Pakistan’s 43-year old captain Misbah Ul Haq and the highest run getter for Pakistan in Tests, Younis Khan are set to play their last Test with the Pakistan’s ‘Star’ badge on their chest in Dominica on Wednesday.
The third Test of the series, which is currently levelled at 1-1, will be Misbah and Younis’ last outing for Pakistan. The Men in Green have never won a Test series in Caribbean, a win in the final Test would be perfect send off for the experienced duo.
Azhar Ali expressed his emotions while talking to ESPNCricinfo ahead of the third Test of the series against West Indies.
“We are very emotional too, just the thought that the dressing room will be without them (Misbah Ul Haq and Younis Khan) feels strange, and will do so for a while,” said Azhar Ali.
He further told that he was utterly surprised when he came to know about their retirement plans as they are still so fit in this age.
“For us, it’s hard to register that they won’t be in the dressing room after this series; we can’t imagine life without them. We were just so surprised at them retiring because they’re still so fit, perhaps the fittest players in our squad,” he added.
Azhar Ali recalled that when Misbah took over the captaincy, it was a sensitive time for Pakistan cricket as the team was looking to get back their dignity.
“When Misbah took over as captain, it was a low point in Pakistan cricket. At that time, we were fighting to regain our very dignity and Misbah kept impressing upon us that we had to earn back the faith of our supporters,” he told.
He further told that Misbah always believed in hard work and giving their best irrespective of the result. “The one thing that was very important to him was that, whatever the outcome, we must give our absolute best. I personally took that advice to heart and it simply wouldn’t have been possible to achieve what we did without Misbah,” he added.
He praised Misbah’s capability of staying calm under pressure, “His own demeanour is an example in itself. He is mentally calm and has nerves of steel. It is hard to explain in words how important he was in soothing the nerves of everyone when we were under pressure.”
Talking about Younis Khan, Azhar Ali said that one can learn a lot from the batting maestro, his work ethic is of top level.
“Younis might appear different, but his work ethic is just exemplary. When I was starting off in cricket, I saw how he set about working on his game, how he trained, how he maintained his fitness and what he did in the nets and I thought, ‘This person is worth following.’
“Watching him play when you’re at the other end, you learn so much, but at the same town, he doesn’t bombard you with advice, letting you play your game instead. Only if he feels you’ve made a big mistake or you’re struggling badly will he come up and talk to you. And obviously his achievements speak for themselves. That’s what has earned him global respect,” he added.