Pakistan Test skipper Misbah-Ul-Haq believes his side can bounce back against challenging Australian team after going down 2-0 in New Zealand. Pakistan are scheduled to play three Tests against Steven Smith’s men, starting December 15.
“It goes without saying that Australia is a very challenging place to tour. It is arguably toughest of all the countries along with South Africa because of the bounce and pace in the wickets. Maybe that is why no Asian side has ever won a Test series at these two places and that will be a huge motivation for us,” Misbah-Ul-Haq said in his column for cricket.com.au
Misbah claimed his side has the capability of pulling off spectacular performances in the series Down Under as they have performed quite well since past five years in Tests.
“We are up for the challenge and, as I mentioned, I want to be first Asian side to win in Australia. That is the goal that we have set as a team,” Misbah said.
His side struggled in the seaming conditions and that threat would be looming large in Australia too as the hosts have a quality pace-battery lined-up for the series.
“Many great Pakistan teams have been to these shores before but left without winning so our goal in this series will be to conquer an unchartered territory. I feel this team has the potential to be the first Pakistan side to win a Test series in Australia,” Misbah remarked.
It becomes pertinent to mention Pakistan’s top-order has struggled in the seaming conditions. However, Sami Aslam and Babar Azam showed some resilience to score some half-centuries for Pakistan in two Tests against New Zealand, spread over four innings which seems a brighter prospect for them.
Pakistan had a practice match against inexperienced Cricket Australia XI in Cairns which they won comfortably while giving some much-needed opportunity to their batsmen and bowlers to prepare well for the series.
“We needed to practice with pink balls too and the ball swung much more in our tour match in Cairns against the Cricket Australia XI than it did in Dubai where we hosted West Indies for a day-night Test couple of months ago,” Misbah said.
Pakistan became No. 1 in Test Rankings in August this year and slipped to No. 4 while losing both the Tests in Christchurch and Hamilton, before winning a three-match Test series at their fortress (UAE) 2-1 against West Indies.
“We understand that we have not been at our very best in the last three Tests but I feel the team is determined to bounce back. They are hurt by the recent series defeat in New Zealand. But we can look at it positively, as the side now feels more determined to show that we are one of the better Test sides in the world. Everyone is working hard and badly wants to get back to winning ways,” Misbah further said.
The 42-year-old Misbah has represented Pakistan in over 250 matches (across all formats) since appearing in the international scene in 2001. Calm and composed skipper, who has no immediate plans to quit Test cricket, feels Australia is the best place to start winning for the national side after their recent poor show.
“Our batsmen had been our strength and have done so well in recent years but, regrettably, most of them have lost form at the same time. This been the major reason behind our last three defeats,” Misbah added.
Misbah believes the pink ball in Australia is doing much more than it did in the UAE, where they won their first Day/Night Test against the West Indies.
“In the UAE, there was no swing when the ball was new nor was there any when we bowled under lights. But in Australia, even in the net sessions that we’ve had at the Gabba, we noticed substantial swing, which could be due to the extra couple of coatings of lacquer on the balls used here. It is a good sign for our bowlers, as they benefited from that swing in the match at Cazaly’s Stadium,” Misbah further added.
Misbah was handed a one-match ban for the slower over-rate in the first Test at Christchurch. Leaving the series mid-way, he immediately returned home after the demise of his father-in-law.
“We just need to not repeat past mistakes. I myself played a few rash shots this year but I will be more careful now. I feel our batting will come out as a potent force after going through the challenges in New Zealand. We have had ample time to adjust to the conditions and we will have a better mind set in the coming series,” Misbah said.
Misbah also lavished praise on Australian bowlers and said the bouncy tracks in their courtyard will Test Pakistan’s batting line-up but also made it clear his team is ready for the challenge after learning some lessons in New Zealand.
“Australia is an exciting and challenging team and a very tough team to beat at home so we are expecting an interesting series against them. Although they have some new talented faces in the team, the inexperience is something that we can look to exploit,” Misbah concluded.
On the other hand, star leg-spinner Yasir Shah has bowled in the nets without any sort of trouble and he’s likely to appear in the day-and-night affair.