Best Test batting performance while captaining Pakistan

Misbah-ul-Haq tops the list with the highest run aggregate. He captained Pakistan a record 56 times and ran up a total of 4214 runs during his captaincy

Best Test batting performance while captaining Pakistan

Pakistan has had 35 Test captains since it started playing Test cricket. This list consists of 19 batsmen, 4 bowlers, 6 all rounders and 6 wicket keepers.

Seven of these thirty five captains have managed to score 1000 runs or more during their tenancy.

Misbah-ul-Haq tops the list with the highest run aggregate. He captained Pakistan a record 56 times and ran up a total of 4214 runs during his captaincy. Included in this tally were 8 centuries, which is the highest number of hundreds scored by a Pakistani while captaining his country. Amongst these hundreds was a century in each innings against Australia at Abu Dhabi in October 2014, one of which was made off just 56 deliveries, equaling Viv Richards record for the fastest century in Test cricket in terms of balls played. Misbah followed this feat with a third consecutive hundred in his very next knock, at the same venue just over a week later, the opponents on this occasion being New Zealand.

Misbah’s final century as Test captain was against England at Lord’s in 2016. He was 42 years and 2 months old at the time, becoming the oldest cricketer in 82 years to score a Test hundred, and the oldest captain ever to do so.

Misbah scored a century every 12.375 innings and his batting average during this period was 51.39, which is the fourth highest in this short list of seven. Interestingly, Misbah did not captain the national team even once on home grounds. As Pakistan was off-limits for Test cricket during Misbah’s entire reign of 56 Tests as captain, his performance was confined to playing on neutral venues like the UAE, or away on tour. This, in itself, constitutes a record that is unlikely to be broken.

The second highest aggregate of runs is, a little surprisingly, owned by Imran Khan. He captained the national squad in 48 Tests, scoring 2408 runs while leading the country. His average of 52.34 runs per innings is also the second highest in this elite group, just marginally behind the top average of 52.35. While a stress fracture of the tibia prevented him from bowling for over a year and a half during his peak, Imran focused more strongly on his batting, becoming a bedrock of the late middle order. He scored 5 hundreds during his leadership span, with a century every 12.80 innings. One of his centuries as captain, 117 versus India at Faisalabad, was scored in the same match in which he also took 11 wickets for 180 runs. This feat of scoring a century and taking 10 wickets in the same Test has only been achieved three times in the history of Test cricket, and only once by a captain. Imran was a genuine all rounder who, in the latter stages of his career could easily merit a place in any Test side on his batting prowess alone.

The third highest run tally is that of Inzamam-ul-Haq. Captaining Pakistan 31 times he scored 2397 runs during this period at an impressive average of 52.11 runs per innings, the fourth best in this exclusive cohort. His tally of 7 centuries as captain is second only to Misbah’s 8, with a hundred every 7.57 innings representing the second best frequency rate in the group. Two of these hundreds were scored in the same Test match versus England at Faisalabad in 2005. In his very next innings at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Inzamam was run out for a rapidly scored 97 from just 101 balls, narrowly missing the chance of scoring 3 consecutive hundreds as a Test captain.

Best Test batting performance while captaining Pakistan

Javed Miandad captained Pakistan in 34 Tests. During this time he scored 2354 runs, the fourth highest aggregate in this short list. His average was 50.09 and he notched up 5 centuries, reaching the three figure mark every 10.20 innings. Miandad’s 5 centuries included two double centuries, 203 not out versus Sri Lanka at Faisalabad and 211 against Australia at Karachi in 1988. This unbeaten knock of 203 was part of a 397 runs partnership for the fourth wicket in the company of Qasim Omar. This was the sixth highest stand in Test history at the time, and the highest against Sri Lanka.

Babar Azam has so far captained Pakistan in 20 Tests. His run tally in these Tests is 1727 runs at an average of 50.79 per innings. He has scored 4 centuries as captain, managing a ton every 8.75 innings.

