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Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan's stellar careers a testament to their determination and hard work

Saeed Ajmal and Misbah-ul-Haq were exchanging banter on our flight back to Pakistan from Hong Kong, and the conversation led to Ajmal discussing slip catching. Ajmal believed the best slip fielder he had ever seen was Misbah before playing with Younis Khan. He turned to Misbah and said, “Younis bhai is the best slip fielder, right?” and Misbah didn’t just nod, he agreed emphatically and went on to talk about Younis like only a die-hard fan would.

This wasn’t the first time I had heard Misbah praising Younis in such a manner and it was no surprise when Misbah said in his farewell speech that he is honored to have his name mentioned in the same breath as Younis. Misbah mentioned something really strange during our journey, he looked at Ajmal and asked, “What is up with Younis’ level one training?" and they both started laughing.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq (L) is consoled by teammate and fellow retiree Younis Khan. AFP

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq (L) is consoled by teammate and fellow retiree Younis Khan. AFP

I was perplexed so I asked them what was so strange about his level one training, and the answer was even stranger: “I have seen most international players train but I have never seen the method Younis bhai uses. He asks the bowlers to bowl full at him and he plays all the full balls on the back foot. Then he asks them to bowl bouncers at him and he plays them on the front foot," said Misbah. I wondered why he did this and before I could ask, Ajmal stepped in and explained that Younis thinks if you miss the length from the bowler’s hand and are completely out of position, you still need to find a way to play the ball and that is why he does this very strange drill.

That explained a lot, you often see Younis batting and he seems completely out of position but somehow manages to conjure up some sort of a shot. Nothing with Younis is ever without a cause or a reason, his entire career is a testament to his hard work and will to defy his doubters.

Younis once told me that he is a very limited batsman and not as skilled as some of his predecessors, and here he is retiring having scored more runs, more centuries and won more matches than any of his Pakistani predecessors. The thing with Younis is that he always finds his own methods, he isn’t your textbook batsman; he is street smart and a man who believes in nurture over nature.

Often in Pakistan cricket, the two alphas of the team don’t get along. Going back to the days of Kardar and Fazal Mahmood, to Imran Khan and Javed Miandad, to Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis — there have always been issues. Misbah and Younis haven’t exactly seen eye to eye on a lot of things either.

When Younis was stripped of captaincy, Misbah wasn’t in the Younis camp despite the fact that it was Younis who wanted Misbah to be in the team back in the 2006 Champions Trophy. There might have been a feeling of betrayal but that didn’t affect performances on the field. Then Younis went on record before the England series in 2015 to say that he shouldn’t be compared to Misbah, another occasion when the captain of the team could have held a grudge against his ace batsman but no such thing happened. It was Younis and Misbah’s professionalism that superseded their personal issues, if any.

Recently former Pakistan Test captain Rashid Latif stated that Younis refused to take back his retirement despite a lot of pressure since he felt he wouldn’t be comfortable continuing on without Misbah. The amount of mutual professional respect these two have for each other is unparalleled in Pakistan cricket. It is only fitting that they retire together.

This #MisYou era started when Pakistan cricket was in complete turmoil, without a home and their image tarnished — Misbah was made captain to everyone’s surprise and Younis was brought back from exile. Their first task was to save a Test match versus a South African team that was the most dominant away side of the era. South Africa needed seven wickets on the last day when Misbah and Younis got together, batted for 57 overs and saved Pakistan from what looked like a certain defeat.

Seven years later, they retired with their head held high, on their own terms against the West Indies. While the match seemed to be slipping out of Pakistan’s hands — there were panic signs evident on faces of all the players — but Misbah smiled. While all other players were looking at each other for answers, Younis was ready with it.

Before Yasir Shah bowled the last delivery of their final match, Younis, who was standing at first slip, advised him to toss the ball up and bowl a little wider outside the off stump. Yasir did exactly that and the rest, as they say, is history.

History will tell you that Misbah is Pakistan’s most successful Test captain, it will tell you that he is the most successful Asian captain outside Asia, it will tell you that Misbah is the first Pakistani Test captain to win a series in the West Indies.

History will tell you that Younis is Pakistan’s highest run-scorer, it will tell you that he has more centuries than any Pakistani batsman, it will tell you that Younis' conversion rate is only second to Sir Don Bradman’s. History will tell you that sheer determination and grit can make you world beaters and whenever it does so, it will give #MisYou’s example.


Published Date: May 16, 2017 20:10 PM | Updated Date: May 16, 2017 20:10 PM

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