We labelled Misbah-ul-Haq a Twenty20 specialist during that format’s World Cup. That was a bit misleading because we don’t particularly believe in being a specialist in one format or another.
The best cricketers play the match situation and the best batsmen weigh up what to do to score runs against whatever bowler they’re facing. It just so happened that at the time Misbah-ul-Haq was only playing Twenty20. Labelling him a specialist was more a way of highlighting the shortcomings of England’s so-called specialists. Basically, Misbah-ul-Haq is an international cricketer; Jeremy Snape is not.
So now he’s playing Tests as well and he already looks to be one of Pakistan’s most reliable batsmen, which is weird because today’s fifty was his first in Tests. We’ve seen enough to know that he’s up to the job of succeeding the previous ul-Haq though.
It’s just as well really, because if Mohammad Yousuf or Younis Khan don’t score runs, it’s hard to see where they’ll come from for Pakistan. Today, neither made any and Pakistan found themselves 142-8. At which point Misbah, rather than strike out madly in a desperate bid for whatever he could get, instead trusted Mohammad Sami to stay in and together they’ve put on 68 and will resume again tomorrow.
Hopefully this will be a low-scoring game. We’re not bothered who wins, but we’d hate to see Misbah’s great efforts being devalued by a subsequent avalanche of runs. In high-scoring Test matches, you sometimes feel like the winner’s just whoever cashes in the most when the going’s good. In a low-scoring game, every run’s earned.
Misbah-ul-Haq and Mohammad Sami earned their runs today.