KARACHI: Misbah-ul-Haq defied critics and his advancing age to take Pakistan from the depths of a major spot-fixing scandal to the world´s number one Test team, becoming their most successful captain along the way.
The 42-year-old cricketer, who will retire at the end of the West Indies Test series starting Friday, completed Pakistan´s climb to the top of the rankings with a hard-fought draw in England in 2016.
Criticised for his cautious batting in the semi-final loss to India in the 2011 World Cup, and forced to retire early from the Twenty20 format, would have made anyone retreat into early retirement.
However, that wasn’t the case for Misbah, who started out in street cricket, weathered early trials and disappointments and survived to become the oldest current Test player.
He was born in the city of Mianwali in the central province of Punjab. His father advised him to put aside thoughts of being a sportsman and pursue his studies.
His father´s untimely death briefly changed young Misbah´s priorities, and he reluctantly agreed to a job at a textiles company but never showed up for work.
"It was a tough decision," Misbah recalled. "I had to fight with circumstances and finally made my mark on cricket grounds."
To overcome the lack of opportunities in his hometown, he regularly commuted by train to bigger cities where he laid the foundations of his career, first in street tournaments featuring tennis balls bound in electric tape, and later at domestic level.
His international career started with the tour of New Zealand in 2001, but unfortunately, he failed to make an impression.
Misbah took Pakistan to No. 1 spot in ICC Test rankings for the first time in the country’s history.
However, he forced himself back into contention with strong domestic performances and was a surprise pick for the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007, where at the age of 33 he was Pakistan´s man of the tournament as he took them tantalisingly close to victory over arch-rivals India with a knock of 43 in the final.