Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 June 2019

PSL 2019: Misbah-ul-Haq rolls back the years to lead Peshawar Zalmi to victory over Lahore Qalandars

The 44-year-old batsman scored an unbeaten half-century to guide his side to a four-wicket win in Abu Dhabi

Peshawar Zalmi defeated Lahore Qalandars by four-wickets in the Pakistan Super League on Tuesday. Courtesy PCB
Peshawar Zalmi defeated Lahore Qalandars by four-wickets in the Pakistan Super League on Tuesday. Courtesy PCB

Misbah-ul-Haq had already carved his place in history at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi a long time ago.

But, in all likelihood, this might well have been the last time he played formal cricket in the UAE capital. So why not leave a sweet forget-me-not?

Misbah will be 45 on his next birthday. When Peshawar Zalmi recruited him ahead of the 2019 Pakistan Super League, it was surely with the intention of borrowing from his wealth of knowledge and experience, rather than a view to relying overly on his ageing limbs in the middle.

He was given his second appearance for his new team with their place already all-but secured in the playoffs, against Lahore Qalandars on Tuesday night, the day before the teams fly home to Pakistan for the business stage of the competition.

When his side limited Lahore to 124-7 from their 20 overs, it seemed likely he would not be needed at all.

How wrong that proved to be. With their top-order decimated by 18-year-old Shaheen Afridi, who reduced them to 20-5, Peshawar were in need of a hero.

Misbah was only happy to oblige. The former Pakistan captain was not out at the end on 59 when victory was sealed, having shared in a 100-run partnership with Daren Sammy, his franchise captain.

To put the vast difference in experience into context, if the ages of Afridi and Sandeep Lamichhane, the two bright young stars of the Qalandars bowling attack, were added together, they would still be eight years younger than Misbah.

And yet Misbah was still fit enough to scurry through for a three to tie the scores with three balls left off the final over.

It figures that he knew his way around the place. It was here, after all, that he scored what was then the equal fastest Test century in the history of the game, five years ago.

Sure, Misbah might just carry on playing forever, but it is unclear whether the PSL itself will return to these parts any time soon. If the powers that be – both in government, as well as the country’s cricket administration – have their way, all PSL matches will be played in Pakistan from now on.

So if this was the last we see of him here, it was quite a way to sign off.

“It is all about your passion and love for the game, and how long you have that hunger and how long you want that challenge,” said Misbah, who has 108 runs in two appearances so far this PSL, and has yet to be dismissed.

“The competition, what is going on in the middle, is what keeps you hungry. Still, my passion for the game is there. I want to play, I want to enjoy, I want to perform.

“Obviously, I know there is a price for that. If you want to do that in the middle, you have to work hard. That is what I was doing in the previous three or four months, playing first-class cricket, and training, getting ready for this.”

The four-wicket defeat, confirmed with one ball left of an eventful final over that included overthrows, a dropped catch, and a change of bowler after injury befell Ryan ten Doeschate, means Lahore’s chances of qualifying for the playoffs are hanging by a thread.

They have matches left against Islamabad United and Multan Sultans, who were the first team to exit the tournament, and are two points off the playoff places.

Peshawar, by contrast, have more positive maths to consider. The win over Lahore confirmed the 2017 champions in the next phase of the competition, and now they are eyeing the No 1 spot in the points table.

“To qualify for the playoffs was the first objective,” Sammy said. “We’ve got one game left, hopefully we can seal that top two spot. We’re united, we win together, we lose together.”

Updated: March 6, 2019 07:53 AM

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