Sharjah: There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq. The humiliating 117-run defeat in the last one-day international in Sharjah against a South African bowling attack minus Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel left Pakistan’s batting at a new low.
“It is a big worry as a captain and as a cricket board,” said Misbah after South Africa completed a 4-1 rout of his side in the five-match series. “For us, it is a big question mark and a difficult scenario. We have kept on trying different people and they have been given chances but nobody is coming up to the expectations.”
So morale-shattering has been the defeat that it will take a while for the team to recover, said Misbah. “Yes, this sort of defeat will have an impact, especially when you lose in your own condition,” he said. “It will have an impact on our minds. On a flat track, if you are getting out for 150 and your lower-order batsmen are not able to score 10 to 15 runs in 50 balls, then you can’t lift the team up.”
While the entire Pakistan batting unit repeatedly ended up on the back foot, the only player to come up with spirited performances was newcomer Sohaib Maqsood. He scored another defiant half-century and made everyone sit up and take notice.
Misbah acknowledged that Maqsood’s batting was the only plus point of the series. “The only ray of hope is Maqsood,” he said. “His batting has been the only positive for us. He performed and gave a big hope for us. To do well against a top-quality bowling attack like South Africa shows that he has temperament and he looked really comfortable out there. His shot selection was also good and he gives us some hope for our batting line-up.”
Misbah added that the long-term solution to the problem was to provide upcoming players with opportunities to play overseas.
“It’s very important to have our under-19 and Pakistan A team tours abroad,” he said. “I have spoken to the board about it. It is the only way we can groom our batsmen. They should be allowed to play some domestic cricket in South Africa. Only if they play tough cricket in these countries, our batting standards will improve.”
As to his future, Misbah wants to remain as captain at least until the 2015 World Cup. “I have always said you don’t know what the future holds for you,” he said. “It depends on how fit you are. My aim is to try and give the best performance till the time I’m there and I want to do that. As a leader, I have to take the blame and the responsibility for the entire team.”