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Why the PCB need to move on from Misbah ul-Haq

A dejected Misbah ul-Haq following defeat to England in Southampton
A dejected Misbah ul-Haq following defeat to England in Southampton
ANALYST
Modified 07 Nov 2020, 15:15 IST
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The appointment of Misbah ul-Haq as Pakistan's head coach and chief selector ahead of last season's Quaid-e-Azam trophy drew a lot of flak from local cricketers.

For the first time in Pakistan's cricket history, the two significant cricketing responsibilities were entrusted to a single person. While there is little doubt about Misbah ul-Haq's success and pedigree at the highest level, question marks remained over the brand of cricket he could choose to pursue.

More importantly, besides bestowing two of the highest roles in Pakistan Cricket, the PCB also permitted the legend from Mianwali to coach the PSL franchise, Islamabad United.

At the time of the announcement, Misbah ul-Haq had four roles - head coach, chief selector and batting coach of the national team, and the head coach of a PSL franchise. It seemed that with no other viable alternative options in hand, the PCB had to give Misbah ul-Haq the responsibility for all these roles.

Misbah ul-Haq's safety-first approach spectacularly backfires

A weakened Sri Lanka stunned Pakistan in the T20 series.
A weakened Sri Lanka stunned Pakistan in the T20 series.

The retired player's first assignment was a one-day series against a second-string Sri Lankan team at home, which Pakistan won 2-0. The T20 leg, however, turned out to be disastrous.

Misbah ul-Haq opted for an ultra-defensive selection strategy and called up experienced personnel to take on Sri Lanka in the T20 series. The likes of Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad, who were out of the international scene for a while and produced no performances to merit a call to the side, were recalled out of nowhere.

This move alone undermined the progress achieved under a new team management. What was more devastating was that a lineup consisting of the likes of Babar Azam, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir and Sarfraz Ahmed failed to win a single match in the series against a weakened Sri Lankan team, who outplayed Pakistan in every department.

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It was a bolt from the blue for the number one ranked T20 team at that time. The series - Misbah's first in his new position - barely laid a decent roadmap for the future. Misbah ul-Haq's safety-first approach in trying to win home series proved disastrous for the team and for his position as well.

Misbah ul-Haq made a U-turn and ignored experienced personnel for the tour of Australia

Australia had a comfortable Test series win against Pakistan at home.
Australia had a comfortable Test series win against Pakistan at home.

In a moment of sheer desperation and perhaps panic, Misbah ul-Haq assembled a battery of teenage fast bowlers in the hope of achieving something miraculous in Australia.

The move was criticised by many, as the likes of Mohammad Musa and Naseem Shah had barely played five first-class matches each. Ignoring the likes of Sohail Khan, Khusdil Shah and Tabish Khan - veteran first-class performers - drew a lot of ire from fans and experts alike. The results in Australia were expectedly forgettable.

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Apart from Babar Azam's batting exploits and a gutsy hundred from Yasir Shah, the Test series was utterly one-sided, with Pakistan barely winning a session. The visitors looked more like a team that wanted to go home.

The T20 leg was worse still, as Pakistan failed to show any fight. The first game was washed out; Pakistan lost the second by eight wickets and the third by ten. The team lacked discipline and quality, and it seemed that they had no plan B.

Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Imad Wasim all looked jaded, and their performances were nowhere near expectations. It was a hideous series for the Asian team, who barely retained their number one status in the format, courtesy of not getting white-washed.

Could Pakistan have had better results in the first two series under Misbah ul-Haq's helm?

A beleagured Misbah ul-Haq looks on.
A beleagured Misbah ul-Haq looks on.
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Under Misbah ul-Haq, Pakistan suffered five losses in six outings in the shortest format and two defeats in as many Test matches .

Had the team selection been better, perhaps the criticism would have been less harsh. However, Misbah ul-Haq seemed impulsive and a bit naive, showing little long-sightedness, which drew criticism from all corners.

Misbah ul-Haq quickly brought back the likes of Fawad Alam in Test cricket and the duo of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez to secure a home series win against Bangladesh, which brought more criticism about his team selection.

What was more astonishing was that Misbah ul-Haq defended the selection of teenage fast bowlers in Test cricket as a long-term move while continuing with 40-plus year-olds in the shortest format of the game. His decision to hold back teenage sensations in the shortest format of the game and persist with the likes of Mohammad Irfan, Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik baffled many. 

Another disappointment followed in England, where Pakistan managed to win just one game across formats before Misbah ul-Haq decided to step down as the chief selector. 

His coaching stint with Islamabad United was a massive failure as well. For the first time in PSL history, the franchise failed to make the playoffs. 

The former player's inexperience as a head coach was ruthlessly exposed in his one year in charge. His selection calls were not bold enough, and he resisted giving youngsters a decent run in the shortest format of the game.

The team's performance in Test cricket, a format that was arguably Misbah ul-Haq's strongest, wasn't impressive in any way.

He currently holds only one position in the PCB. Perhaps, it's time for the PCB to move on from Misbah ul-Haq and appoint a more experienced personnel at the helm.

Published 07 Nov 2020, 15:15 IST
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