Last week Ian Bell was dismissed for 99 and we wondered whether that was more or less painful than Misbah-ul-Haq being left stranded on 99 not out against the West Indies.
Well, it seems Misbah was wondering the same thing. One Test later, he executed a textbook fatal bat withdrawal and edged to the keeper on the same score.
Misbah has always been King of the Fifty and it would seem that he is hell-bent on maximising his average before retirement without recourse to three figures. This was the third time he has made 99 in a Test match. He also has a 96 and a 97 to his name. It would perhaps be more accurate to brand him King of the Daddy Fifty.
Anyone who has watched him bat won’t be entirely surprised by this tendency. A man who at times boasts an almost tangible air of lack-of-intent, Misbah is not averse to completely renouncing progress during the latter stages of his innings.
He doesn’t so much become becalmed as struck down by a nasty case of rigor mortis. This tendency can transform the short trip from 90 to 100 into an incredibly protracted quest, such that being dismissed in the nineties becomes a statistical probability due to the sheer number of balls he faces.
You could argue that Misbah’s best hope for reaching three figures has been to do so before even he himself has noticed that it’s a possibility – but had this been a regular ploy, it would have greatly devalued one of the all-time great inexplicable innings.
Misbah-ul-Haq will retire from Test cricket after this series and anyone worth knowing will miss him enormously.