Ladies and Gentlemen! Please stand up and applaud Pakistan Cricket team on becoming the No. 1 test team in the world. They have achieved this feat under the leadership of Misbah-ul-Haq. This is the 2nd time in the history of Pakistan test cricket that they have achieved No. 1 position in test cricket since 1988.

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Pakistan Cricket team was hated by the fans in 2010 all across the world for obvious reasons. There were calls to ban Pakistan Cricket for good couple of years when 3 Pakistani cricketers tarnished the country’s image by spot-fixing at the home of cricket against England. However, today in 2016, they are loved among fans across the globe. What do you think is the reason of this exceptional transformation? The answer is simple: Intent, hard work, dedication and application of Pakistan Cricket team.

There is one man who played a vital role in developing Pakistan test team. He was contemplating retirement in July 2011 but fortunately for Pakistan he did not. He is one of the reasons Pakistan test team is currently ranked No. 1 in the world. He led the team remarkably well amid no home cricket for years, 3 key players (Salman Butt, Muhammed Amir and Muhammed Asif) banned for 5 years and limited resources. He led, played, and developed, coached, trained and mentored team in such a professional manner that nobody expected such a turnaround from a Pakistani for a longer period of time. The man, the leader, the conqueror, the king, Misbah-ul-Haq has been doing it for the country since 2010.

How did it all start?

On 8th October 2010, Misbah-ul-Haq was appointed Pakistan’s test captain at the age of 36. The move was criticized so much that even the then chief selector, Mohsin Khan, wasn’t pleased with the decision. He stated that:

“The selection committee has nothing to do with the appointment of the captain”

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When Misbah took over the charge of Pakistan in 2010, Pakistan was ranked no. 6 in test rankings with 88 points. At that time, India was ranked No. 1 with whopping 129 points. There was a difference of massive 41 points between the No. 6 and No. 1 ranked team then.

Pakistan’s first major test was against South Africa in UAE after the spot-fixing scandal. Misbah was in charge of a fairly weaker team without two brilliant bowlers, Muhammed Asif and Muhammed Amir. He was also without the services of a stable opener, Salman Butt. However, Misbah looked ahead and continued to lead Pakistan with limited resources.

Pakistan in tests since November 2010

Pakistan played 19 test series since November 2010 against all test playing nations at least once except for India. The break-up is as following:

• 1 tests series against Australia and West Indies and Zimbabwe each
• 2 tests series against Bangladesh, New Zealand and Zimbabwe each
• 3 tests series against England and South Africa each
• 5 tests series against Sri Lanka

Out of these 19 test series, Pakistan hosted 8 series (in UAE) while they played 11 away (home of opposition). Pakistan did not lose single series in UAE out of 8 test series. They won 5 series while 3 of them were drawn. Have a look at the following table:

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Pakistan played 11 series away from UAE since November 2010. Pakistan managed to lose only 3 series while they won 5 series. 3 of the series ended in draw.

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Pakistan’s massive series loss came against South Africa in 2012/13 when they were pounded 3-0.

In total, Pakistan played 47 tests since November 2010. They came victorious in 22 matches while they lost 14 matches. 11 matches were ended in a draw. Pakistan’s winning percentage during this period is 1.571 which is the best by all test playing nations.

Highest run scorer and wicket taker since November 2010

At an average of 59.09, Younis Khan is Pakistan’s highest run scorer with 4196 runs with 16 centuries and 9 fifty-plus scores. He was Misbah’s go to man who played key role in Pakistan’s victories both in UAE and away from home.

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Misbah scored 3626 runs for Pakistan since November 2010 at an average of 54.93 with 8 tons and 30 half-centuries. Besides leading Pakistan to memorable victories, he also contributed with the bat.

When it comes to bowling, Saeed Ajmal was Misbah’s go-to man. He picked whopping 148 wickets at 26.27. Second on the list is Yasir Shah who secured 95 wickets in just 16 matches at 27.48. However, he used to strike after every 53.7th delivery as compared to Ajmal’s 62.9th.

Newly inducted cricketer Saeed Ajmal holds up a finger during a practice session in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Pakistan's cricket team is due to arrive in Bangladesh next Monday for three ODIs, a Twenty20 match and two test matches. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Misbah-ul-Haq as a captain

Before becoming test captain of Pakistan cricket team, Misbah had played 19 tests for the country. Since becoming the captain, he led Pakistan in 46 matches out of 47 since November 2010. The only match that he missed was against Sri Lanka as he was banned from 1 test due to slow over rate in the 5th ODI of preceding series.

In terms of wins, Misbah-ul-Haq is Pakistan’s most successful test captain with 22 wins. The next best on the list are Imran Khan and Javed Miandad (14 wins each). Among captains who led Pakistan in at least 20 tests, the winning percentage under Javed Miandad is 2.33 which is phenomenal keeping in mind the tenure in which he had to lead Pakistan. Misbah’s W/L ratio is 1.69%.

Most M.O.T.M and M.O.T.S awards since November 2010

Younis Khan is the only Pakistan who was at the received end of 6 man of the match awards. No other Pakistani player managed to secure more than 3 such awards. Azhar Ali was next on the list who obtained 3 such awards.

As far as man of the series award is concerned, Younis Khan leads the chart along with Saeed Ajmal. Both these players got 3 such awards.

Key achievements of Pakistan test cricket team since November 2010

Under the leadership of Misbah, Pakistan achieved plenty of individual and collective milestones. Following are some of the key moments/achievements of Pakistan in last 6 years:

1- Drawn series against South Africa in 2010

South Africa was No. 2 ranked team then. Pakistan was on No. 6 position. Pakistan team managed to draw the series by battling hard and saving both tests through their great batting performances. Drawing the series against South Africa even in UAE was a herculean effort from Misbah and his team especially it was Pakistan’s first test series after spot-fixing scandal.

