Pakistan’s 2-0 series victory over Bangladesh at home – their first series win in T20Is in more than a year – has given them some “breathing space,” according to head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq.
“Obviously you play for the win and for it, you keep on trying all the time,” Misbah said. “This victory was important for us to get breathing space and now you obviously have to see where you are lacking and which area you can strengthen yourself. Otherwise being under pressure, you are always running after many things and sometimes it’s really hard to catch up. So, it’s good for me, for the team, for all youngsters that we are relaxed and got a little confidence-booster. Now we can focus better going forward.”
Under Misbah, Pakistan had suffered a 3-0 whitewash against a second-string Sri Lanka side at home and then they lost 2-0 in Australia, the scene of the T20 World Cup later this year. However, upon returning home, Pakistan thumped Bangladesh 2-0 to retain their No.1 ranking in the shortest format, after the third T20I had been washed out.
Despite losing the toss in both completed games, Pakistan thrived and Misbah credited his bowlers for the success. In the first T20I, they restricted Bangladesh to 141 for 5 and then in the second, they kept them to an even lower total – 136 for 6.
“The most important thing for us was to win,” Misbah said. “Because when you lose back-to-back series and even before we had a poor run losing T20 games, so it was really important for our confidence to win. Obviously, credit should be given to our bowling – the way our young bowlers never gave Bangladesh a chance to sneak in to get into a position to pose any threat.
“So, overall it’s a good performance and for Pakistan cricket it’s good. For World Cup, we still have plenty of time – the PSL and then more international games, so we will have more challenges and difficult situations coming up to get ourselves prepared.”
Since Misbah has taken over as coach-cum-selector, Pakistan’s squad has seen plenty of chopping and changing. After he had included a number of fresh faces for the Australia tour, Misbah fell back on the experience of the 39-year old Mohammad Hafeez and 37-year old Shoaib Malik for the home series against Bangladesh. The two seniors vindicated their returns with match-winning half-centuries.
“Whenever both seniors weren’t there in the team… questions were asked of me,” Misbah said.”I never really talked about ending someone’s career or why we are not considering them. But, sometimes you do look around and check your resources and do experiment to see where you stand.
“So, after two series we have realised that we cannot go to all out with youngsters and we need experience. So, obviously Babar [Azam] did back them and, as expected, their experience did work for us. So, the doors are never shut. So, if any player who is fit, performing and required, he should definitely be considered. If their form is helping your team, then I don’t see any problem in picking them.”