Pakistan determined to make mark in Sri Lanka

National team departs for Test series starting August 6.


Upon Pakistan’s departure to Sri Lanka for its first Test in six months, captain Misbahul Haq said he was confident the team would be ready to immediately set itself up for battling through five-day cricket, with the first Test beginning August 6.

The men in green were involved in the Asia Cup and World Twenty20 earlier this year, but have not played competitive cricket as a unit since then; they last took part in a Test back in January. Thus, Pakistan cricket will be returning to the spotlight after a gap of almost four months.

“We’ll try to adjust to the conditions in the three days prior to the series kicking off so that we are up to the mark when we step into the first Test,” said Misbah while speaking to media on Saturday.

The national team management and selectors had setup a month-long gruelling camp to work on the fitness of the players in June, while they were also made to spend time together towards the end of July to practice match scenarios.

“We’ve had a long break but the advantage of it was that we worked on our fitness and technical issues; though on a more downbeat note, we’ve remained away from Test cricket for a while now and it takes time to get back in the groove.”

Pakistan and Sri Lanka will compete in a two-Test series for which Misbah has expressed great confidence— especially after a heroic run-chase against the same opponents in Sharjah (January).

“We scored 300 plus runs on the last day of the Test in Sharjah and the way Sarfraz Ahmed performed, it has boosted our self-belief because when a wicketkeeper chips in with important runs, the morale goes up,” he explained.

Reflecting on Pakistan’s bowling, Misbah said that Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan will have an added advantage as both have been distressing their opponents in the past. The duo will also have the support of Mohammad Talha and Abdur Rehman.

Despite the four-month layoff, the skipper added, “We have a very good chance and it’s a big motivation for us to become top Test team. We will do our best to grab this opportunity to reach the top.”

Tough decisions will be taken: Waqar

Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis looked assured before the team’s departure and sounded out a warning that he would not hesitate to make tough decision to improve the team’s functionality.

“If I have to make tough decisions at any point, then I’ll do so for the betterment of Pakistan cricket,” said Waqar, while stressing that every series before the World Cup is important.

The Pakistan Test team includes Misbah, Ahmed Shehzad, Khurram Manzoor, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Younus Khan, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Mohammad Talha, Junaid Khan, Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2014.

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