The almost-there man of Pakistan cricket

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Kolkata, Dec 4 (UNI) Misbah-ul-haq is soon gaining a cult status of emerging as the tragic hero of Pakistan cricket, being beaten by his spur-of-the-moment when needed most.

The brittle Pakistani top order has more often than not crumbled around him and he has stood tall in the ruins amid ruins.

But just when he shows the light of the day, as his name signifies, he is gone. Gone just when the win is within the cusp of the hand.

He scored his maiden ton here at the Eden and single handedly bailed out Pakistan from the ignominy of facing a follow-on. He was a hero.

In the second innings at 65 for three, Pakistan needed a big one from him like never before. But he failed yet again. And there is a sense of tragic element to it.

Munaf Patel who has had an ordinary Test, to say the least, produced a near perfect in-cutter that slashed through Misbah's defences and rattled his woodwork.

He did his best, but that was not enough. It was not enough in New Delhi when he hit his maiden fifty and with Mohd. Sami showing the kind of guts and gumption that would embarrass the frontline Pakistani batsmen who showed no stomach for a fight.

But the Mianwali-born cricketer failed. Misbah pushed Sourav Ganguly to the point region and ran for a single. Dinesh Karthik had to shy at the stumps at the non-strikers end. Inches off the crease and still not grounding his bat, Misbah did the unthinkable and leapt in the air to avoid being hit by the throw. It only cleared the balls passage to the stumps and the bails were off. It was Misbah's undoing, by his own hands.

Back to Twenty20 World Cup and his reverse sweep and Sreesanth's joy. He had knelt down on to the ground, holding his head in disbelief. Today he walked back head buried in his chest.

He's an innovative player, executes the most difficult shots in the book. Misbah-ul-Haq loves the sweeps, slog-sweeps, reverse sweeps and the soft paddle, but when it matters most all his machismo gives way.

The 32-year old batsman had failed to establish himself in Pakistan's national team throughout his career and after five years in cricketing wilderness he came back to the side at the cost of Mohd Yousuf and repaid by standing in the line of fire whenever Paistan needed him.

But like the mythological Karna, he looks helpless when it matters most.

UNI

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