Reviews, Opinions, Analyses, Stats and Numbers

5 years since MisYou

Published on May 15, 2022 in BolNews Print Magazine

Why did he do that?” It has been five years since Fazeer Mohammed uttered those iconic words on-air. The words of agony and bafflement to describe a historic moment in Test Cricket – Pakistan winning a Test Series in the Caribbean, for the first time in history. The words became iconic, for those words described, appropriately, the context, the drama and the inexplicable nature of the last delivery of Pakistan’s Test Series in West Indies in 2017.

Shannon Gabriel was required to see out one more delivery, Yasir Shah’s final delivery in the Test Series, that would have left Roston Chase, the resilient all-rounder, who had negated Pakistan bowling the whole final day, to face the last over and deny Pakistan their first ever Test Series win in the Caribbean. Shannon had batted out 21 deliveries with a trust in his defense, but then, in that one of the most unfathomable moments in Test Cricket’s history, he swung wildly at a loopy wide delivery from Shah and ended up dragging the ball on to his off stump, triggering in Dominica, one of the most memorable scenes of Pakistan’s Test history.

Moments before that delivery, Younis Khan, standing in the first slip, was seen advising Yasir Shah to bowl that delivery, a loopy wrong-un outside the off stump. The tip turned out to be the last act of Younis Khan in international Cricket, a fairy-tale end to a glorious International career. Not just him, Dominica Test bid the most fitting farewell to another remarkable player from the country, the then captain, Misbah ul Haq. On that day, Misbah became the first and the only Pakistan Test captain to defeat West Indies in West Indies, and the day was May 14, 2017.

It has been 5 years since MisYou, the retirement of Pakistan’s two iconic Test batters, Misbah and Younis. The duo had a phenomenal run, specially under Misbah’s captaincy. Phenomenal enough for numerous parallels to be drawn and a lot of questions to be asked, even during that period, whether Pakistan will be able to fill their void whenever the two decides to hang their boots. Unexpected for many, the duo decided to retire at the end of the same Test, that left no room for seamless succession of the two batters and also the captain, Misbah ul Haq, who had captained the side for seven years.

Five years on, it is probably the right time to look back if Pakistan managed to fill the void of Misbah and Younis, the Test batters, and Misbah the Captain. Five years is probably the appropriate sample size for such analysis. And to keep the review even more fitting, to compare the five years after Misbah and Younis (May 2017 – May 2022) with the five years before that point in time (May 2012 – May 2017).


Test Results
Pakistan played 43 Tests between May 2012 and May 2017 as compared to 34 Tests since May 2017. In terms of results, Pakistan’s performance remained pretty much the same. Pakistan won 39.53% (17 Tests) during May 2012 and May 2017 as compared to 38.24% (13 Tests) from May 2017 onwards.

Pakistan Middle Order

During May 2012 to May 2017, 14 players batted for Pakistan in Tests in Middle Order (batting positions 4, 5 and 6) and 15 players from May 2017 onwards.

In comparison, the number of innings have been 27% less since May 2017 onwards. While the Strike Rate remains almost identical and the number of 50s and Runs scored remain proportionately similar, there has been significant variance in batting average and the number of 100s scored in the two periods.

These numbers also include the instances where a night watchman or a pinch hitter was sent ahead of designated number 4, 5 or 6 in the batting order. It also includes the instances where a top order batter came out to bat in the middle order as a result of a night watchman or pinch hitter sent ahead of him.

If such  makeshift instances are excluded, 6 designated batters during May 2012 to May 2017 and 9 batters since May 2017 batted for Pakistan in Tests at batting position 4, 5 or 6.

Among those designated batters the variance in batting average during the two periods still remain significant. Pakistan Middle Order has averaged 6 runs less in 5 years since the retirement of Misbah and Younis as compared to during the 5 years before their retirement.


How much was the contribution of Misbah and Younis in these numbers? To ascertain that, let’s break down the same numbers to the individual batters.



