By Syed Khalid Mahmood
By the look of things Misbah-ul-Haq has been jolted with his omission from the Pakistan squads for the upcoming series of One-day Internationals, Twenty20 Internationals and Test matches against New Zealand.
The Pakistan squads were announced on October 22 and it appears as if Misbah was simply unaware of the line of thinking of the members of the national selection committee. His ‘informers’ were probably caught napping. Otherwise he might not have reacted so sharply when he came to know about his exclusion.
If Misbah had any idea of the selectors ruling him out from every squad he might have been tempted to use political channels to stay in the team.
There’s also a possibility that the decision to drop him was somehow kept a secret or the selection committee received the go-ahead signal from the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) at the eleventh hour.
Whatever the reasons of his sacking, whether right or right, the selectors have certainly been embarrassed because on the same day Misbah scored an unbeaten 153 for Sui Northern Gas Company Limited (SNGCL) against Lahore Shalimar at the LCCA Ground in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy to dispel thoughts of loss of form.
I don’t think it’s going to be the end of the road for Misbah in international cricket as some of the commentators have passed the pressure. In fact I won’t be surprised if he regains his spot in the team even during the upcoming series against New Zealand.
The ball is in the court of Misbah and if plays his cards sensibly, besides scoring heavily and consistently in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, the selectors might be prompted to recall him for the Test series later this year. If he could not be sent as replacement to New Zealand, he will be a strong contender for the series against Australia that follows soon afterwards.
There is plenty of cricket ahead for Pakistan in the next 12 months and Misbah can’t be written off so soon. He has the potential to stage a comeback. With Pakistan now playing even their ‘home’ matches abroad there’s greater chance of a vacancy being created in the batting department.
Misbah did have a poor run in all the three formats last year, after being so successful the year before, but he still has a lot to offer and there’s every chance for him returning to the national team sooner than later.
Misbah is a mentally tough character. He has shown his worth against strong teams after making a dramatic comeback in the international arena during the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007. He very nearly earned the crown for Pakistan almost single-handedly.
He then consolidated his position in the Test team by playing some fabulous knocks on Pakistan’s last tour to India in 2007-08. He became a permanent member of the team but with the return of Mohammad Yousuf and the advent of newcomers like Umar Akmal and his own form declining, the selectors now have given him a break.
Misbah would be hoping that this indeed is just a break and he could return with a bang in not too distant future.
October 23, 2009