There were calls to sack him not so long back but under-fire Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has found admirers in a matter of just one Test win with former players such as Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis lauding him for guiding the team to victory over world number one South Africa in Abu Dhabi.
Misbah, whose captaincy was described as "stale" by former captain and commentator Rameez Raja last month after Pakistan were upset by Zimbabwe in Harare, has now been termed essential for the national team which beat South Africa in the first Test. Rameez had demanded a new captain after Pakistan lost to Zimbabwe while other former players, critics and fans also dubbed Misbah's leadership as defensive and his batting as slow.
But after Misbah scored a hundred and led the side to a clinical win over South Africa, the general consensus was that he is an essential part of the team. "I have said it many times that not only as captain but even as just a player you need Misbah in the team. Take away his calm influence in the middle order and what do we have," Wasim told Geo News channel.
The former fast bowling great said Misbah's biggest asset was that even at 39 he was hungry for runs and leading by example. "Pakistan deserve lot of credit for the way they came back after losing to Zimbabwe. I thought the win in Abu Dhabi was very clinical because the plans were executed well. For a change it was good to see the batsmen including the openers trying to occupy the crease," he said.
But Wasim cautioned that South Africa had the capacity to bounce back in the second Test and Pakistan should stick to their winning combination. Waqar, who remained coach of the national team until September, 2011 before leaving for personal and health reasons, termed Misbah a calming and stable influence on the team.
"I think people don't give Misbah the credit he deserves. He took over the captaincy in 2010 at a very difficult time for Pakistan cricket and I have seen him have a very calming and stable effect on the team. He has led the side and handled things very sensibly and his batting has been a big boost. He is as fit as a 20 year old," Waqar said.
Former wicketkeeper-batsman Rashid Latif said he would prefer to give the title of 'Captain cool' to Misbah. "I feel for Misbah. Because he has been one of the most vilified and criticised player and captain of Pakistan cricket for no fault of his. But in all this he has remained calm and kept his focus. To produce such consistent batting under constant pressure shows he is a man of strong nerves and has had a calming influence on the team," Latif said.
Former batsman and coach Mohsin Khan said he had worked with Misbah and knew the critics were unjust in their previous analysis. "He is a very composed and calm person and he has his way of leading the team and we need to respect that. The main thing is he has scored runs and he has produced results. I don't blame him for his batting because most of the time he is coming into bat under pressure," Mohsin said.