Misbah-ul-Haq is always under scrutiny for his “so-called” defensive outlook, and no matter how brilliant he is on the field for Pakistan, the blame invariable is apportioned to Misbah.
To appreciate Misbah’s worth, it is necessary to look closely at his overall statistics and the strides he has taken as a batsman. From playing that irresponsible scoop shot in 2007 T20 World Cup final to being the lynchpin of Pakistan’s batting; Misbah has come a long way. He takes his time at the start to lay a solid foundation, but as the innings progresses, he accelerates.
In his last 20 One-Day Internationals (ODIs), Misbah has scored 959 runs at an average of 63.93, with a strike rate of 72.15. He has scored 11 fifties in this period. More often than not, he comes into bat when Pakistan have been struggling with little support at the other end. Under these circumstances, Misbah performs three roles:
1. Hold the innings together after a top order collapse.
2. Rebuilds the innings without taking too many risks.
3. Plays the role of a finisher.
For a man who performs all these roles effectively and scores at an average of 45.39; 73.39 is not at all a bad strike rate. Misbah’s approach is very similar to Jonathan Trott’s for England — bide time at the beginning of the innings and accelerate later on. But unlike Trott, Misbah doesn’t have the qualitative support like Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen.
In the last 20 ODIs, Pakistan have scored 4,127 runs, of which 959 — 23.23 percent — have come from Misbah’s bat. These numbers clearly tell us how much the team depends on Misbah’s batting. It’s shocking how a person can be heaped so much criticism after scoring nearly one-fourth of the team runs. Misbah has been a centrifugal force for Pakistan. The failure of the other batsmen in the team has been the biggest reason for the appalling results in the last 12 months.
Misbah is capable of hitting big sixes, and he has got the ability to make up for the dot balls consumed in the middle overs. These numbers will help in the better understanding of the author’s statement:
Best batting averages in successful chases (ODIs) [Qual: 1000 runs]
Batsman Strike rate
1 Mahendra Singh Dhoni 100.09
2 Eoin Morgan 86.61
3 Michael Bevan 86.25
4 Misbah Ul Haq 85.93
5 Michael Clarke 83.43
The above statistics reveals Misbah’s importance for Pakistan as a finisher. Interestingly, Bevan, Clarke and Misbah have a similar kind of career strike rate (around 75), but the two Aussies have never been questioned for being slow. Reason: team support they had, unlike in Misbah’s case.
Misbah is a versatile batsman who can fit in any team’s scheme of things. He can alter his approach according to the need of the situation, but, unfortunately for him and Pakistan, he has been made to change a lot. The worst part is; he still gets criticised.
This article was first published in http://www.cricketcountry.com