Thursday, July 3, 2008

Asia Cup 2008: Misbah the Captain!

Pakistan had lost badly to India and Sri Lanka. They had failed to defend 300 as well as chase it.

They were going into a game that they could not afford to lose to keep their hopes of an Asia Cup final alive. They were up against an opponent who had had the better of them in the recent past.

Their batsmen were not firing whereas India's, Sri Lanka's, and even Bangladesh's were knocking 100s left, right, and centre.

Their bowlers had looked listless against the Gambhirs, Sehwags, Sangakkaras, Jayasuriyas, Rainas, Dhonis et all.

Given all this leading up to a crunch game against India with the captain's availability in doubt, what does one do?

One can do a lot to lift a team, but what Misbah, the stand-in captain, did was something that seemed a bit over confident and out of character for a Pakistan captain.

During the press conference on the eve of the match, to a question on whether he was ready for the captaincy or not, Misbah responded with:

"I am ready for the captaincy. When you are vice-captain you always are ready for nearly everything, so I am ready for it. I will take along the team with me and win the match."

Misbah had also talked about how it would be India who would be under more pressure than Pakistan, something that Osman Samiuddin had termed "Cute Kidology".

It definitely was that given the recent perfrmances of both the teams.

Then came the morning of the match.

Pakistan lost Shoaib Malik and Misbah was told to walk out for the toss. Now it was in Misbah's hands to make sure he and the team lived up to what he had talked about the night before.

Misbah lost the toss. India went into bat and posted 308.

Pakistan were chasing a total of over 300, something they had failed to do earlier in the tournament, and something they had successfully done only 4 times before this match.


And boy, did he deliver!

Not only did Pakistan chase that total down, they did so comfortably, and Misbah was right there in the middle when it happened hitting the winning runs.

Misbah took the team along with him as he had mentioned and won the match.

Misbah, who in the past had been criticized for not finishing matches, did just that last night - he finished it and remained unbeaten on 70 in an unbroken partnership of 144 with Younis Khan.

Misbah made India look like the team that was under more pressure. Again something he had talked about earlier.

In the post match conference he talked about being positive - about how he had told his bowlers to remain positive despite going for 8-9 runs an over and about how he had told his openers to go out and be positive rather than preserve wickets.

The result of that was India, who were 88 for no loss after 10 overs, slipped to 91-3 at the end of 12. And the result of that was an opening partnership of 65 in 8 overs, which could have been more had it not been for the misunderstanding between Salman and Nasir.

What Misbah said could have backfired, but last night, Misbah looked like the hero.

He looked like the man in charge who was living up to what he had talked about and he looked like the man who could lead Pakistan cricket going forward.

Make your pitch on this post...

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2 Pitched:

  1. Unknown said...

    seems like its curtains for malik

    sad... just as he took some responsibility and stepped up with the bat

    its going to be interesting to see what develops after this series

  2. Q said...

    I know Saqib - this was the first tournament where Malik the batsman was actually performing since getting the captaincy.

    Yet for some reason he still seems to be low on confidence.

    We need a more authoritative person in charge, and Misbah looks like the only answer.

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