ABU DHABI: Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq is hoping his team can build on its recent good performances while Sri Lanka are looking to end their drought when the two sides meet here in the first Test from tomorrow.
Misbah took over as Test captain last year and has since batted superbly to help Pakistan draw series against South Africa and the West Indies, as well as lifting his team to away wins over New Zealand and Zimbabwe. The 37-year-old hopes to carry on the good work against Sri Lanka.
“The team morale is high,” said Misbah. “Cricket is a team game and since everyone knows their role we’ve been consistent in Tests and building on.”
Since taking over as captain Misbah has scored 704 runs in eight Tests at 78.22 and will be Pakistan’s mainstay against the Sri Lankan spin duo of Rangana Herath and Suraj Randiv – as they try to overcome the loss of legendary off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.
Sri Lanka have not won a Test since Muralitharan bade farewell to Test cricket after taking a world-record 800 wickets.
However, captain Tillekaratne Dilshan wants his bowlers to improve their show against Pakistan.
“We have a young bowling unit and I think they’re getting experienced, so I hope they’re now ready to establish themselves in the team,” said Dilshan. “Over the past 20 years we’ve depended on Muralitharan for our success.
“We still haven’t found anyone who can do it as consistently as him. The future of our success lies with our fast-bowlers. In the spin department only Herath has proved himself."
Pakistan bid to improve ranking
Meanwhile, Pakistan will be aiming to make an upward movement in the International Cricket Council rankings during the series. A 2-0 win will see Pakistan, currently ranked sixth with 94 ratings points, move to fifth with 100 points and relegate Sri Lanka to 97. In case of a 3-0 win, they move to fifth and increase their points to 102 points.
However, a 1-0 win will see Pakistan stay sixth but narrow the gap with Sri Lanka to just one point.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2011.