It was Yasir Shah’s last ball of the over that finally rattled through Gabriel’s defense as the Pakistani camp erupted in joy. With six balls to spare, and an unbeaten Roston Chase, Pakistan had finally sealed victory. It took the Green shirts good fifty eight long years to bag a test series on the Caribbean soil. But the moment was much more than just an away test victory, or a special one in fifty eight years in yesterday’s case. Wearing the green and white, it was for the last time when the duo of Younis and Misbah walked off the field taking away with them almost a decade of patriotism and professionalism.
I remember being glued to my screen when Inzimam walked off the field for one last time, or when he did his century in Multan, defying Bangladesh what could have been their first away test victory. I also remember watching Mohamamd Yousuf becoming the top scorer in a calendar year. Watching all curiously, I also witnessed live, Pakistan successfully chasing 382 in fourth innings of Gabba test. I was even right next to my TV screen at least twice when Younis did his triple figures and also for his 10,000 runs hallmark. Cannot even forget the time when Pakistan won the T20 cup, or when the boys in green defeated Australia and England in a test series. No, I am not one of those crazy fans who watches every single match Pakistan plays. Yet, name any of the remarkable occasion from the last decade and I have watched them all, but what I had not witnessed till yesterday was the honoring and celebratory sent off we gave to Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.
Yes Inzimam’s sent off does qualify as one of a thing but, was it celebrated in the similar fashion? Of course not. Misbah is termed as most successful test captain of Pakistan, taking the side to the number one position. Younis, on the other hand is now Pakistan’s best test batsman of all time being the only one in the 10,000 club. Playing in exile since the Sri-Lankan team attack in Lahore in 2009, both Younis and Misbah have the common of rising from adversaries and pull downs. For Misbah, his inaugural T20 cup became a disaster as a poor shot selection by him caused Pakistan the final, and that too against arch rivals India. Misbah was then the villain, one whose cricketing skills were debated more critically than the Kashmir issue. Offered captaincy post the spot fixing scandal in 2010, Misbah was mocked for his slow playing tactics and defensive approach. Younis had his journey little no different. Being the T20 world cup winning skipper, Younis was offered almost nothing in the first PSL season. Playing in the shadows of cricketing greats Yousuf and Inzimam, Younis had to prove a lot, only then to become Pakistan’s test side’s back bone.
Of all the opposition and adversaries both of them faced nothing deterred them from service. Misbah kept his calm and went on doing what knew best – winning test series. While Younis, not complaining, kept on scoring again and again. Yesterday, when the legends were carried on shoulders there was a lot coming to an end and with a lot of questions. It was a decade of professionalism, commitment, integrity, decency and mentoring that was finally bidding adieu. The social media is already flooded with farewell messages, with #MisYou and Thank You Younis and Misbah trending right on the top.
But this departure has much more somberness then just two cricketing greats exit. There are questions for both, the Pakistani society and the Pakistan Cricket Board. We are an emotional nation which finds pride in mocking and ridiculing our own countrymen irrespective of their achievement no matter how small or big. Misbah was long criticized for his defensive style of play while Younis, for his rigid approach. The fact, the defensive style took Pakistan to number one while the rigid allowed Younis to carry on with high integrity. Imagine what it takes not playing in home grounds. An athlete motivation comes from support.
These two and the current playing eleven seek the same from the crowds in Dubai and Sharjah. No matter how big the numbers are there is no replacement for a jam pack Qadafi Stadium Lahore or a soaring National Stadium Karachi. And while the top teams these days favor playing in their own home conditions, Pakistan is always tasked testing alien environments. Was it at all fair in demanding or is fair in demanding these guys match the excellence to anything better? Perhaps not. As for PCB, the governing body of cricket in Pakistan, no doubt a lot has changed. The sight of two heroes departing with respect is already a step towards something new and worth commending. A lot is there still to work upon. The failure of institutions reflects in the fact that we are yet to find replacement for both of them. While Asad Shafiq is something worth a discovery, he is already part of the playing eleven and technically does not qualify as a replacement.
Likewise, PCB should look forward in availing the services of both of these gentlemen for the betterment of the game. After a long time we have veterans who are not a product of handful of matches, rather, are filled with years of experience that involves testing every playing environment and every playing opposition. Let’s hope that this MisYou story does not simply end here, but evolves in something larger. There is a lot of cricket experience present in both Misbah and Younis and Pakistan can for sure extract it for generations to come.