Pakistan’s head coach Misbah ul Haq has demanded world cricket to actively support Pakistan as it takes another step towards the revival of complete international cricket at home with Sri Lanka ODI and T20I series which will be played in Karachi and Lahore.
Misbah told media in Karachi ahead of the series that it is important for world cricket to realise that issues like security in Pakistan have improved and the country needs more series at home, on a regular basis.
“I think be it Pakistan, or any other country that has faced similar situation, we need to make sure cricket keeps going. We need to do more, the world cricket needs to do more to make sure that we play series here on regular basis and Cricket is not affected,” Misbah said. “The way government has been working and security agencies and PCB are working, we need world’s support to have cricket here” the former captain and now the head-coach of Pakistan team said.
Sri Lanka becomes the first major team to play full ODI series in Pakistan since 2009, although the country had hosted Zimbabwe for three ODIs in 2015. The arrival of Sri Lankan team holds significance for Pakistan, since it shows the efforts made to bring back top level cricket home.
“We understand that this wasn’t an easy decision,” said Misbah ul Haq referring to the fact that some well-known cricketers will not be seen in action during the series. “But, it is encouraging sign to see Sri Lanka coming here for series. World must support countries, not only for Pakistan, but also for others to keep cricket going,” he added.
Misbah agreed that a full strength team would have made it more exciting but those who have come can’t be underestimated and Pakistan expects a good white-ball series against the Sri Lanka in next two weeks. He argued that it has been ten years to the incident of Sri Lanka team’s bus being shot at by terrorists in Lahore and things have improved a lot in Pakistan since then.
“It is also important for youngsters to play in front of home crowd and home ground. It is key for them to play in front of packed stadium. You can’t attract crowd at neutral venue,” he said. “When you’re playing at home ground, you’re also different at emotional level. It will be an important moment for all the players,” Misbah highlighted while adding that Pakistani grounds can’t be deprived of live action anymore.
He added that the series is very special moment for him as well as he was among players who played the last ODI at Karachi’s national stadium, against the same opponent. And now, the center is hosting an ODI again, against the same team with Misbah in a different role. He also spoke about his aims as head coach and chief selector of Pakistan Cricket team and emphasized that his focus is to prepare players for the longer format of the game.
“It is sad to see players not keen on continuing red-ball cricket, as it is the version of cricket where your performances will be remembered for long,” he said when asked about Amir and Wahab’s decision to quit Test cricket. “We need to have players who can play for longer format, we need to have wrist spinners for the format as well. Players of four overs or ten overs can’t be as good in Test cricket so we need to have players who can play longer format of game.”
He hoped that the new domestic setup with better pitches will help Pakistan find good talent for Test Cricket. When asked about some performers being ignored from selection, Misbah said that “scoring centuries isn’t the only requirement and a player needs to tick various boxes to become eligible for international cricket.”
The head coach added that the way cricket has quantified these days, it is important for players to keep themselves fit. “South Asian teams were not known for good fitness in past, but now see how India has improved its standards and that’s why they stand out as better than other Asian teams.”
He also put his weight behind Sarfaraz Ahmed and hoped that the wicket-keeper batsman will do good in upcoming series. “He has worked hard and I am sure it will help him a lot in the series. It is important for Sarfaraz to perform if he wants to be successful as a captain because if a captain is struggling with his own form then he will also struggle in making decisions,” Misbah said.
“And to perform with bat, it is important for Sarfaraz to take chance,” he said while indicating that the wicket-keeper batsman will bat at up in the order in the series against Sri Lanka.
Talking about Pakistan’s World Test Championship matches against Australia, the head-coach and chief selector added that Pakistan’s real worry down under is bowling, and not batting as we have always talked about. “Last time, we did well with bat and scored over 400 as well, but there was only one occasion when we could bowl them out in an innings and that’s where we struggled. We need bowlers who can get 20 wickets in a test if we want to win test matches in Australia,” the head coach identified.