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Misbah wants all-round improvement

Pakistan skipper justifies his decisions in final ODI

Image Credit: AFP
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq plays a reverse sweep shot in front of Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade during the third and last One Day International.
Gulf News

Sharjah: Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq is groping for answers after his team’s defeat to Australia in conditions which were more familiar to them.

Misbah was a dejected man after the series defeat here, especially after his team staged a comeback to level the series in Abu Dhabi and his openers giving them hope in the decider with a century partnership in Sharjah.

“We have to improve in every department of the game — especially we have to find ways for a right combination of fast bowling, an area in which we are really struggling. We have to improve our batting and fielding. At important stages of the game our batting also collapses and we also missed chances in fielding. We have to work very hard on these areas,” he said.

Misbah went into the final with only one pace bowler, Junaid Khan, and even opened the bowling with spinner Mohammad Hafeez. “Spinners are our strength. Last match too we gave our preference to spinners. Moreover, everyone knows that the Sharjah wicket is slow and so the opposition struggles against spin and so we went with only one pacer,” he said.

“But if you keep on losing wickets in powerplays that is going only in favour of the opponents. Powerplays are for the set batsman out there just like Nasir [Jamshed] and Hafeez did when they took full advantage.”

Star man Shahid Afridi returned to the team for the final match after missing the Abu Dhabi game due to injury. Misbah used him not only to strengthen his bowling, but also promoted him up the batting order to No. 3, where he fell for just seven after a golden duck in the opening match.

Justifying his decision, Misbah said: “We included Afridi because we wanted to strengthen our spin department. Afridi had also bowled well in the first game here and that is why we brought him back. I promoted him up the order thinking he would get some time to set, but unfortunately he could not get runs.

“The big difference was the behaviour of the wicket and also the outfield. Edges off even our spinners went for boundaries, but when we batted the ball wasn’t travelling. Even when we played their fast bowler to fine leg and third man, it was not going towards the boundary. I do not know if that was the dew factor or not, but it happened.

“The wicket was slow when we were batting. The ball used to stop and so whoever went out to bat found runs hard to come by. Whenever a new batsman went in it was tough for him as the ball was also reversing and they used all variations effectively.

“I feel our score, for the conditions, was good, but we needed another 10 to 15 runs more. If we took early wickets too we could have won the match.”