Almost all of the 219 such innings in 43 Tests, during May 2012 and May 2017, featured Younis, Misbah and Asad Shafiq at number 4, 5 and 6 respectively. Babar and Sarfaraz played as designated middle order during the absence of Younis Khan in 2016 Series against West Indies in UAE and Rizwan debuted as specialist batter in New Zealand, in the absence of Misbah ul Haq.

All the three regulars in that period – Younis, Misbah and Asad – averaged more than 40. Younis averaged more than 50 with Misbah not far behind him. These numbers do not include the instances where Sarfaraz promoted up the order (where he scored at quicker rate), still his Strike Rate stands out with all other batters scoring with a strike rate of around 50.



In comparison, Pakistan tried 9 batters in the Middle Order since May 2017. Babar Azam featured the most as he found his permanent slot at number 4 after the retirement of Misbah and Younis. Asad Shafiq was expected to move up the order and fill the void. He did go past the 50 mark in 11 out of 35 innings – that is, roughly once in every three innings – but still, had dismal batting average, largely due to significant failures when he did not go beyond the 50 mark. Haris Sohail had a similar story. He went past 50 mark once in every four innings but his batting average remained abysmal due to failures in between.

The replacement, Fawad Alam, has maintained a decent average and not surprisingly, he has gone past the 50 mark once in every four innings. Pakistan also tried Iftikhar Ahmed and Azhar Ali on a few occasions but neither produced the expected outcome. In between, Usman Salahuddin also featured in one of the Tests and was never considered again.

Another significant change in Pakistan’s Test strategy, after the retirement of Misbah and Younis, was the change in combination. Till the retirement of the duo, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Pakistan’s regular Wicket Keeper during that period, played only 2 Tests as designated number 6 batter, in the absence of Younis Khan and with Mohammad Nawaz in the side as an all-rounder. In Tests since May 2017, however, Sarfaraz Ahmed or Mohammad Rizwan, the two wicket keepers, have featured as designated number 6 batter in 17 out 34 Tests. That 6-batter strategy changed mainly due to the emergence of Shadab Khan and Faheem Ahsraf. It got further bolstered with Rizwan’s exceptional form with the bat since 2020 England tour. Rizwan has been in sublime form since then, maintaining batting average of a specialist batter.

Although the combined batting average of Pakistan Middle Order since May 2017 has been significantly lower compared to that of 5 years before May 2017, Rizwan has averaged (47.46) much better than Asad Shafiq (41.09), Pakistan’s regular number 6 during Misbah and Younis time.

In summary, the variance specially in Batting Averages of Pakistan Middle Order, since the retirement of Misbah and Younis, is considerable. Not surprisingly, Babar’s numbers stand out in all aspects. Maintaining a healthy batting average, a decent Strike Rate and going past 50 mark virtually every other innings. Babar Azam has been the stand out performer for Pakistan since the retirement of Misbah and Younis. Fawad Alam has provided him good support while Mohammad Rizwan has stepped up as a competent number 6 batter. The variance is mainly due to the below par performance of Asad Shafiq and Haris Sohail, the pair that was given the first priority as replacement of Misbah and Younis. The good part for Pakistan is that, that the latest trio has performed much better.

The results, however, have remained pretty much the same. That’s partly due to Pakistan having a much more consistent top order than the one Pakistan used to have between 2012 and 2017.

To conclude, Pakistan had lesser impact than expected of retirement of Misbah ul Haq and Younis Khan. Pakistan Middle Order did struggle initially but has now settled to a decent lineup. The lineup that may not become a replica of Misbah and Younis over time but it is definitely worth biding some time.


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published on 5 April 2022, in THE PLAYFIELD (magazine published from India)

International Cricket is truly back in Pakistan. Pakistan versus Australia Test Series, the first leg of the tour, might have painted a dull picture on the scorecards, but it fully served its purpose. The much bigger purpose, of bringing back an Australian side on Pakistani soil after almost two and a half decades. 


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