Lahore: Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq feels 2019 has been a tough year for the country in Test cricket with their struggles against South Africa and Australia on the road, and has highlighted the need to improve performance.
Pakistan also just fell short of a semi-final berth at the World Cup in England and Wales on the basis of net run-rate. They beat Sri Lanka 2-0 at home in their last ODI assignment, but defeats to Australia and England have put a dent in their win-loss ratio.
Pakistan had thrashed Sri Lanka by a huge margin of 263 runs in the Karachi Test to win the historic two-match series 1-0 and end the year on a high.
“Pakistan ended 2019 on a high note with victory against Sri Lanka, but, overall, it was a tough year for Pakistan in Test cricket,” Misbah was quoted as saying by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
“In white-ball cricket, our mainstays like Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan, on the back of whom we had won the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, lost form at a crucial time, which saw us suffer in the ODI World Cup and T20I format. Though, we managed to stay No. 1 in the format throughout the year. Overall, our win ratio in T20I cricket has fallen,” he said.
“Going further, we have to improve a lot of things in both red-ball and white-ball cricket. This team has enough potential and new boys are also making their way in international cricket. There’s certainly a bright future ahead for us,” the former captain added.
Misbah also hailed the rise of Babar Azam as the top batsman in the country.
“The emergence of Babar Azam as a mega star across all formats is very good news for Pakistan cricket. He remained No. 1 in T20I cricket and is in the top ten batsmen in the ODI cricket.
“He played some brilliant innings in the World Cup and ended the year by establishing himself as a Test batsman with scintillating performances in Australia and two centuries against Sri Lanka in Pakistan,” he said.
Misbah also lavished praise on rookie Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah Afridi, saying the quicks have been impressive in the five-day format.
“Some of the new bowlers like Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi have arrived at the scene and they have been impressive in Test cricket. Naseem got five wickets in the last Test against Sri Lanka. Shaheen bowled well in the World Cup and he showed glimpses of being a Test bowler in South Africa, and bowled really well in Australia and here in Pakistan against Sri Lanka.
“We will, hopefully, bank on these two promising fast-bowlers in the future,” he added.
Stressing on the need to play more red-ball cricket, Misbah said there is work to be done ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia in October, 2020.
“Overall, we are on the right track. The more we play the longer format, the more we will improve. We need to do a lot of work in white-ball cricket ahead of the all-important ICC T20 World Cup next year,” he said.
“Retaining No. 1 position in T20Is was a big positive for us. No doubt, we did not perform up to the set standards, but this is something we look to build on.
“Mohammad Rizwan performed very well for us in Australia, which was very good for us. Iftikhar Ahmed joined the team in the latter part of the year and the way he has put up performances in the T20I was certainly a plus for us. We can go a long way with a few more additions in the side and with the present players maturing,” Misbah concluded.