David Leggat: Pakistan's rehabilitation remarkable

By David Leggat

Pakistan cricket fans didn't have much to cheer about just six years ago. Photo / Paul Taylor
Pakistan cricket fans didn't have much to cheer about just six years ago. Photo / Paul Taylor

Remember when Pakistan were a rabble, under fire for spot fixing infringements and facing the scorn of the cricket world?

It was only six years ago. Just look at them now, (almost) top of the world and forming a reputation as one of test cricket's best, most resourceful teams.

Pakistan made it to No 1 earlier this year, having drawn 2-2 with England in England, only to slip one spot when India overtook them in the course of dumping New Zealand 3-0.

They have rehabilitated one of the three spot fixing offenders, leftarm seamer Mohammad Amir; continue to get runs out of the outstanding veterans Younis Khan (aged 38) and captain Misbah-ul-Haq (42); have a brilliant match winner in legspinner Yasir Shah (only one player ever has got to 100 test wickets faster than his 17 tests); quality seamers and gifted younger batsmen coming through.

Out of the embers of disgrace -- and remember they can't play in their own land since the terror attack in 2009 on the Sri Lankan bus in Lahore, so use the United Arab Emirates as a de facto, although unsatisfactory home - has come a remarkable rehabilitation.

They have a top class leader in Misbah, who began his test career at Eden Park 15 years ago and after an in-and-out period of international activity, has fashioned a peerless record as a leader.

''You always play for that pride and honour," Misbah said yesterday. ''That's the only thing that keeps you going through your life. I am really happy for my team, whatever we achieve."

Misbah, a firm-minded Punjabi from Pakistan's north, talks about maintaining momentum, keeping the Pakistani roll going. He calls for discipline with the bat, not always a strong Pakistani suit, but under him there is more of it than in many periods in the past.

They won't lack it in New Zealand, with that No 1 test ranking within reach.

''That's always the big motivation. You play any sport you want to be the best. That's what we're looking forward to. We need to improve ourselves every day, every game. That becomes important for us."

- NZ Herald

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