Misbah warns Pakistan not to be ‘lazy’ against NZ
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq is warning his players not to be “lazy” against New Zealand in the first test starting Sunday.
Misbah wants Pakistan to show the same determination which earned a 2-0 series victory against Australia on the slow wickets of the United Arab Emirates.
“We just don’t want to be reluctant and lazy,” Misbah said Saturday. “We really want to be focused and go with the same sort of intent ... just do our basics right and to try and play like we did against Australia.”
Pakistan routed Michael Clarke’s team 2-0 for its first test series victory over Australia in 20 years with convincing victories at Dubai and Abu Dhabi, after losing the one-day series 3-0. Pakistan won the second test by a massive 356 runs.
Misbah led from the front with centuries in each innings of the second test that included test cricket’s fastest 50 before he equaled Viv Richards’ world record 56-ball century.
Experienced batsman Younis Khan also scored prolifically with three successive centuries while Azhar Ali smashed hundreds in each innings at Abu Dhabi.
Despite being seventh in the test rankings, New Zealand has won three of its previous four test series. It drew against Bangladesh last year before twice beating the West Indies. It also beat India 1-0 earlier this year.
“New Zealand is a kind of team which could really surprise you,” Misbah said. “They’ve got good spinners and (fast) bowlers who can bowl good reverse swing.”
Pakistan is unlikely to make big changes for the three-test series.
“In test cricket we just don’t want to experiment much, we just want to keep the same kind of unit,” Misbah said.
In the absence of suspended offspinner Saeed Ajmal, inexperienced spinners Zulfiqar Babar and Yasir Shah got the lion’s share of 26 wickets between them against Australia on turning wickets.
Misbah was especially impressed with newcomer legspinner Shah’s haul of 12 wickets.
“When a youngster like him (Shah) just comes and performs against a top side in the world, that shows he has got really good temperament,” Misbah said.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum is aware the Black Caps haven’t won a test series against Pakistan since a 2-0 victory in 1985.
“We’ll do our absolute best to rectify that statistic,” McCullum said. “It may not pan out, we may get beaten over here, but I’m pretty sure that we’ll put up a very good performance.”
However, McCullum expects a tough test on the slow wickets of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
“We are under no illusion how hard this series is going to be, but we also got some pretty big hopes to achieve something special,” McCullum said.
McCullum said he hoped having three left-handed batsmen in the top six batting lineup — Tom Latham, Corey Anderson and James Neesham — could disturb Pakistan’s bowlers.
“We’ve some left and right hand combination which probably Australia didn’t have ... hopefully that’s one of the factors that can help us combat their lineup,” McCullum said.
The fit-again Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor form the nucleus of New Zealand’s middle-order with Tim Southee and Trent Boult sharing the new ball.
New Zealand’s India-born legspinner Ish Sodhi, who took five wickets in the drawn warm-up match against Pakistan A, will be challenging the strong Pakistan batting lineup with offspinner Mark Craig.