Whether we fun-loving, mercurial, impulsive Pakistanis like it or not, the staid, boring, old-school Misbah-ul-Haq is our man in a cricketing crisis.
Time after time, he’s proved that he may not have the oomph of ‘Boom Boom Afridi’ or the flair of hard-hitting Younis Khan, but if you need a match-saver to step in, this is the guy you need.
At Lord’s on Thursday, when Pakistan were floundering at 77/3, the captain stepped in to the job a skipper is supposed to do, steer the team out of troubled waters and that too, in style. At 42, the most reliable player in the Pakistan side became the oldest captain to score a century – 110 not out, smashing the record of Australian skipper Bob Simpson, who at age 41, hit a century against India at the Adelaide Oval in 1978.
Incidentally, Misbah is the first 40-plus player in 90 years to score a century at Lord’s, the last 100’s by men over forty being hit in 1926 – England’s Jack Hobbs and Australia’s Warren Bardsley hitting a ton each in the same Test at the revered cricket ground.
The ‘conventional’ Misbah did give fans some unconventional memories to take home on this day though. After he hit the hundred, he went down on the turf, not to do the traditional ‘sajda’ that spectators have come to expect, but a quirky set of push-ups.
It was a promise fulfilled, and a tribute, he said, to the army guys at the Kakul military academy where the Green shirts had attended a fitness-building boot camp before the series.
The elan with which he then saluted the national flag fluttering atop the pavilion had fans cheering wildly. He proved once and for all that he may be sedate, but there are still sparks underneath that solid exterior.