Dubai: Pakistan head coach Misbah-Ul-Haq put up a brave face after a so-near-yet-so-far performance from them in the first Test when they allowed hosts England to slip to a three-wicket victory on Sunday.
“There is disappointment, of course, but we must not keep that feeling in our minds otherwise it will be difficult to come back... the team believes we can fight back. Sometimes luck doesn’t favour you, sometimes the opposition plays well - that’s the beauty of the game,” the former captain wrote in his column on the Pakistan Cricket Board’s website.
It was a spirited performance from Azhar Ali’s men at the Old Trafford on the first four days till they were found wanting in trying to break the sixth wicket partnership between Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes, who counter-attacked to take the match away from the visitors in chasing a target of 277. Buttler was eventually dismissed on 75 off 101 balls but Woakes carried on and took England over the line. He stood unbeaten on 84 off 120 balls.
Azhar’s captaincy came in for a bit of flak on the last day, with former Pakistan stars ripping into him for not attacking enough. Misbah, however, did not get into such nitty gritties and backed his captain all the way.
He hailed Azhar’s decision to bat first and praised opener Shan Masood’s epic 156 off 319 balls in the first innings.
“It was a brave decision to bat first against England’s bowling attack in those conditions,” said Misbah. “Shan Masood batted really well and... should be given a lot of credit for his innings. He’s been working so hard... he’s changed a few things in his set up. He’s a different batsman.
“The bowling was also excellent. It’s a young seam attack, apart from Mohammad Abbas, and both Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah did really well.”
Praising England’s performance, Misbah wrote: “It was a thrilling Test match and full credit must go to England for the way they fought back, came from behind and took the game away from us.”
Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram feels middle-order batsman Fawad Alam should be included in the playing XI for the second Test starting at Southampton on Thursday.
The last two matches will now be played at the Ageas Bowl and Akram stated ball won’t turn as much at the venue so the visitors will have to include an extra batsman.
“In the next match, you won’t find a turning wicket,” Akram told Samaa TV. “You will play with one spinner and you will have to play with an extra batsman.
“You need a middle-order batsman and Fawad Alam is the one. He is also a left-hander, so the team can have a left-right combination.
“He has an average of 56 in first-class cricket, has a hundred on Test debut, so you will have to give him a chance. So if I was the captain, I would include him in the middle order,” he added.
Meanwhile, former great Rashid Latif has urged the team management to include Haider Ali in the playing XI for the crucial game.
“Haider Ali is missing from this team. His time to play is now and if he doesn’t play, you will waste one year of his career,” Latif said on his YouTube channel ‘Caught Behind’.
“We are waiting for Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq to retire before including Haider Ali but by then it will be too late,” he added.