Cricket: Misbah-Ul-Haq Shines Again As Pakistan Finally Win a Series

Richard O'HaganCorrespondent IIJanuary 19, 2011

Misbah-ul-Haq celebrates Pakistan winning something at last
Misbah-ul-Haq celebrates Pakistan winning something at lastMarty Melville/Getty Images

In the end, the final day of this series was something of a damp squib. Pakistan finally won a Test series after eleven attempts, but they did so without ever really trying to win this particular game.

Set 274 to win, Pakistan never really attempted to secure a victory; ensuring that the game was a draw was their prime objective. With hindsight, the worst thing that New Zealand could have done was dismiss Taufeeq Umar first ball. Once Tim Southee had removed him, Pakistan were never going to attempt to chase down the target.

Admittedly, they had something of a scare along the way. Taufeeq went first ball, Azhar Ali made only ten and when Mohammed Hafeez edged to slip for 32 Pakistan were 42 for 3 and looking like they might not last the day.

They found safety through their usual source, the combination of Younis Khan and captain Misbah-ul-Haq. Together they put on 118 runs for the fourth wicket and, in doing so, put the game beyond New Zealand's reach. Younis scored 81 of those runs and was so in command that it was a major surprise when he played loosely at the last ball before tea and edged it to wicketkeeper Reece Young.

Things could have been tricky after tea, but it was at this point that Misbah took command as he and Asad Shafiq patiently built a partnership of 55 in a time-consuming 28 overs. There was a brief wobble when Daniel Vettori trapped Shafiq LBW with almost ten overs to go, but Misbah and Adnan Akmal played those out with alacrity.

Pakistan were demonstrably the better side during this series and will feel that they have taken a real step forward with this series win. For New Zealand, defeat can only come as a disappointment after the high hopes engendered by their performance against India in November. They need to find far greater consistency in their batting if they are to move forward from here.