Babar inherited the captaincy in 2021 in the 30th Test of his career. His first century came a year later in his 10th Test as a captain. Playing against Australia in Karachi, Pakistan had conceded a 408 run lead in the first innings, and after an early Australian declaration in their second knock, the home team was faced with a struggle for survival in their second innings with a mammoth deficit of 506 runs and almost two full days of play remaining. Babar showed his true mettle with a high quality innings of 196. This innings broke many records. It was the highest ever by a captain of any nationality in the fourth innings of a Test, beating Mike Atherton’s score of 185 against South Africa in Johannesburg in 1995. It was also the highest innings by any player in the fourth innings of a Test against Australia, the previous best being 192 by Kumar Sangakarra at Hobart in 2007.

During his monumental innings, Babar stayed at the crease for 603 minutes. This was the second longest individual knock in the fourth innings of a Test, only 40 minutes short of Mike Atherton’s long vigil of 643 minutes versus South Africa in 1995.

Babar faced 425 deliveries during his innings, the fourth highest number ever faced in the fourth innings of a Test by any batsman. Only Mike Atherton (492) versus South Africa in 1995, Herbert Sutcliffe (462) against Australia in 1928 and Sunil Gavaskar (443) versus England in 1979 have done better.

Babar also became the third player in the game to score a century in all three formats while captaining the side.

Babar’s fourth wicket partnership of 228 runs with Abdullah Shafique was Pakistan’s highest fourth wicket stand on home soil. Constructed in 524 balls, it was the longest 4th wicket partnership ever in terms of balls faced, surpassing the previous best of 500 deliveries faced by India’s Deep Dasgupta and Rahul Dravid versus South Africa in 2001.

Best Test batting performance while captaining Pakistan

Saleem Malik had a relatively brief interlude as Pakistan’s Test captain. He led the national side in 12 Tests from February 1994 to February 1995. During this one year period he was in fine fettle as a batsman scoring 1047 runs at an average of 52.35, which is the highest in this small group. His tally includes 3 centuries, two of them against Australia in successive home Tests. He scored a century every 7 innings, the best showing in this elite list. Allegations of match-fixing emerged during the series with Australia, bringing Saleem Malik’s captaincy to a premature close.

Mushtaq Mohammad is the seventh member on this list. He captained Pakistan in 19 Tests and qualifies as a genuine all rounder, altough in the national side his bowling was often neglected due to the presence of other leg spinners in the team. He totaled 1035 runs at an average of 33.39 with 3 centuries, scoring a hundred every 11 innings.

Mushtaq assumed the Test captaincy towards the end of his long career. He started with a bang, making two successive tons in his first three match series as captain versus New Zealand in 1976. His batting fell away after that and the only other century he scored as captain was in Trinidad against the West Indies in 1977. He scored a fifty in the second innings of that match and also took 5 West Indian wickets in their first knock and three in the second. He became the third captain to score a century and take a fifer in a Test, the previous two to achieve this being Denis Atkinson for the West Indies against Australia at Barbados in 1955, and Garry Sobers for the West Indies versus England at Leeds in 1966. Subsequently, as mentioned earlier in the article, this milestone was also reached by Imran Khan when playing against India at Faisalabad in 1982.

Two eminent Pakistani captains came close to the 1000 run figure during their captaincy of the national team.

Pakistan’s ace batsman for over a decade of its early Test cricketing days, Hanif Mohammad, captained Pakistan in 11 Tests. He scored 881 runs in these matches at an average of 58.73. His tally includes 4 centuries with a hundred coming every 4.50 innings. These figures speak highly of his great batting skill and how it prospered even further during his captaincy.

Abdul Hafeez Kardar led the side in its initial 23 Tests and accumulated 847 runs during this period at an average of 24.91 runs per innings. Kardar did not score any centuries and his top score was 93 against India at Karachi in 1955. While the numbers appear to be moderate, Kardar was a genuine all rounder and a natural leader of men who firmly established Pakistan’s position as a leading cricketing nation within half a dozen years of acquiring Test playing status.

The pressures of captaincy affect different players differently. While some crumble under its weight others revel in the additional responsibility and influence that it brings. Pakistan has been blessed with some outstanding cricketers who have used this position to showcase their talent and ability.

Best Test batting performance while captaining Pakistan

Today’s list identifies those who excelled at the batting crease while captaining Pakistan, but there are also leaders of our national side who shone with the ball and then some who demonstrated brilliance in both domains of the game.

Dr Salman Faridi is a senior surgeon, poet, sports aficionado and an avid reader with a private collection of over 7000 books.

Best Test batting performance while captaining Pakistan