x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Pakistan captain Misbah calls for coach to fix batting woes

Current squad bristle at criticism of recent struggles from former players

The Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, says his side have struggled with their top-order batting for two or three years and has asked for a batting coach to help fix those persistent problems. Themba Hadebe / AP Photo
The Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, says his side have struggled with their top-order batting for two or three years and has asked for a batting coach to help fix those persistent problems. Themba Hadebe / AP Photo

ISLAMABAD // Test and one-day captain Misbah-ul-Haq says Pakistan need a batting coach to solve the team’s top-order batting problems in international matches.

Misbah returned home on Monday after leading Pakistan to its first victory in a one-day series against South Africa. Pakistan also drew the Twenty20 series 1-1.

“We have to think a lot about our batting, and [a batting] coach could be beneficial,” Misbah said. “Batting is a constant problem for us for the last two-three years, and we have to seriously start thinking about it.”

Despite the struggles of top-order batsmen against South Africa, rookie all-rounders Bilawal Bhatti and Anwar Ali emerged as potential future stars in the series.

Both Bhatti and Ali shared a productive half-century stand in Pakistan’s 23-run win in first one-dayer at Cape Town after South Africa reduced the visitors to 131-7.

Bhatti smashed three fours in fast bowler Dale Steyn’s one over in Pakistan’s narrow one-run win in the second ODI at Port Elizabeth, where opening batsman Ahmad Shehzad also scored a century.

But Shehzad was out for a duck in the third ODI at Centurion and, despite Misbah’s unbeaten 79, Pakistan was dismissed for 179 and lost the match by four wickets.

“Our batting averages are nowhere and there’s no consistency,” Misbah said. “After scoring in one match, we flop in three-four innings, so I think we have to work hard on this thing.”

After two days of rest at home, Pakistan will leave for the UAE on Thursday to play three Tests, five ODIs and two T20 matches against Sri Lanka.

Pakistan will also play a T20 against Afghanistan at Sharjah on Sunday before the tour kicks off against Sri Lanka with a T20 at Dubai on December 11.

Lanky left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Irfan was not named in Pakistan’s Twenty20 squad after he injured his hip muscle during Pakistan’s 4-1 loss in the one-day series against South Africa in the UAE last month. He also missed Pakistan’s tour of South Africa.

Irfan is yet to recover from the injury and is also likely to miss the ODI series against Sri Lanka.

“Without Irfan, we were thinking that it will be difficult for us [in South Africa], but the way Bilawal Bhatti performed, we didn’t feel Irfan’s absence,” Misbah said.

“The way youngsters have performed, our hopes are high from them in future.”

Misbah said that after playing in South Africa, where there is plenty of bounce on the wickets, it will benefit his team to play against Sri Lanka in the UAE. “No doubt, Sri Lanka is a very strong team and conditions do suit them, too, but I think our team will play quite well after competing against South Africa in tough conditions,” Misbah said.

Former Pakistan cricketers like Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Yousuf and Sikander Bakht have criticised Pakistan after their loss to South Africa in the Emirates, but Misbah said the criticism was unfair.

“There was a lot of hue and cry to change the team, change the system. We need patience,” he said.

“If the South Africans have lost their first series against an Asian team after 20 years, does that mean they should change their team? We should not start blasting players after losing one series and stop backing them. This team needs backing, it will develop slowly and start producing good results.”

In Karachi, Pakistan’s enigmatic all-rounder Shahid Afridi said former Test cricketers should start backing players in tough times instead of criticising them when they were going through bad form.

“They are Heckle and Jeckle and forget that during their playing days they did also struggle,” Afridi said. “They should back the team when it’s struggling, instead of blasting the players on television.”

sports@thenational.ae

Pakistan v Sri Lanka

Twenty20s

First T20, December 11, Dubai

Second T20, December 13, Dubai

One-day internationals First ODI, December 18, Sharjah

Second ODI, December 20, Dubai

Third ODI, December 22, Sharjah

Fourth ODI, December 25, Abu Dhabi

Fifth ODI, December 27, Abu Dhabi

Tests

First Test, December 31-January 4, Dubai

Second Test, January 8-12, Abu Dhabi

Third Test, January 16-20, Sharjah