Misbah hailed for his aggression in Pakistan win
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Captain Misbah-ul-Haq was hailed for his aggression and ambition Monday after leading Pakistan to its first test series win against Australia for 20 years.
Pakistan won the second test by its best ever margin of 356 runs to take the series 2-0 with Misbah hitting a record fastest test 50 on his way to a record-equaling century.
“Misbah showed aggression, played with lots of heart and we demolished Australia,” ex-test fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar told Geo Television.
Misbah confounded his critics as he equaled former West Indies captain Viv Richards record set in 1986.
“All of a sudden Misbah changed his attitude, scored a century off 56 balls and you can see the results,” Akhtar said.
“He came out of his comfort zone and proved that he can play with lots of aggression.”
Australia had begun a month long tour to the United Arab Emirates with victory in a one-off Twenty20 match and then whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 in a one-day series.
But the return of Younis Khan, who criticized selectors for leaving him out of the one-day series, changed the momentum in the five-day format.
Younis hit centuries in each innings of the first test and then recorded a double century in the second to total 468 runs in four innings.
“Whosoever is in good form should represent Pakistan and if Younis is in good form he should be included in one-dayers too,” Akhtar said.
“Younis was put under lot of pressure before the test series, but it shows that that if we put pressure on our players they will definitely perform. Full credit goes to the management,” he added.
Misbah and Azhar Ali also scored centuries in each innings of the second test as Pakistan scored heavily against a listless Australian bowling attack.
While Pakistan’s batsmen plundered record runs, inexperienced spinners Zulfiqar Babar and Yasir Shah exposed Australia’s vulnerability against slow bowlers.
They shared 26 wickets between them, Babar claiming 14 and Shah in his first test series taking 12. This more than covered for the absence of the suspended Saeed Ajmal.
“It’s sad that Saeed Ajmal couldn’t play, but its heartening to see that we’ve now got Yasir and Babar,” said Akhtar.
Another former test fast bowler Sikander Bakht pointed out that Australia’s batsmen were not used to playing against spinners on slow wickets.
He said the introduction of Muttiah Muralitharan, the great Sri Lankan bowler, as spin coach had failed.
“They are not used to playing against spinners,” he said. “They brought in Muralitharan as their spin coach, but even he couldn’t do anything,” Bakht said.
Bakht also praised Misbah’s change of attitude in enabling Pakistan to win.
“You can call it a miracle, or a complete U-turn in Pakistan’s performance, but Misbah has certainly changed,” said Bakht.
Former captain and wicketkeeper Rashid Latif also praised Misbah, Younis and the two spinners for Pakistan’s success.
“Younis Khan is the main man for this success while Misbah, Azhar, Ahmed and Sarfraz proved their mettle,” he said.
“Babar is the best left-armer Pakistan has produced, but it’s unfortunate that he didn’t get many chances in the five years.”
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan praised Misbah for a brilliant team effort.
“Pakistan’s batting throughout was a revelation with Younis Khan and yourself in the forefront,” he said. “Our inexperienced bowling also gave an above par display,” Khan said.
The victory lifted Pakistan above England to third in the world test rankings, behind South Africa and Australia, for the first time in seven years.