Test Captain Misbah-ul-Haq is returning to Pakistan from New Zealand due to the death of his father-in-law, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said Sunday.
The Test skipper will likely miss the second Test against the Kiwis. Misbah was missing from the post-match formalities after his side lost the first test by eight wickets to New Zealand at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Sunday.
Misbah’s father-in-law was critically ill, and had been hospitalised and placed in intensive care, a team spokesman earlier told Reuters. He said it would be “difficult” for the skipper to return in time for the match at Seddon Park.
PCB Chairman Sheheryar Khan announced that ODI Captain Azhar Ali will lead the team in Misbah’s absence.
Ali, addressing the media, confirmed the captain was heading back to Pakistan, and added that Misbah’s absence would be a big loss for his side if he did not make it back in time for the match. Travel time between the two countries is a minimum of 18 hours each way.
“We’ll miss him definitely,” Azhar said. “We have to cope with that now and whoever comes into the side will take that opportunity and give us runs, as well as the stability he gives us in the middle.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said while Misbah’s ability to galvanise his team and composed middle-order batting would be missed, he doubted the visitors would be under-strength for the Seddon Park game.
“Misbah is a fantastic leader, certainly a great middle order batter and a world class player,” Williamson said.
“When you’re without someone like that it is a loss. But (one of the) reasons why they’re number two (in the world) is because they have depth and experience. I’m sure they’ll find a suitable option for that middle order.”
Misbah on Friday became the first Pakistani to play 50 matches as Test captain as the green shirts took on the black caps on the second day of the first Test at Christchurch’s Hagley Oval.
Earlier this year, the 42-year-old became the oldest Test centurion in 82 years at the ‘home of cricket’ Lords when he reached three figures during a four-Test series against England.
Misbah also erased a 49-year-old Pakistan record at Lord’s by improving upon 76 made by Asif Iqbal in his maiden Test knock, while batting at No 9 in 1967.
With 10 centuries, and 36 half centuries in the bag, Misbah has overtaken current chairman of selectors Inzamam-ul-Haq’s seven, and Imran Khan and Javed Miandad’s records, each of whom have five apiece.
Remarkably, no one in the long history of Test match cricket has managed more centuries than Misbah beyond the age of 40.