Sports has no age barrier and that's what Pakistani senior batsmen Misbah-ul Haq and Younis Khan, showed that they have a lot in them to offer in a performance based cricketing world. The duo's mettle were seen once again, after their heroic performances helping their team pummel Australia 2-0 in the recently concluded Test series victory in the UAE. The two emphatic ambassadors of the game brought forward strong reasons on why they deserve to be on the plane to Australia and New Zealand in February, where the ICC 2015 World Cup takes place.
Younis Khan who has been one of the generation's best batsman, had contemplated on retiring from ODI cricket after the Pakistan Cricket Board had dropped him from the ODI series last month. Critics and several former players felt the experienced campaigner didn't have anything more to offer to the game and rather pitched in for a younger team for the upcoming World Cup. Younis's selection in the Test team against Australia wasn't also clear, before he finally got the nod.
Younis who was hurt after being dropped out of the ODI squad, had recently stated that he had contemplated in retiring from limited overs cricket. Often in this game age is put into consideration and at 36, for Younis the road carved out by higher officials looked bleak. The veteran took his chance in the Test series and proved why the age factor is a bizarre subject in sports. It's not the runs, records, or the man-of-the-series award for Younis that stood out, but it was a fine answer of how much the man has it in himself to offer in the best interests of the game.
On his way Younis has not only managed to win hearts and get back at his critics, but he gave himself another oppurtunity to keep going strongly. The record-breaking series has given him a lot of confidence and support, which was a necessity after all the negativity surrounding him. With scores 106, 103*, 213 and 46, Younis's hunger to succeed was visible throughout the series. Younis deserved to make his name amongst the record books after breaking many of them for his side. With 27 centuries and over 8000 runs in Test cricket, Younis's performances has been the highlight of this autumn season. The 36-year old has over 7000 runs in ODI format and given the form he is in, what a farewell it will be for him from the shorter version of the game in the game's most prestigious event.
Younis' senior and Pakistani skipper Misbah-ul Haq, too didn't stand back and like the former he too put in a serious case of his offerings in the game. The 40-year old is the oldest international cricketer in the present scenario to have been playing the game, and with his record-breaking innings he voiced the same opinion as Younis, that age is just a number.
Misbah's journey has been a difficult one with too much criticism from all corners inflicted upon him. The Pakistani skipper's captaincy, age and tactics wasn't appreciated and although given the nod by PCB to lead the side, there was always little sense of appreciation for his efforts. But Misbah showed why he is till the right man to lead the side, after handling an inexperienced Pakistan to a comprehensive series victory. Misbah's record-equalling fastest century in Test cricket was a sarcasm best served to those who doubted his abilities in leading the team. Misbah's aggression and positivity blended with class, showed he too deserves a place in the team as their leader.
He not only was amongst the runs scoring 69, 101 and 101*, but he also handed Pakistan a dominating series victory over the Aussies which will be remembered for ages. With 14 Test wins Misbah added another feather to his cap and after a humiliating 0-3 ODI series loss, he turned the tables when it was needed most. With an inexperienced bowling line-up, Misbah led from the front and handed Pakistan one of their best Test series victory in the history of the game.
What was sad to see was the treatment both received even after putting in their best efforts throughout their career. But once again the duo have stamped their authority to showcase their heroics in the mix of things.
Pakistan play New Zealand in UAE for a three-match Test series starting from 9th November. That will be followed by a a 5-match ODI series and two T20s. The Test series gives both Younis and Misbah another chance to carry forward their form and help Pakistan put in another commanding performance. It will be interesting to see whether Younis gets back to the ODI scheme of things and what the selectors have in their mind. But Younis has done enough.
With the World Cup months away, Pakistan will hope to ride on Misbah's leadership and hope he carries his team once again in having a successful outing. Both these legends will embark upon this dream performance and try marching forward, bringing more laurels to the team and themselves. A grandeur level of cricket is what they have brought to the game and well may be more is awaited!