A series win in West Indies was perhaps a fitting end to one of Pakistan’s most inspirational captains of all time- Misbah-ul-Haq.
The 42-year old batsman had taken the captaincy of Pakistan team when it was going through one of its darkest phases. The team could not play cricket at home due to security concern and the fixing -scandal during the 2010 tour of England only plummeted Pakistan cricket to further darkness. They were ranked sixth in the world and were looking like moving in only one downward direction. However, Misbah was not willing to sit idly and see the team move in the wrong direction.
The veteran batsman led the team to a remarkable turnaround and even led them to the number one in the longest format of the game. Under his captaincy, Pakistan registered series victories against the likes of Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka in UAE but his finest moment came last year when Pakistan drew 2-2 in England and reached the pinnacle of Test cricket for the first time since the ranking was introduced.
The last few months were not memorable for him as he faced widespread criticism following the whitewashed in New Zealand and Australia. But he bowed out of international cricket in style as he led the team to a historic first ever Test series win in the West Indies. Along with him another stalwart of Pakistan cricket-Younis Khan also bid adieu to the game. Both the legends were carried off the field, on the shoulders of the younger teammates and looked more than content with the way their career ended.
Speaking after the match, a delighted Misbah admitted that he could not have asked for a better end to his illustrious career.
“Nothing better than that (the win). Whatever success I got throughout my career and then especially an end like that, couldn’t have asked for better,” the skipper said.
The game ended in a dramatic fashion with Shannon Gabriel’s moment of madness costing him his wicket and his team the match. Playing the last ball of the penultimate over of the series bowled by Yasir Khan, the tail-ender swung his bat hard to a wide delivery but only managed to drag it onto his stumps, giving Pakistan a famous victory.
“When the game just hangs (till) an over before, it’s difficult. Both teams were under pressure and it was a matter of nerves. Credit to the bowlers, who bowled their heart out on a slow track, especially the seamers,” Misbah said.
“Yasir came back for his spells like that. They (the bowlers) believed in themselves, that we are gonna make it, that we need it badly. And it was the first ever win for Pakistan in the West Indies, so everyone was so motivated. A lot of frustrations, no ball, out, and then we dropped a couple of chances here and there. But you enjoy wins like that much more than a straightforward win,” added Misbah, who led Pakistan in record 56 Tests.
After lauding his bowlers, Misbah shifted his focus to his partner and another legend who was retiring from the game along with him. Both the players have had enjoyed each other’s company to a great extent as they added 3213 runs together – the most by a pair for Pakistan.
“Special thanks to Younis. Wish him best of luck. It was a very fine journey with him, especially in the middle, sharing a lot of partnerships. And loved every moment of that.
“In the history books, my name will come with him. He’s a legend. He’s a top performer for Pakistan – 34 centuries and 10,000 runs. It’s something special that my name will come with him,” Misbah said.
Misbah, who led Pakistan to their most number of wins outside the home – 26, concluded his speech by thanking his family members, fans and everyone even remotely associated with his career.
“Want to thank my family, my mum and sisters, especially my wife who supported me a lot. And especially this series. She convinced me to come. My son is not here, he will be just watching on TV and I’m missing him. He has his exams, so couldn’t travel.
“Want to thank everyone, coaching staff, trainers, doctors, colleagues, teammates, class fellows, teachers who really supported me throughout my career and life, and who will be praying for me. And fans overall, throughout the world. It’s not just about Pakistan. Even here in West Indies, all the guys have been coming to me and wishing me all the best in the rest of the life.
“It’s life. Everything has to end, whether it’s bad or good. I am happy with what I had in this career. What a finish. Couldn’t have asked for more,” Misbah signed off.