As Pakistan’s Test captain Misbah-ul-haq neared his first test century in England – that too at the famous Lord’s, the crowd grew visibly nervous. A few awkward balls, and a few audience jitters later, he calmly guided the ball down the pitch and took the run that would make him the sixth oldest centurion in Test cricket.

While his unbeaten knock on the first day was an act of class, the crowd was treated to something much better. The 42-year and 47-day old skipper saluted the balcony, got down on the ground and did ten pushups – jumping up like an agile athlete on the last. Simple and elegant, Misbah’s celebration brought gales of joy and laughter to commentators and spectators alike, and gave Pakistan a rare reason to smile.

Perhaps more crucially, his celebration cleverly underlined a curious fact, that the two oldest players in the team – Misbah-ul-haq and Younis Khan – are the two most physically fit players in the squad. After the first day Misbah revealed that he promised the army trainers he would do pushups if he scored a century – referring the fitness crash course the squad had to go through at the Pakistan Military academy in Kakul.  

While Misbah’s heroics on Pakistan’s historic return to the Lord’s will surely go down as a cricketing legend, the reason he had to do it need further consideration.

Behind the scenes lies that fact that Pakistan’s premier sportsmen remain unfit – an unthinkable fact in the modern age. Even more problematic is the situation of other sports. No Pakistani qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio; a far cry from the day it dominated in sports such as Squash and Hockey. The players complain of outdated equipment, obsolete training methods and lack of funds.

Misbah’s pushup’s maybe a message for the critics who doubt his talent, but it is arguably also a message to the Pakistani government about the deterioration of Pakistani sports.