Due to his recent exploits, many would have forgotten that Misbah-ul-Haq made his international debut way back in 2001. The unflappable leader pulled Pakistan from the doldrums of 2010 and helped them reach the top of the Test tree a few months back. Looking back on his career which is hurtling towards its final phase, he has hinted at the secret behind his endurance.
In an interview with renowned Pakistani sports anchor Mirza Iqbal Baig, the 42-year old shared an insight into his mental toughness whilst alluding to the thrilling 2007 World T20 final in Johannesburg.
Misbah claimed, “If I kept remembering Joginder Sharma and (Shanthakumaran) Sreesanth, I might have stopped playing cricket. I always believe that you leave the past behind, even the good things. Every day in cricket and life is a new day where you have to perform. If you dwell on the past or the future too much, performance becomes difficult. You can have regrets but there should be some limit so that it doesn't affect your present performances.”
It was a case of so near yet so far for the right-hander when India pulled off a narrow five-run victory and lifted the inaugural World T20 title in front of a packed Wanderers crowd. With 6 runs needed off the last 4 deliveries, he attempted an audacious scoop shot off a fuller one from Joginder and instead offered a straightforward catch to Sreesanth at short fine leg.
But, Pakistan would not have even gotten that close had it not been for his 38-ball 43. While such a heartbreak might have broken most players, Misbah relied on his determined nature and used it as a springboard to become his country’s most successful Test captain statistically.
On those of his ilk, he quipped, “In terms of mental strength, the likes of Javed Miandad, Steve Waugh and Inzamam-ul-Haq are the players I like. Others I like include Jacques Kallis and especially AB de Villiers – he is a top class batsman and you can't see anyone else like him in the world today.”
‘Planned to retire after playing against India‘
With a gruelling tour of Australia set to begin next month, Pakistan badly need his calm leadership and composed batting. But, as they often say, all good things must come to an end. According to him, it would have been much earlier with the proposed series against India (last year) serving as an ideal platform for his retirement. To his and everyone else’s dismay, the arch-rivals could not meet each other on the field due to political reasons.
Misbah revealed, “I had already planned to retire after playing a series against India before the (2016) tour of England. But I spoke to the cricket board and chairman about it, the England series was a tough one and giving a new player captaincy or introducing a new player in the lineup was difficult. The series against Australia will be difficult too, so I decided to stay on.”
He added, “Currently, my plan is to play till the Australia series and then I'll see during that about my future. If there is a replacement, then it's good to introduce him in the team at the right time.”
After completing the New Zealand series (which they trail 0-1 at the moment), Pakistan will travel to Australia in December for a tour comprising of three Tests and five ODIs.