x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Misbah hails Shafiq’s ‘master innings’ for Pakistan

Captain impressed with the growing temperament and maturity of the middle-order bat.

Pakistan’s Asad Shafiq, right, is congratulated by his captain Misbah-ul-Haq on his reaching the century milestone. Hassan Ammar / AP Photo
Pakistan’s Asad Shafiq, right, is congratulated by his captain Misbah-ul-Haq on his reaching the century milestone. Hassan Ammar / AP Photo

DUBAI // Asad Shafiq’s “master innings” of 130 yesterday went to prove the future of Pakistan’s batting is not as bleak as some fear.

That is the view of Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, who shared a 197 run alliance with a player 12 years his junior.

When they were together defending Pakistan’s fifth wicket, faint hopes glimmered that a great escape might be possible.

Their resistance was broken when Misbah surrendered in inexplicably limp fashion, though.

The captain had seen off 217 deliveries from the world’s leading bowlers, before aiming an ungainly swipe at the part-time spinner Dean Elgar.

He edged to slip, and as he perished, so did Pakistan’s chances of saving the game.

At least Shafiq continued to rail against the inevitable, which was the most glowing positive from this defeat, according to Misbah.

“Everybody knows he is capable of that,” Misbah said of his diminutive partner.

“He got a really good hundred in South Africa. He was short of confidence coming into this series but he showed character, played very well in the first Test match, and this innings was special.

“The pitch wasn’t really easy and the South African bowlers were reverse swinging the ball.

“He played a master innings and it was really good for the future of the team.”

Misbah believes Shafiq can lead the way once the two veterans of the batting line-up, Younis Khan and himself, finally give in to the ageing process.

“He is a developing player who is starting to understand the demands of Test and international cricket,” Misbah said.

“In the coming years we might not have me or Younis Khan in the batting line up. He has the talent and temperament to play long innings.”

Shafiq’s second innings marathon was the sort of exceptional effort that proves the rule of Pakistan’s batting. One innings they are sublime, the next ridiculous.

It was their scarcely fathomable first innings of 99 all out which brought about their defeat here.

The answer to the age old problem of their inconsistency remains unclear, according to their captain. “That session really hurt us,” Misbah said. “We don’t want this sort of thing in future, where we get out in one session.

“We need to think about that. We need more character, more concentration, more attitude. Ups and downs and performances like that can really hurt the team.”


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Audio: Misbah on Shafiq

Also, Misbah defends his openers Mansoor and Masood