Following his unbeaten knocks of 99 and 12 that played a key role in helping Pakistan script a win in the first Test against West Indies at Kingston, Jamaica, Misbah-ul-Haq jumped six positions to move to 20th spot in the ICC Test rankings for batsmen.
The 42-year-old Pakistan skipper is playing his last Test series and his tenure at helm will be remembered for ensuring the team rose from the dumps, caused by a serious match-fixing scandal, to the world No. 1 position in team rankings last year.
He looks relaxed and the way he finished off the first Test, slamming two sixes to reach the target, proves he is out to have some fun before he signs off.
“If you’re not enjoying yourself, then there’s no point of playing. I’m not the kind of person who would linger on if I wasn’t having fun,” he said. “These wins are special, and this is one more Test match that the team has given to me as a gift.”
After a poor show in the previous series, in Australia, Pakistani bowlers stepped up to the plate and bowled their side to an improbable victory in a match affected by rain. With just a 121-run lead in the first innings of a match that saw almost an entire day lost to rain --- only 11.3 overs were possible on Day 2, the bowlers had to ensure West Indies get skittled out for low score.
Yasir Shah responded in style, picking six and he was supported by pacers as they knocked out West Indies for 152 in the second innings, leaving Pakistan with a target of just 32 which they did following some hiccups.
In the first innings, Mohammed Amir was the hero picking six wickets.
“With tricky weather, the idea was to win the toss and bowl first,” Misbah said. “We just had one chance to get them out quickly and then play one good innings. Otherwise it wasn’t going to be possible.
“We knew that it was going to be tough batting on the fifth day. I think the bowlers did very well. In the first innings (Mohammad) Amir, especially, his spell was crucial. In the second innings, again Amir and especially Yasir’s spell was incredible. Getting six wickets this morning in no time was the game changer.”
There has been talk of blooding in two spinners considering the weakness of West Indies batsmen against tweakers. But Misbah ruled out such a possibility.
“Our combination will depend on the conditions we get, and especially how the pitch looks before the Test match,” he said. “This pitch had a lot of moisture and that is why we opted to bowl first and go with three seamers. With our combination, it’s difficult, it’s difficult to sneak in the fifth bowler, especially since we have six specialist batsmen, so having three fast bowlers and two spinners becomes tricky.”
Meanwhile, in ICC rankings, Younis Khan, a former top-ranked batsman, maintained his eighth position with innings of 58 and six.
For the West Indies, captain Jason Holder’s innings of 57 not out and 14 have helped him gain five slots to reach a career-best 60th position.
In rankings for Test bowlers, leg-spinner Yasir Shah’s player of the match effort of two for 91 and six for 63 lifted him one slot to 15th position.