Sri Lanka’s miserable form in Test matches is not to be considered a plus point, said Pakistan interim coach Mohsin Khan at the conclusion of the training camp in Lahore.
Sri Lanka have been unable to clinch a series in cricket’s longest format since their 2-0 victory over New Zealand in August 2009 and have also not won a Test after handing out a 10-wicket drubbing to India in July last year.
However, Mohsin said Pakistan will be wary of the threat Sri Lanka carry ahead of the Test series that starts on October 18 in the UAE.
“We have a tough challenge ahead of us,” Mohsin told The Express Tribune after the camp ended. “Sri Lanka are dangerous as they’ll give it their all to make a comeback in Tests.
“One can’t take a major Test side lightly on basis of its recent performances.”
Sri Lanka have not enjoyed a good run in Tests and went down 1-0 to both England and Australia in this year’s series. Critics say the retirement of Test cricket’s leading wicket-taker Muttiah Muralitharan has considerably weakened the team.
On the other hand, Pakistan have enjoyed a better run in the longer version after their loss against England last year. The team managed to draw a series against South Africa and the West Indies while emerging victorious against hosts New Zealand and Zimbabwe.
But Mohsin said the absence of Muralitharan was not an advantage.
“Pakistan and Sri Lanka have a lot of talent and one should be ready to face the music.
“We’re expecting a tough battle. I won’t make tall claims but I’ll say that our players are ready,” added Mohsin.
Meanwhile, Misbahul Haq has dismissed the notion that he was a defensive captain. “I’ve evolved as a player and captain in the last year,” Misbah told reporters. “I’m learning every day. But as captain, my job is to ensure we don’t perform badly and if we’re in a position to win, we should go for the kill.”
The batsman agreed with Mohsin, saying the retirement of Muralitharan and fast-bowler Lasith Malinga does not give his team an upper hand.
“No doubt Sri Lanka’s bowling has been weakened but they remain a formidable side and it would be foolish on our part to underestimate them.”
‘Team unperturbed with PCB shake-up’
Meanwhile, Mohsin added the team members were not disturbed by the developments in the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) management.
The board will see a new chairman replacing Ijaz Butt, who completed his tenure last week.
“Our responsibility is to make sure the team performs. The positive sign is that all the players are upbeat and are focusing on the series.”
Following the Test series, Pakistan play five One-Day Internationals and a one-off Twenty20 to conclude the tour.
“We’re expecting a tough battle. I won’t make tall claims but I’ll say that our players are ready. Sri Lanka are dangerous as they’ll give it their all to make a comeback in Tests. One can’t take a major Test side lightly.”
“If you look at both sides they are evenly balanced, so it’s going to be a tough series. They may have struggled in recent Tests but they have world-class players. We are without some seniors but we still have a good combination.”
“Muralithran took 800 Test wickets, the most by any bowler in the world, so you know that with him he’s going to create something for you, even in tough situations. He’s a magician, and without him it’s a big hole to fill.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2011.