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They are a talented team which has traditionally included some brilliant individuals. But who has been the most successful captain of Pakistan over the years?
Who is the Best Captain of Pakistan?
The best captain in the history of Pakistan cricket is Imran Khan. He led the team to their first major success in an ICC trophy when they won the World Cup in 1992.
Statistically, Imran is also the best in terms of numbers of wins. Pakistan won 89 of their matches when he was in charge.
Most Successful Captains of Pakistan
We’ve just seen that Imran Khan is Pakistan’s most successful cricket captain. The team won 89 of their matches when he was skipper and that’s significantly more than any other player.
Imran also led from the front as the team won the 1992 World Cup in Australia. This was a fighting team under his leadership who would be inspired by the way he played the game. They would give no quarter against any opponent and I must say that I wasn’t surprised to learn that Imran Khan was Pakistan’s most successful captain in terms of number of wins.
Wasim Akram was a part of that 1992 squad that won the World Cup under Imran Khan. When his predecessor retired, Wasim went on to become a very successful captain of Pakistan in his own right.
He was undoubtedly a good leader, but he also enjoyed the benefit of skippering some of the country’s best ever players. Along with Waqar Younis, Wasim contributed to a fearsome bowling attack. As captain, he is second on this list, leading Pakistan to 78 wins in the time that he was in charge.
He is another player who could be considered as Pakistan’s greatest ever batsman. Javed Miandad scored over 16,000 international runs and he is still the team’s leading run scorer in test matches.
Javed seemed a logical choice to take over from Asif Iqbal as the country’s captain in 1980. He would go on to lead the side in separate spells, either side of Imran Khan and Zaheer Abbas.
Javed Miandad’s batting wasn’t affected by the extra pressure of the captaincy and he continued to score heavily. He also secured a number of wins during some difficult periods for the national side with 14 victories in test matches and 26 in One Day Internationals.
While his career ended in controversial circumstances, Saleem Malik enjoyed some significant success as captain of Pakistan. He was in charge of the test and ODI teams during the mid-1990s and, while his tenure was relatively short, he enjoyed a good ratio of wins during that time.
Malik led the side for 12 test matches and 34 One Day Internationals. His record in ODIs was especially impressive and he won 21 of those games, losing just 11 times. In test cricket, his limited run as skipper saw seven wins, plus three draws and just two defeats. His win percentage was one of the best among all Pakistan captains of any era, but Saleem Malik’s reputation was undoubtedly ruined by match fixing controversy.
A member of a great Pakistani cricketing family, Mushtaq Mohammad was something of a genuine all rounder. He will probably be remembered more for his efficient batting which produced 3,852 international runs in two formats, but he also claimed 79 wickets with his leg spin.
Mushtaq led Pakistan in 19 test matches and four one day internationals in the 1970s. He won eight of his 19 tests and two of those four ODIs, so his ratio is comparable to many of the great skippers in the country’s history.
He was one of the greatest batsmen of all time and, for many years, Hanif Mohammed held the record for the highest individual score in first class cricket. His 499 from 1959 stood until it was eventually overtaken by Brian Lara, and he was prolific at international level too. Hanif made 3,915 test runs for his country with 12 centuries and a top score of 337.
Hanif led Pakistan in just eleven tests from 1964 until 1967. He won just two matches in that period, but his team proved to be tough to overcome and they also lost just two games. The remaining seven tests under Hanif Mohammad’s tenure ended in draws.
Not to be confused with a brilliant Pakistani leg spinner of a similar name, Abdul Kardar was the captain of the team when they played their first ever test match against India in 1952. Kardur had, in fact, previously played in tests for India and he is one of only three players to have featured for both teams.
During his time as the Pakistan test captain, the team won six, lost six and drew 11 of Kardar’s 23 matches.
Having taken over the leadership of Pakistan at a difficult time in their history, Misbah-ul-Haq would eventually become one of its most successful captains. It’s said that he was a calming influence over a volatile side during his tenure from 2008 to 2017.
Misbah could also lead from the front and he would eventually go on to become one of his country’s most successful batsmen. During his captaincy, he led the Pakistan team to 71 wins across test and ODI formats.
Another man who led the Pakistan team by example was Inzamam-ul-Haq. He would finish his career as the team’s leading run scorer in ODIs and his final tally of 11,701 runs in this format is a record that is likely to remain in place for some time.
His team often responded to his great displays with the bat and Inzamam enjoyed some success in tests and in limited overs cricket. In total, the team won 62 of their matches while he was in charge.
Wasim Akram’s fast bowling partner Waqar Younis only led the team in 17 test matches, but he won ten of those. That’s an exceptional ratio and it’s one that helps Waqar become one of his country’s most successful captains.
He also led the team in 62 One Day Internationals and Pakistan won no fewer than 37 of those. That overall ratio of 47 wins in 79 games could suggest that Waqar was the best skipper that Pakistan had. He would have needed to enjoy a longer period in charge for that theory to be confirmed, but it’s still an exceptional set of results for this great fast bowler.
It’s interesting to note that Pakistan have often chosen their best player to lead the side. In other countries, there may be a tendency to simply look at who would be a good leader, but maybe that’s not the case here.
Of course, many of those choices have proved to be wise ones, but there are others who have not done so well. The names on this list have all inspired their side to respond and become the best players that they can be.
The challenge, as always, is for the next generation to join this list. As I write this guide in 2023, Babar Azam leads the side in all three formats. He’s another exceptional batter, but can he go on to become one of Pakistan’s most successful captains too?