x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Misbah hopes Pakistan can make most of venue advantage in UAE

Misbah-ul-Haq says conditions suitable for his team more than their top-ranked rivals South Africa.

The Pakistan team practises at the Zayed Cricket Stadium under supervision of Dav Whatmore, centre. Antonie Robertson / The National
The Pakistan team practises at the Zayed Cricket Stadium under supervision of Dav Whatmore, centre. Antonie Robertson / The National

ABU DHABI // Misbah-ul-Haq will call on the memory of Pakistan’s past successes in the UAE when they meet South Africa in a two-Test series next week.

A 1-0 Test triumph over Sri Lanka in late 2011 was then followed up with a 3-0 whitewash of England in January and February last year and Misbah was confident of extending that winning sequence.

“We have a really good record in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. That’s a plus for us,” the Pakistan captain said after their first training session in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

“Most of our players have had a good series against Sri Lanka and England here in the UAE and they have good memories.

“This is something positive we can take forward and focus and give our 100 per cent and play real good cricket.

“We are looking forward to result-orientated pitches because we are not here to play for a draw.

“We really want to win the matches and these are the instructions to the ground staff. We are not going to disclose our plans. Let’s see when the match starts.”

The Proteas arrive in the UAE as the No 1-ranked Test side but Pakistan boast a formidable record at their adopted home.

“South Africa is the No 1 Test side but in the UAE it would be a different story for them altogether,” said Misbah.

“It is different weather, different conditions and different ballgame for them. You can say the conditions are more suitable for the Pakistan team and let’s hope we get something out of it and play some good hard cricket.”

Pakistan play the UAE in a two-day practice match at the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council Nursery Oval starting today.

The team’s main problem in recent times has been the lack of a solid start prompting several changes in the batting order.

“We had a few practice games and some of the guys got some runs, which was good for their confidence. Khurram Manzoor is in good touch, so let’s see how it works out for us,” said Misbah.

Pakistan suffered a 3-0 drubbing in the corresponding Test series earlier this year in South Africa. Misbah, though, is looking to his spinners, in particular Saeed Ajmal, to cause the opposition problems.

“It was a different story when we played in South Africa where most of the wickets had around 10mm to 15mm grass. They will definitely not get that here,” he said.

“Apart from him [Ajmal], Abdur Rehman and the pacer Junaid Khan have good track records in the in the UAE.

“I think all out bowlers have good records here. We are really positive about that these guys have some tricks and can really trouble the South African batsmen.”

Pakistan’s preparation coming into this series has been far from ideal. As well as the whitewash in South Africa, a defeat to minnows Zimbabwe last month allowed the hosts to level the Two-match series 1-1, but Dav Whatmore, the Pakistan coach, said his side would be a different animal altogether in the Emirates.

“To me, there were three things that were different when we played last time in South Africa,” he said.

“One is the conditions ... The other thing is their preparation. From where I was coming from, we had a really good preparation for limited-overs cricket in South Africa.

“This time it’s different. We may not have had the best of results in Zimbabwe but certainly we come in to this series playing enough red-ball cricket. That’s a good difference for me.”