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January 1, 2020

Under-achieving Pakistan have bright future: Misbah-ul-Haq


January 1, 2020

KARACHI: Before the second and final Test against Sri Lanka in Karachi last week, Misbah-ul-Haq was a man under extreme pressure.

Given an unprecedented twin role as head coach and chief selector by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Misbah saw his team lose against a second string Sri Lanka team at home and then get massacred at the hands of Australia Down Under.

But a timely series-winning triumph in the Karachi Test has certainly boosted his morale.

Acknowledging that 2019 was a ‘tough year’ for Pakistan, Misbah stressed on Tuesday that his players have a ‘bright future’.

“Pakistan ended 2019 on a high note with victory against Sri Lanka, but, overall, it was a tough year for Pakistan in Test cricket,” commented Misbah while recapping 2019.

“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 number one in the format throughout the year. Overall, our win ratio in T20I cricket has fallen.

“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 emergence of Babar Azam as a mega star across all formats is very good news for Pakistan cricket. He remained number one 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.

“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 a five-fer 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.

“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.

“Retaining number one 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 performances was certainly a plus for us.

“We can go a long way with a few more additions in the side and the present players maturing,” he signed off.