‘Time for new players to stand up’

Misbah wary of void left by seniors, warns team not to underestimate Zimbabwe.

Afp August 15, 2011


Pakistan cricket captain Misbahul Haq urged his team’s new talent to take advantage of the tour of Zimbabwe to rebuild the crisis-hit national side.

A new-look Pakistan play a two-day practice match in Bulawayo from August 28, then a Test at the same venue from September 1. They also play three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and two Twenty20s on the tour.

Misbah will lead Pakistan in all three formats of the game after Shahid Afridi retired when he was dumped as ODI captain two months ago. Misbah said the new players must take their chances.

‘Chance to shine’

“All the new players who have taken the place of the seniors have performed at domestic level and this tour of Zimbabwe will give them a chance to show their ability at an international level,” Misbah told a press conference.

Pakistan have surprisingly rested pacemen Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul, and dropped Tanvir Ahmed. The selectors recalled Sohail Tanvir and Sohail Khan, and included fast-bowlers Junaid Khan and uncapped Aizaz Cheema.

Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, Pakistan’s successful bowler in the West Indies on their last tour, is also rested in favour of uncapped leg-spinner Yasir Shah.

“After a long time a number of seniors have left together, so every team comes across such times and then replacements are found by trying out some new players who can play like those seniors,” said Misbah.

Senior batsman Mohammad Yousuf lost favour with the selectors, while wicket-keeper batsman Kamran Akmal, former captain Shoaib Malik and seasoned leg-spinner Danish Kaneria were left out over fixing suspicions.

Showing respect to the opponents

Meanwhile, Misbah denied Pakistan were not taking Zimbabwe seriously.

“We are not taking any team lightly. If we relax then we are in trouble and by giving chances to youngsters we are not experimenting because all these young players have come into the team on merit.”

Pakistan fly out to Zimbabwe on August 25.

On their return to Test cricket after five years, Zimbabwe beat Bangladesh in the only Test and are 2-0 ahead in the ongoing five-match ODI series.

After the tour of Zimbabwe, Pakistan play Sri Lanka in three Tests, five ODIs and one Twenty20 match in the United Arab Emirates in October and November.

Umar Gul

“I’ve increased my training and giving my best to regain the rhythm. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance against Sri Lanka and England. I feel I can serve the country for many years. Temporary setbacks come but one has to overcome them by positive thinking.”

Ahmed Shahzad

“It’s always difficult to make a comeback because you have to work twice as hard. I’m hopeful that I’ll get my place back after a good domestic season. I didn’t breach discipline. If that’s the case, I want to ask the PCB to tell me where I was wrong.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.