May 12, 2017

'We were the seniors, we wanted to lead from the front'

Younis Khan
Younis Khan talks about Misbah-ul-Haq, and how they forged Pakistan's most iconic partnership in recent times

"We were successful together because of the way we are as people. The experiences that shaped us were similar" © AFP

Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. In the company of some of the most celebrated Pakistani pairings - Imran and Javed, Wasim and Waqar, Hanif and Fazal ­ they don't shine any less bright. They are now playing in their last Test, together, having done more than any others in the last six years to ensure that Pakistan competed. Here, they tell us what they thought of the other and what made them tick. Here's Younis on Misbah.

Misbah and I go a long way back, to before the time he became captain. In the 2006 Champions Trophy, when Inzamam-ul-Haq was banned and I went as captain, I had wanted Misbah in the team. I knew his background, I knew he was doing well domestically and I was a big believer in him.

Then in 2007, he made that really strong comeback at the World T20. It was a really difficult decision for the selection committee to drop Mohammad Yousuf and bring Misbah in. That must have put a lot of pressure on him, but the way he came in and played, on unfamiliar South African pitches - and won matches for us - was amazing.

He told me at the time that he had worked really hard, not just for a few months but over the previous three years to get back into the Pakistan side. He had been going to the National Cricket Academy every day, he said. It was his bad luck that we had such a strong middle order at the time; that's why he didn't get many opportunities. But, as they say, whatever happens does so for the better.

So I wasn't surprised when he came back as captain against South Africa in 2010. It wasn't easy, that series. When we were playing that last day in Dubai, I remember talking to Misbah in the dressing room and on the pitch. We knew that this was a very new, inexperienced side and if one of us got out, then South Africa could win the Test. Even when the last hour started, they wanted to play on a little, so it was pretty tense. That partnership to save the Test set the tone for us, allowing us to put together many century partnerships.

The partnership in Dubai against South Africa in 2010 set the tone for Younis and Misbah © AFP

We were successful together because of the way we are as people. My batting style is quite different to his but we complemented each other well. The experiences that have shaped us are similar -­ his background, his career playing first-class cricket, the fact that we both struggled early on, and that was always with us when we batted: the fact that we had come through it. The other thing that was in our minds is that we wanted to serve the team. We were the seniors and we wanted to lead from the front.

I learnt from Misbah that if I wanted to get a performance out of someone, I had to let them do it - to give them independence and not interfere, especially the younger players. Misbah did that. If a player was making mistakes, he would go up and chat a little, but mostly he would let them do what they need to do.

We have a healthy respect for each other. The way Misbah respects Younis Khan, I want to respect him and his family even more. If you watch my Sydney Test hundred then you can see his son cheering. The way he got happy, how he celebrated for my hundred; that is that respect and I've tried to return that respect to him and his family.

I'm not surprised he did so well as captain. He is a very strong character. At his age, to be able to maintain fitness, and to be able to keep performing, you can see his commitment. We could not say often that he was out of form. Whatever else happened, he kept performing with the bat, leading by example, right from the front. That is the most important thing for a leader. His attitude has been very important. He is very calm.

Sometimes people say aggression is everything, but I think the calmness Misbah has shown, towards the Pakistan Cricket Board, his game and the team, has been vital to his success. We are humans, of course, and a leader is under a lot of pressure. On the ground or in the dressing room, off and on, he does get angry, but the calmness is there for everyone to see.

Out on the field, I have never tried to impose myself on him. I am a strong believer that the leader, whoever he is, should take decisions by himself. That is why he is the leader. Misbah is not a young leader. He has led departments, associations and Pakistan A. If he called on me on the field, I always gave him my honest opinion and advice. That element of trust has been very important.

Off the field, we've been fishing together a few times. We did it in New Zealand last year. He really enjoyed it as well. In 2008-09, we had a home series and held a camp - we did a lot of fishing then as well.

Read Misbah on Younis here

As told to ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   badboycricfan on May 13, 2017, 15:47 GMT

    These 2 are individuals of strong character and dignity they respect each other and have transferred that in to youngsters... no doubt then that one is the most successful captain in tests for Pakistan and a very consistent and high class batsman of his time while the other is the most successful test batsman for Pakistan and one of the very best of his time and only second Pakistani captain to win a global cricketing event although now there are 3 of them with Misbah also having had his hands on the ICC test championship mess... we will MisYou both a lot... Respect for the legends for being the real reasons behind one of the very successful test teams of recent times...

  •   badboycricfan on May 13, 2017, 15:39 GMT

    These 2 are individuals of strong character and dignity they respect each other and have transferred that in to youngsters... no doubt then that one is the most successful captain in tests for Pakistan and a very consistent and high class batsman of his time while the other is the most successful test batsman for Pakistan and one of the very best of his time and only second Pakistani captain to win a global cricketing event although now there are 3 of them with Misbah also having had his hands on the ICC test championship mess... we will MisYou both a lot... Respect for the legends for being the real reasons behind one of the very successful test teams of recent times...

  • ravije4653139 on May 13, 2017, 5:03 GMT

    In any aspect of Life the individual character of a person not only plays a fruitful role in his life it also helps others to Rally around that person - It could be in Office At the battle Front or in Sports like Cricket . Both were Gentle , Disciplined , Hard working. Inspiring , Kind to one & all , The fact that though Younis Khan was the senior & was never a long term captain, hardly mattered to him & he gave all that he had by way of his game & support to Misbah & Misbah in turn never ever thought he was the captain ,but basically a Mentor & Good friend to his team mates . The Result has been there , Probably if Ajmal had not been Banned Or Amir had Asif support , Pakistan could have achieved greater success under Misbah Captaincy - People have compared with Imaran - Javed , Hanif - Fazal & Wasim - Waqar . To Me the Misbah - Younis Khan association has given me the greatest joy of their batting & the atmosphere in every game they played brought Cricket to Glory & Shining

  •   Cricinfouser on May 12, 2017, 21:49 GMT

    I really want cricinfo to do a feature on the greatest misbah and younis fan art/photoshop. The top one should be the one where misbah and younis are carrying light sabers

  •   cricfan5656945139 on May 12, 2017, 16:37 GMT

    Younis is simply the greatest batsman Pakistan has ever produced.

  • Saifullah Farooqui on May 12, 2017, 6:44 GMT

    Misbah is looking so handsome in clean shave.

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