Pakistan's captain for the two Tests to be played in the UAE next month, has hit back at criticism over his surprising elevation, arguing that he has not yet had the opportunity to show his capabilities as a leader. The series against South Africa will be Pakistan's first since the controversy-ridden trip to England, during which Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif, were provisionally suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) over their alleged involvement in a spot-fixing scandal.
With Butt, the captain on the England tour, suspended and Younus Khan in the wilderness, Misbah was handed the captaincy by the selectors despite not having featured in the team since the turn of the year. Wasim Akram, the former seam bowler and captain, was one of those surprised by the decision. "I do not agree with what they [former cricketers] are saying, doubting my abilities as a captain, and saying I am not capable of delivering," Misbah told reporters in Lahore. "I know the task assigned to me is not easy. However, underestimating me as a captain and batsman is not fair as one always learns with time and improves."
Misbah, however, said he had spent time away from the team training and preparing for his comeback. "I did not give up. I used to train to keep myself in prime form," he said. "And I was engaged in cricket because I was confident that I can make a comeback, which eventually happened." Pakistan had problems on the field in England; their batsmen struggled in bowler-friendly conditions and they were twice bowled for under 100 in four Tests and rarely made it past 200. Misbah, however, was confident of a better showing in friendlier conditions in the UAE.
"I think it's a bit unfair to judge the batsmen solely on the tour of England, as batting appeared to be very difficult," Misbah told PakPassion.net. "The batsmen at my disposal are much better than their statistics in England suggest. The conditions in the UAE will be more akin to what the Pakistani batsmen are used to seeing, and I am confident that the batting line-up will deliver against South Africa."
He added: "Our strength in the spin bowling department could be the key in the UAE. We have three spinners in the squad and all are different styles of spinners, so the variety is there. There should be turn and bounce on offer, and it's up to them to make the most of those conditions." Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has asked Shahid Afridi, the one-day captain, to avoid making critical comments on selection issues after he told the Express television channel he had not been given two or three players he wanted for a forthcoming series against South Africa.
A PCB spokesman said a letter had been sent to Afridi asking him to refrain from making controversial comments. "Yes, I wanted two or three players in the side and I didn't get them and I will speak to the chairman of the board on some other issues as well," Afridi told the channel. * Agencies