, on all kinds of surfaces, against any type of attack thrown at him with consummate ease. Misbah-ul-Haq, a household hero in Pakistan today, has been one of the brighter stars of Pakistan's cricket in the second half of the first decade at the turn of the millennium during which most of the players turned into black holes or dying stars for Pakistan.
Misbah-ul-Haq came into prominence in the 2007 World Twenty20 when he nearly led Pakistan to an improbable victory over arch rivals India in the tournament's final. If it wasn't for the mistimed scoop shot, the World Cup could have well been Pakistan's.
At 33, many cricketers are at the fag end of their careers, however, for Misbah, it was just the start. Many argued that his presence earlier would have given much solidity to a batting order filled with youngsters who had a tendency to be brash. But few remember that in early 2000, Misbah had his opportunities both in Tests and ODIs, and was only dropped after he failed to muster up decent scores even after being granted numerous opportunities.
Despite continuing to score prolifically in the domestic circuit, selectors felt that he had used up his chances and there seemed no way back for the right-hander. But on the eve of the 2007 World Twenty20, the selectors did a U-turn and Misbah repaid their faith with a stellar campaign. His performances won him places both in the Test and ODI arena and he continued his rich vein of form with a fine 2007 tour to India where he scored hundreds in back-to-back Tests. In ODIs, he had a successful series in 2008 against West Indies and also led Pakistan to victory in a game against the Aussies.
In late 2010 following Salman Butt's dismissal for the match fixing controversy and with Afridi’s reluctance to take up the post, Misbah was handed Pakistan's Test captaincy reins. ODI captaincy followed post the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup after Shahid Afridi relinquished his leadership. Misbah was also eventually handed the Twenty20 captaincy, which he gave up in 2012. One of his biggest achievements as a captain came in 2012 when he powered Pakistan to a 3-0 clean sweep over England in the Test series in the UAE and then went on to guide Pakistan to an ODI series win over India in India.
Misbah-ul-Haq represented Bangalore in the inaugural version of the Indian T20 League until Pakistani players went out of contention in the following editions due to political tension between the two countries. With age, Misbah got even better and his fitness stood by him all through. In 2011, Misbah averaged more than 60 in Tests and over 50s in the ODIs. In 2013, when Pakistan's batting woes reached a crescendo, Misbah, an MBA graduate, was a stand-out, scoring over 1000 runs in the calendar year.
2014-15 was a difficult period for Pakistan and Misbah, unable to register victories consistently. He had his last laugh, taking Pakistan to the quarters of the 2015 ICC World Cup, where he came up against a dominant Aussie side. The skipper finally called it quits from international cricket after his side's exit from the mega event. Apart from the despair of failing to win the 2007 ICC WT20, the only other sorrow in Misbah's heart would be his not scoring a single ODI ton. He ended his ODI career with a best of 96 not out.
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