Pakistan may go the Sri Lanka way

Younis-Khan-R-and-Misbah-ul-Haq-run-between-the-wickets-during-the-third-day-of-the-second-Test-match-between-Pakistan-and-Sri-LankaMisbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan are undoubtedly two of Pakistan’s best batsmen in the current squad. Aged 42 and 38 respectively, they still hold the key in the middle-order, and have been successful over the years. One cannot deny that they are soon approaching the end of their careers and may call it a day at the end of the England tour. Misbah took over as captain after the infamous spot-fixing incident at Lord’s in 2010, following which three of Pakistan’s bright prospects were sent behind bars and banned for terms of between 5 and 10 years. If Misbah and Younis were to retire, Pakistan team’s transition into the next era will be quite similar to what it is for Sri Lanka, after the retirements of heavyweights Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

Thankfully for Sri Lanka, the duo did not retire at the same time. Jayawardene retired from all forms after Sri Lanka’s exit in the quarter-final stage in the ICC World Cup 2015 – a tournament where Sangakkara hit four centuries. On the other hand, Sangakkara played for a few more months before retiring after the second Test against India in August 2015.

Clearly, Sri Lanka have struggled after the retirement of these two iconic figures. They did beat a relatively weak West Indies side at home, but when pitted against the big guns in testing conditions such as England, they miserably failed. They certainly lacked the vast experience of Jayawardene and Sangakkara.

Along with being a good player, Misbah has also led Pakistan well. His calm, composed and collective approach has made Pakistan a force to be reckoned with in Tests. He has lost just one series as captain and won a series in tricky conditions such as New Zealand. Other teams from the subcontinent such as India and Sri Lanka have always struggled in those conditions.

Moreover, as captain, Misbah’s batting average shoots up to 57, compared to his career average of close to 49. Moreover, his average in matches Pakistan that came up triumphant is 65. In addition, his nine Test centuries have come in winning cause as well.

Younis, like Misbah too, has churned out runs under difficult circumstances, but has done so for a longer period of time. What strikes about Younis is his consistency. In his 100-odd Tests, it is hard to look at a time when Younis has not delivered. He has the appetite to score big once he gets his eyes in. Like Misbah, Younis too has played an integral part when it comes to helping his side win or save the Test. He averages 68 in matches where Pakistan have not lost, with 25 centuries and 20 fifties coming along the way.

If these two big guns were to retire after the England series, Pakistan will have a huge gap to fill in the middle-order. They will not only lose two world-class players, but will also have to look for a new captain to lead them into the next era. Misbah has already delayed his retirement once at the insistence of Shahryar Khan, but may not be obliged to do so again.

Sri Lanka, under Angelo Mathews, have not been able to churn out results, like they would have wanted to. However, with a little more time, they too may regain their lost touch and learn to move on without Jayawardene and Sangakkara, just like Pakistan in the near future may have to do without Misbah and Younis. The rebuilding may take some time, the results may not go your way, but like Sri Lanka, Pakistan too will have to be determined. (Courtesy Cricket