Misbah eager to take on Australia

January 22, 2014 - 12:21:08 am
SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq yesterday urged his team to challenge the Ashes-winning Australia when they play them in their next Test series in the United Arab Emirates in October.

Pakistan achieved their fastest run chase of 302 to beat Sri Lanka in the third and final Test in Sharjah on Monday, levelling the series 1-1.

Misbah said he hoped his team would further lift their game to challenge Australia.

“Australia is a very professional team and against them you need to be focussed. You have to play with a lot of hard work because they come out with lots of plans, so I think it will be a a big challenge for us to play against Australia,” said Misbah.

Leading Pakistan since the 2010 spot-fixing controversy which led to bans for then captain Salman Butt and pacemen Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer, Misbah has now won 12 Tests out of 27, losing seven and drawing eight.

Misbah said he hoped Australia would be up to the challenge when they faced Pakistan.

“It would also be a challenge for them to face our spinners in these conditions,” said Misbah of Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman, who spun then world number one Test team 3-0 in UAE in 2012.

Misbah said his team would try to repeat the performance they gave against current world number one South Africa in October last year, drawing the two-match series 1-1.

“I think we will try to play the way we played against South Africa, we must repeat the same performance against them and show the world that we can reach the top level,” said Misbah.

“We have a young team and when you win matches like these you gain confidence and had there been another Test series close to this it would have benefitted us,” said Misbah, whose team next plays in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh in February-March.

“This team has been doing well and since we have more youngsters than seniors, problems like batting collapse are there but if these players play regularly then they will gain experience and get better and better.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan cricket authorities yesterday began the hunt for a new head coach for the national team, a day after Dav Whatmore’s two-year tenure ended with a series-levelling victory over Sri Lanka.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said in a statement it “has invited applications for the positions of head coach, batting coach and fielding coach for the national team”. 

Whatmore, a former Australian batsman who was born in Sri Lanka, was hired for a two-year tenure in March 2012. Last month he announced he would not seek to renew his contract after being criticised by former greats and interim chairman Najam Sethi.

The PCB said a committee including former stars Wasim Akram, Javed Miandad and Intikhab Alam would evaluate the applicants, with the decision to be finalised before next month’s Asia Cup in Bangladesh.

During Whatmore’s tenure Pakistan failed to win a Test series, losing to South Africa 3-0 in 2013 and Sri Lanka 1-0 in 2012, and drawing with Zimbabwe and South Africa 1-1 also in 2013.

But Whatmore said he was satisfied with the team’s showing -- Pakistan won the Asia Cup in March 2012 and beat India 2-1 in a one-day series early in 2013.

“This victory (against Sri Lanka) will be ranked up there, the series win in India and one-day win in South Africa (2013) and the Asia Cup, are pretty decent to start with. When we arrived we were not given any chances in South Africa so there were some high points,” said Whatmore.

Englishman Julian Fountain was serving as fielding coach until the third Test against Sri Lanka in Sharjah, which Pakistan won by five wickets to level the three-match series 1-1 on Monday.

They chased down 302 in 57.3 overs to achieve a thrilling victory.

Despite Monday’s heroics, Pakistan are also in dire need of a batting coach to address their vulnerable line-up. AGENCIES
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