Focus is on improving, not series sweep: Misbah

Taking a 2-0 sweep of the test series not on captain Misbahul Haq's mind as team makes prepares for second test.

Reuters January 14, 2011

WELLINGTON: Taking a 2-0 sweep of the test series against New Zealand was not on the mind of Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq as his side made their final preparations for the second test at the Basin Reserve on Friday.

The tourists won the first test in Hamilton by 10 wickets.

The second test begins on Saturday with the sides then embarking on a six match one-day series as they complete their preparations for the World Cup that starts on Feb. 19.

Misbah, however, said they had not even discussed a series victory let alone a sweep, instead preferring to concentrate on improving from their performance at Seddon Park.

"Actually we are just determined to perform well and want to improve our performance and then we will see what the result is," Misbah told reporters as he zipped up his tracksuit to keep warm in the lengthening shadows of the venue's main grandstand.

"All we want is to perform at 100 per cent and then let's see.

"Confidence is the key in cricket, especially if you have good results then you tend to perform well and when you perform well, your confidence level is up.

"It's really good for us that our team's confidence level is up."

Misbah also said he expected New Zealand to perform better than they had in Hamilton, where the lifeless pitch offered little to the bowlers, but frustrated New Zealand's batsmen enough for them to make mistakes.

'NZ batsmen need to back up bowlers'

New Zealand captain Vettori echoed coach John Wright and asked his batsmen to back up their bowlers if the home side have any chance of squaring the series against Pakistan when the second test begins at the Basin Reserve on Saturday.

Wright, who was appointed to the job before the series began, said he was expecting his top six to bat longer in order to help set up competitive totals that his bowlers could then defend.

"I think the words that Wrighty has said have been great, he's hit the nail on the head on a number of occasions," Verttori told reporters in brilliant sunshine in Wellington on Friday.

"We understand it was a poor performance but if we get too down in the dumps then we're not going to rectify it here.

"We obviously didn't score enough runs in the last test but I thought the bowling unit did a good job.

"Tim in particular, I think I stated in the press conference after the test match that I think it's the best test match he has had and he has backed it up."

Green wicket

The Basin Reserve wicket was also quite green on Friday and expected to have more bounce and pace than Seddon Park.

"They're still a good side in New Zealand and can give you a tough time at any time," Misbah said of Daniel Vettori's team.

"It's not easy to beat them. It'll take really good, determined cricket from us for us to do that job here because these conditions suits them more.

"It's totally different from Hamilton and we have to just get ready for that and get used to the pace and bounce of this wicket."

New Zealand captain Vettori echoed Misbah's comments about the pitch, but the final make-up of his team, with all rounder James Franklin expected to come into the side, would determine whether he would bat or field first if he won the toss.

"Coming to the Basin you think there's a chance early on to take some wickets but I think in the past the team that has been able to put a decent score on the board has actually had more success with the ball on days two and three," Vettori said.

"It's about trying to balance that up but I think the final weighting of the team will have a huge influence on whether we bat or bowl.

"I think it will be another belter here, in that it will have a bit of pace and there will be something in it for everyone.

"Guys who are prepared to apply themselves with the ball and the bat will get something out of it."


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