Ever since the ICC introduced its official rankings in 2003, Pakistan were hankering to be number one test side in the world – and after their impressive performance for a period of 2 years away from home, they are now rewarded with number one ranking in test cricket.
Back in 1982, Pakistan team had infightings between its young and the senior players that formed a rebel and boycotted playing under the experienced Javed Miandad, the board surprised many by choosing the brave Imran Khan as the new test skipper and it was Imran’s flair that knit the same team together which came up with fighting performances at home and away and emerged as one of the best test sides by 1988.
Ever since the legendary Imran Khan retired from test cricket, Pakistan struggled to find a sensible leader who led by example and someone who remained uncontroversial throughout.
It is a known fact that, Pakistan always had the world class bowling attack to rattle the best of batting line ups in every era but what they lacked was reliable batsmen at the top who could perform consistently overseas. Ever since the retirement of the great left handed batsman Saeed Anwar, Pakistan never had a reliable opener in the longer run. However, the experience of Inzamam-ul-Had, Younis Khan and Mohammed Yousuf stabilized the early jolts but was not enough to yield results in Pakistan’s favor to make them a top ranked test side. What Pakistan team lacked was a great leader who could instill the lost belief in longest version and set an example with consistent strong performances.
Ever since, Misbah-ul-Haq took over as Pakistan’s skipper amidst the controversies in 2010, he worked tremendously well with youngsters and blended with the seniors to achieve what has been a dream long dreamt.
With 22 wins, Misbah is by far the most successful test captain for Pakistan and unlike other captains; Misbah did not get any opportunity to relish the home.
conditions. Pakistan has been playing away from home at neutral venues since 2009.
Under Misbah, Pakistan has never lost a series in UAE. They have so far played 8 test series of which they won four (4) and drew four (4). In their last series in UAE, Pakistan defeated the number one ranked England 2-0 and later won over Australia very convincingly.
Misbah-ul-Haq captained Pakistan in 19 series and it’s under his reign, Pakistan has won 9, lost 2 and drawn 8 of them.
Since August 2014, Pakistan has not lost any series playing in UAE or away and their best performances came when they drew level against England in England recently and defeated Sri Lanka (2-1) in Sri Lanka last year. The only disappointment was a drawn series against the New Zealand in UAE in 2014 after a comprehensive series win against Australia.
After Australia, India, South Africa and England – Pakistan are now the only fifth team to be ranked number one in test cricket.
The sublime form of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan since 2014 helped Pakistan put up strong performances against the best of bowling attacks. In the recently concluded series against England in England, Pakistan won the 1st test at Lords where Misbah became the oldest captain at the age of 42 to score a test hundred. The skipper’s celebration after scoring a hundred will be long remembered.
The much anticipated return of Mohammed Amir to international cricket for the first time since 2010 didn’t live upto the hype but was enough to grab the attention of cricket fans.
The another reason behind Pakistan’s success in test cricket is the leg spinner Yasir Shah, who picked up wickets regularly and claimed ICC’s number one test ranking for a while against England.
After a promising start to the 4 match test series at Lord’s, Pakistan lost the second and the third test by big margins. In the final test, it was once again
Younis Khan who came to the team’s rescue scoring a magnificent double hundred. Pakistan won the final test and drawn series 2 all.
With India ranked at number 2 and bigger home season ahead, it will be interesting to see how long Pakistan could hold on to the number one test rankings.