As Misbah Ul Haq and Younis Khan graced the game of cricket for one last time for Pakistan in the third Test against West Indies, we talked to veteran cricket journalists about the role the legendary duo has in Pakistan cricket.
Qamar Ahmed, Rasheed Shakoor, Rizwan Ehsan and Shahid Hashmi believe that the pair of Misbah Ul Haq and Younis Khan have an extremely important role in Pakistan cricket. The experienced journalists feel praise their contributions when Pakistan team was down and out due to controversies and absence of cricket in home grounds.
“The time Misbah Ul Haq became captain, Pakistan’s team was a defeated and a broken team, they were performing poorly, then they were victim of spot-fixing in 2010 where Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif got into controversy. The player who united them all was Misbah Ul Haq,” said Qamar Ahmed, who has covered over 400 Tests and 700 ODIs as a journalist.
Qamar Ahmed also highlighted Younis Khan’s role in Pakistan cricket as he is the highest scorer for the country and first one to break the barrier of 10,000 Test runs.
“Younis Khan’s role is also very important as he is the highest Test run-scorer for Pakistan, he has scored 10,000 runs in Test cricket and he is to be called as the only Pakistani batsman to do so as there is nowhere near the milestone,” he said.
Shahid Hashmi coined Misbah and Younis as the most prominent and shining gems of Pakistan batting’s crown. He feels that Pakistan Test team will surely miss the presence of the legendary batting duo in their dressing room as they were their saviors whenever they were in trouble.
“Whenever you see they are (Pakistan) 3 out for 10, 3 out for 17, 3 out on 45 runs, from that point the two used to save the sinking ship of Pakistan batting line. They have scored 3,205 runs in partnership, 15 centuries stands they have made together. These two are the most prominent and shiniest gems of Pakistan batting’s crown,” said Shahid Hashmi of ARY News.
BBC’s journalist Rasheed Shakoor told that Misbah and Younis have played an immense role in stabilizing Pakistan team after the 2010 episode that shook this game in the country.
“If we look at Younis Khan’s career, although he scored a century in his debut Test, still he had to struggle to permanently cement his place in the side. The case was similar with Misbah Ul Haq,” he said. “The 2010 episode changed the face of Pakistan cricket and these two players were seen on the mainstream scene, they were seen as valuable players afterwards,” he added.
“Misbah as a captain and as a batsman and then Younis Khan as a middle-order batsman, there is no doubt that their contribution is essential for where Pakistan team is standing at the moment, their batting and their commitment have an important role in it,” he further said.
Rizwan Ehsan took the point further as he compared the pair of Misbah and Younis with the Two W’s. He believes that they had played a similar role for their team as Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis played together throughout their careers in the bowling department.
“Misbah and Younis have similar role in Pakistan cricket as of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis’ pair in bowling had during their playing in days, Younis Khan and Misbah are similar in the batting department,” said the AP journalist.
Misbah and Younis, who have been called as MisYou by the cricketing fraternity since they announced their retirement, served as Pakistan batting’s backbone for the last seven years or so. But, it was probably the right time for them to take farewell and serve cricket in some other capacity.
Rizwan Ehsan wants to see the pair grooming young cricketers as mentors or coaches of Pakistan U-19 team, Pakistan U-23 or Pakistan A.
“We can utilize them by giving them mentorship of U-19, U-23, Pakistan A or national team, if they do mentorship in some way then they can groom batsmen. If we can bring foreign batting coach for national team then why not make the most of their experience?,” he asked.
On the other hand, Shahid Hashmi wants Misbah to hold the position Director Domestic Cricket and improve the domestic structure with his input.
“In my perspective, ideally Misbah should be given the role of Director Domestic Cricket to improve Pakistan’s domestic cricket, his contribution in domestic cricket can be used to improve it,” he said. “For Younis Khan, it has been heard that he will be made U-19 team’s mentor, he should be made mentor,” he added.
