A Fairy Tale End to Younis Khan & Misbah-ul-Haq’s Careers

Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan PCB
Courtesy: www.cricinfo.com ©AFP

The Year was 1993 and I was around ten years of age. Had it not been for rain in the third and last Test match, Wasim Akram led Pakistani team would have returned home from the West Indies with a series result reading 3-0-a white wash. My elder cousin told me of how under Imran Khan the boys in green fought during the previous tour to the Caribbean Islands and how the local umpires deprived Pakistan of a series victory.

Nearly 7 years later I had a similar story to tell to some of my friends when biased umpiring led to West Indies beating the national side by a wicket in the last test match. The victory allowed Windies to clinch the three match series 1-0.

Despite neutral umpires and even though Pakistan were the favorites, the next two rubbers that followed were drawn affairs.  Therefore, the recently concluded three match Test rubber between the two unpredictable teams meant a lot to me as a cricket fan.

As expected Pakistan ended up beating the Windies by a comfortable margin in the first Test match and I thought the day I had been waiting for since the last 24 years would finally come during the next game.

For the first four days of the second Test match I remained as complacent as the Pakistani side and taking things for granted did not even bother to watch the fourth day of the game. However, on the final day I panicked as soon as I realized that Pakistan was to chase 188 runs. My wife said that they were going to get the target with ease. I looked at her and said, “This should be interesting but I am afraid the target is at least 30 to 35 runs more than what it should have been on a wicket that is turning square. The spinners might cause a few problems.”

I was wrong as Pakistan could not even manage the opposition’s fast bowlers and could not even pile up  a total of 100 runs!

The forecast for the final game suggested that four out of the five days will be effected because of rain. Still, since I have seen these forecasts go wrong all my life I refused to admit that I will have to wait longer for a Pakistan Test series victory in the Caribbean Islands.

The way both sides batted with a cautious approach for the first three days it seemed as if it was going to be a draw after all. Then on the fourth day the unpredictability of both batting sides allowed for 14 wickets to fall. Pakistan were only 9 wickets away from a historic series victory on a track that was providing help to Yasir Shah.

The final day of the match was also suppose to be the last time Misbah and Younis were going to be in action. Obviously, it was not business as usual for both gentlemen still, they seemed relax and the first two sessions certainly put Pakistan in a position where they seemed an hour away from finally, breaking the jinx.

However, Pakistan dropped Roston Chase twice, dismissed him of a no ball and then saw him scoring yet another century. The tail too showed a lot of resilience and Pakistan were made to sweat for what only a few hours back seemed to be a straight forward boring victory.

With Gabriel-the number eleven facing Yasir Shah and only 12 balls to go Pakistan still, needed another wicket to re-write history. The plan from the Windies was simple. Chase had asked his partner to see off the six balls from the spinner and he himself had decided to negotiate the last over which was most likely to be bowled by a fast bowler.

“They need to get him out. With Chase facing the next over, there is little hope. This is the over,” I said to my wife who politely asked me to calm down!

I was anxious wondering if I will have to wait more and also because I wanted Misbah and Younis to leave with a victory rather than a draw that would have meant nothing but defeat.

The first three balls were negotiated without any damage done. The fourth ball saw Yasir appealing successfully for a bat-pad and just as I thought it was over my wife once again asked me to calm down and pointed out that Gabriel had asked for a review. Since, more drama was to follow the on field decision was over turned.

Next, from no where much to the delight of the spectators it began to rain. Sarfaraz began shouting and asking the green shirts to get on with the job and get things done fast.

With another delivery negotiated with ease the hope of a victory was all but gone. I felt for Misbah and Younis, both of whom seemed dejected and tense. Hoping for an outside chance Misbah asked all his men to gather around Gabriel for the last delivery of the over. The tail-ender having played so well ended up giving away his wicket to a rash shot.

Misbah was euphoric, so was Younis and the entire Pakistani dressing room. Pakistan had finally, won a Test series in the Caribbean Islands. It was a day I had been waiting for the last 24 years but never did I know that the occasion had been reserved by the Almighty for a fairy tale end to the glorious careers of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.