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Sunday Jan 24 2021

Pakistan has a fighting chance to improve its record against South Africa, Misbah says

Pakistan Cricket team Head coach Misbah-ul-Haq. — Photo courtesy PCB

KARACHI: Pakistan’s head coach Misbah ul Haq feels that Pakistan has a good opportunity to improve its record against South Africa in the upcoming two match Test series starting from Tuesday.

Speaking to journalists on Sunday, Misbah said that previously South Africa was a very strong side with top quality batsmen who were very good against spin bowlers and were backed by an equally strong bowling line up.

The Pakistan coach believes that it might not be the same case this time  and that Pakistan will have an advantage as most of the players have been playing in conditions similar to the home ground.

“South Africa had a good amount of strength in the past. They had decent spinners and then batsmen who could play against a spin attack well but this is slightly a different South African side and we look forward to improve our record against them. We will try to exploit their weaknesses. This is the time for us to play good cricket against them,” Misbah said.

“The home team always has the edge due to home conditions; we also have an edge because our players have been playing domestic cricket here in Karachi. So, they know how things are going to be. So, we have a good opportunity against South Africa to do well and win the series,” the 46-year-old added.

The former captain said that Pakistan has practiced well according to the playing conditions and special drills were carried out to improve standards of fielding. He said the team is therefore confident ahead of the Test series.

'Doesn't matter what people are saying'

The head coach was also asked about his performance as the team’s coach and while he agreed that he is not fully satisfied with the performance, he said that he is not worried about what is being said about his future.

“We have always played our cricket under pressure; it doesn’t matter what people have been saying and there is no guarantee and no surety. What is important is how you respond to the job in hand,” he said.

“Pressure is always there on anyone, be it a coach or player, but you’ve got to deal with it. The results are not in your control, so you don’t think much about it. What is in your control is your strategy and execution. So, you’ll have to be perfect [in those areas],” the head coach said.

Misbah, replying to a question, said that the presence of Saqlain Mushtaq and Mohammad Yousuf is beneficial for the players and the team’s overall strength. He brushed aside the suggestion that having too many coaches on the field might create problems for players.

'No comparison between NZ and SA'

He said that the results of Pakistan’s series in New Zealand won’t have any impact on Pakistan’s preparation for the series against South Africa as there’s no comparison.

“We played in different conditions in New Zealand than the scenarios that we would have while playing in Pakistan. Your strategy here will be different from what it was in New Zealand. So we will forget what happened in New Zealand and plan according to the conditions and requirements of playing in Pakistan.” Misbah said.

'Babar should have a free hand'

He also backed Babar as captain and said that the skipper should be empowered and have freedom to execute his plans according to his understanding when he’s there on the field.

“You learn things when you start doing them. Babar is learning well as captain. He has been discussing everything and how to execute his plans so that we can have our mind prepared for the match day," Misbah said.

"Babar is an intelligent cricketer and he understands the game. He should be given a free hand to execute his plans [...] that’s how he will learn captaincy,” Misbah added.