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2- First series win away from home

Misbah’s first test win as a captain came against New Zealand away from home in January 2011. A new chapter began in Misbah’s extraordinary career since Pakistan managed to beat New Zealand 1-0 in 2 match test series. The series win was an indication of what was coming ahead and that the future of Pakistan test cricket is in safe hands.

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3- Series win against Sri Lanka in UAE in 2011/12

To be fair to Misbah, he had a rollicking start to his captaincy tenure. Besides winning home and away series against Sri Lanka and New Zealand, he drew series against South Africa and West Indies. Pakistan’s chief exponent with the ball, Saeed Ajmal picked 18 wickets in the series to earn the man of the series award.

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4- Whitewash against the then No. 1 test team

Pakistan’s hallmark performance came against the then No. 1 test team in the world England whey they were ruthlessly whitewashed by Pakistan 3-0 in UAE. It was a stunning performance from Pakistan cricket team as they literally stunned and spun English team. One of the highlights of the series was when Pakistan reduced England to mere 72 runs when they were chasing 145 runs. Once again for his exceptional bowling performance and 24 wickets in the series, Saeed Ajmal was named man of the series.

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5- Fastest 300+ run chase in the history of test cricket

Pakistan has the unique and unlikely distinction of racing their way to the fastest 300+ chase ever in the history of test cricket. Earlier in 2014, Pakistan was set a target of 302 runs off 59 overs which Pakistan successfully managed in 57.2 overs at 5.25 RPO against Sri Lanka to level the 3 match test series 1-1.

Pakistani cricket team captain Misbah-ul-Haq celebrates after winning the final day of the third and final cricket Test match against Sri Lanka at the Sharjah International Cricket Stadium, in the Gulf emirate of Shrajah on January 20, 2014. Pakistan pulled off a thrilling five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the third and final Test, levelling the series at 1-1. AFP P PHOTO/ISHARA S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

6- Misbah’s then fastest test century

Misbah-ul-Haq smoked the then joint fastest test century in the history of test cricket off just 56 balls against Australia in 2014 when Australia toured UAE to play 2 match test series against Pakistan. He equaled Sir Vivian Richards’ record of the then fastest century who also smashed the 100 off 56 balls as well.

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7- Whitewash against Australia

Pakistan managed to whitewash Australia in UAE when they won 2-0. Prior to that, Pakistan lost 13 consecutive tests against Australia.

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8- Younis Khan becomes highest test century scorer from Pakistan

In 2 tests against Australia, Younis Khan smacked 3 consecutive centuries in first 3 innings before getting out in 4th one after scoring 46 runs. During his second hundred against Australia in the second innings of 1st test, he became Pakistan’s highest century scorer (26) from Pakistan. Currently he has 32 centuries to his name. He was also named man of the series for his sizzling batting form throughout the series.

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9- Highest successful chase in tests from Pakistan

Pakistan’s reputation is quite poor when it comes to chasing. They were already 1-0 up in the series and in the 3rd test they were set a target of 377 runs against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. Pakistan was struggling at 13/2 and Pakistan’s loss looked inevitable. However, Shan Masood and Younis Khan scripted one of Pakistan’s greatest test victories when they successfully chased 377 runs. The former scored 125 runs while Younis Khan remained unbeaten on 171* runs to script Pakistan’s highest and sixth highest chase overall in tests.

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10- Lord’s redemption, push-ups and victory at The Oval

Pakistan recently completed their England tour without any controversy. They managed to draw the series after winning tests at Lord’s and Oval. Victory at Lord’s was sweet since Pakistan regained their lost respect which they lost in 2010 when the trio (Salman, Amir and Asif) stained Pakistan’s image by spot-fixing. England was 2-1 up in the series before going into the fourth test. However, they lost to completely determined Pakistan side courtesy Younis Khan’s scintillating 218 runs. The series was drawn 2-2 in England which was as good as a win.

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Amid sweet victories, the whole world witnessed Pakistan celebrating their Lord’s win by doing push-ups. A sight that has never been seen in cricket before, ever!

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Pakistan was also ranked No. 1 in tests under Imran Khan in 1988

Prior to becoming No. 1 test team today, the only other time Pakistan was ranked No. 1 in the ICC test team rankings was in 1988 when Imran Khan was Pakistan’s captain.

Between October 1985 to December 1989, Pakistan played 10 Test series (5 at home [Pakistan] and 5 away [home of opposition]). Remarkably, Pakistan did not lose single series during this period i.e. 4 years and 2 months.

On top of it, Pakistan only lost 3 Test matches during this period, against Sri Lanka once and twice vs West Indies. In the same time frame, Pakistan managed to win 9 Test matches against 5 different teams.

Moreover, Pakistan also managed to win Test series against England in England (1-0), against India in India (1-0) and drew the series 1-1 against the then mighty West Indies team in West Indies during this tenure. However, Pakistan stayed at No. 1 position for two months – August and September.

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Moving forward

Pakistan is now ranked No. 1 with 112 points. India is just 1 point behind their arch-rivals with 111 points. Pakistan’s next assignment is going to be against West Indies in UAE. Both teams are expected to play 3 match test series. Moreover, Pakistan will also go to New Zealand and Australia later this year to play 2 and 3 match test series respectively.

Ideally, it would be important for Pakistan to maintain their position by performing well both home and away. They will be facing fierce competition from India who will be playing plenty of cricket, that too at home, in a battle of No. 1 test team.

Now that Pakistan is officially No. 1 ranked test team in the world, share your favorite moment/memory of the test team in the past 6 years in the comment section below!

Published in Pakistan Insider, 22nd August 2016