The four journalists shared their fond memories of Pakistan’s legendary batting pair. Rizwan Ehsan revisited Younis Khan’s century on his debut Test that he played against Sri Lanka in about 17 years back.
“The most memorable moment of Younis Khan, the time he made his Test debut in Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Pakistan lost that Test match by two wickets against Sri Lanka, but the significance of that Test match was that Younis Khan scored a century in the second inning and that century probably gave Pakistan a lead of 220 runs.
“In that second inning, I still remember, Pakistan probably conceded a lead of 180 runs and Younis Khan was at the crease till the end, he was the last batsman to get out. He had a partnership of almost 150 runs with Wasim Akram for the eighth wicket, that partnership gave Pakistan a 220 runs lead,” he recalled.
Rizwan believes the way Khan bore the pressure in that game showed his class and he then constantly took pressure for Pakistan team throughout his career.
“There are many memories of his, he has scored 34-35 centuries in Test cricket, although Pakistan lost that Test match, but in the kind of pressure Younis Khan scored that century in his first Test match was remarkable, he kept bearing that pressure for 119 Test matches,” he added.
On the other hand, the experienced AP journalist remembers Misbah Ul Haq’s moments as a team, “The fond memories of Misbah Ul Haq are as a team.”
“The one is where they defeated England 3-0 in the UAE, it was probably 2012-13 series, in that series Pakistan defeated the then no.1 Test side. Pakistan also won against Australia by 3-0 in the UAE, it was a wonderful performance. Then in the previous year, we drew a series against England in England by 2-2, it was also a marvelous feat, there are many similar victories of Misbah Ul Haq that are memorable for Pakistan team,” he shared.
Rasheed Shakoor remembers Younis Khan’s masterful knock in Bangalore against India, where he scored a double century that took Pakistan over the line and received standing ovation from the crowd.
“Personally, the century Younis Khan scored a double-century in Bangalore against India i my favourite, Pakistan won that match, and it was Inzamam Ul Haq’s 100th Test,” he told.
Qamar Ahmed also believes that it was a flawless inning from a resilient Younis Khan on a flawless batting track.
“In my view, the most memorable performance of Younis Khan is when Pakistan won Bangalore Test, where he scored a double century. It was a brilliant inning, the South India crowd of Bangalore gave standing ovation to Younis Khan. As it is said a perfect inning on a perfect batting track, it is always a treat to watch that,” he said.
Rasheed Shakoor and Qamar Ahmed coined Misbah’s inning where he equaled Sir Viv Richards’ record of fastest century on 56 deliveries as their favourite Misbah moment.
“Misbah’s best inning that many people remember and like, I too like that inning where he scored the fastest century on 56 balls and equaled Viv Richards’ record in Abu Dhabi. It was a delightful moment for me,” said Shakoor.
Whereas, Shahid Hashmi’s fond moments of the legendary duo differ from his colleagues. His favourite Misbah moment has been his iconic celebration after scoring a century in the historic venue of Lord’s.
“The fondest memory of Misbah Ul Haq for me was his celebration after scoring the century at Lord’s, he gave tribute to Pakistan army training and then he performed push-ups, it became a style of celebration all over the world, whether they were Lord’s groundsmen or commentators, they all adopted the push-up style,” he shared.
Whereas, his fondest memory of Younis Khan is not any of his inning, but a statement that took the world by storm.
“The fond memory of Younis Khan for me is when he was not picked for an ODI series before World Cup, we caught him before Friday prayers and he said ‘A player like me should shoot himself?’,” he shared with a laughter.
The most successful Test skipper of the country and the highest run-scorer in Test cricket have left a huge vacuum in the national side. It seems like Pakistan is yet to find a suitable replacement to fill the big shoes of MisYou. Rizwan Ehsan says it is a million Dollar question that who will fill this gap.
“Who will be the two players to replace Misbah and Younis, is a million Dollar question and probably Pakistan Cricket Board is also yet to find its answer,” he said.