We have to take it game by game: Misbah-ul Haq
The absence of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel gives us psychological advantage, says Pakistan captain.
Everyone in your squad fit for today’s game, Misbah?
Yeah, everybody’s fit.
And after the game against the West Indies, are you thinking of any changes to your batting line-up, in particular given that it was the bowlers almost winning you the game?
We haven’t yet decided, but I think after just having a look at the pitch, and today we’re fit and let’s see what we’re going to do.
How is it that Pakistan continually produces so many good, quality fast bowlers in particular?
Something you can say that maybe genetically people are a bit stronger, maybe the conditions because it’s not conducive for seam bowling there. It’s really hard work there in Pakistan. If you want to be a fast bowler, you really need to be hard working, you need a bit of pace there. So maybe that helps people to just bowl a bit quicker than other parts of the world.
You are struggling a wee bit in producing batsmen at the moment? Any thoughts on why that might be?
That might be the same, easy batting conditions there, so whenever they come to challenging batting conditions, they’re not used to that like others also and sub continent. I think that might be the case.
Are you able to say what it’s like captaining Pakistan in terms of the expectations and the criticisms and all the baggage that comes with captaining Pakistan?
It goes on like that, especially if you are an Asian player. In our country it’s like that. Just when you do well, it’s really something everybody praises, and you’re a star on one day. There are high praises, but there are also high criticisms when you don’t do well.
As a player, I think you need to just understand this and just try to go there and put a better show in every game you play and don’t just get it on your minds. Because one day these people who are really after you and the next day you could be really out of it.
Are you able to say how close you came to walking away from the captaincy and International Cricket even earlier this year?
Is it fair to say you were close to walking away from international cricket this year? There was talk of you joining Worcestershire, for example?
You might be saying that for the County I should have just left this Pakistan?
Yeah, was that the temptation?
Oh, actually, that was something that we might we normally had some of unscheduled tours in between, so that was the case that they (Worcestershire) were just asking me to play the whole season and just leave those unscheduled tours. So, my priority is to play for Pakistan, whichever is international game. I just want to play more and more international cricket because I know that I haven’t left much of the cricket, but whatever comes, I just want to play.
You’re 39 now, have you thought about how much longer you can play?
I haven’t thought about that, but I think I know everybody else knows that it’s not much left. Whatever comes, I just want to enjoy that and play well for Pakistan.
Pakistan has played South Africa recently a lot. So who has the advantage going up again, and does it help that you’ve played a lot against them recently?
I think both the teams know each other very well. The strategy of the players, everybody is aware of that, and I think we did well in ODIs especially in South Africa. So, the players are in good confidence against them. I think that will be a good contest if we just play up to our potential, and we have a good chance.
One of the concerns so far of the team is the rest of the batting apart from you have not been amongst the runs and often you are left with doing a resurrection job in the middle?
This is a trend of passing teams over the years. I think before it was Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf. So, as a senior player, you have to take the responsibility, but it’s really good if some of the other guys come to the party and do their job. It really makes it easier for the team if all of the others are contributing. Especially at the top it’s really important for these conditions and the teams like South Africa with good bowling attack, especially fast bowling. It really matters how your top bowler goes.
Form is good, especially with the top bowlers, I think it’s the case of applying yourself and getting to know your game plan and how to execute that.
Obviously when you play South Africa there is always talk about the fast bowlers against them, but South Africa have adopted a very attacking strategy. They’re wanting to pitch the ball short. Is that something you expect, and how do you plan to cope with it?
I think when we played South Africa in the T20 and ODIs, we handled that well. And in the last game we played against them that was also at The Oval. They really got some good bounce. I think top players played well. This really gives them a lot of confidence. I think this is one thing that they really believe that they can do it. It’s a matter of just applying yourself, so they should not be worried about that. I think they can do it, and it’s just applying yourself.
Tomorrow is a do or die match for you. So how confident are you with this kind of situation will bring the best out of your boys?
It’s not a new story for us. In South Africa, we were in a similar situation like that in the ODI series, when we had to win ther fourth ODI and our team did exceptionally well with that. In ICC tournaments, most of the time we are in these sorts of situations. The best thing you can do is to take it game by game, and tomorrow is a game and you just need to win that. Go there, do your best, and I think when you go there and try to do your best, the results are in your favor most of the time.
Steyn and Morkel probably will not be playing tomorrow. Is that a good thing for Pakistan?
Obviously, when main players of the opponent’s team are missing, it will give you a psychological advantage. But at the same time, we are aware of the fact that they are a good team. They won a game against us when both of Steyn and Morkel weren’t playing in South Africa. So, they are a quality side, and at the moment their strength is their batting. So we just can’t relax. I think we need to really play well, really give a hundred percent, and then we have a good chance.
Courtesy: ICC Champions Trophy 2013