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December 12, 2011
Pakistan expectedly wrapped up the first Test against Bangladesh on the fourth day, giving them their fifth win in their previous nine Tests - this one by an innings-and-184-runs. That run of form, encompassing the last 12 months, includes series wins over New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.
One of the factors in Pakistan's consistent run has been the captaincy of Misbah-ul-Haq, who took over in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal in 2010. Misbah, however, chose to give his team the credit after their latest triumph.
"I think if the team is doing well then credit goes to everyone, which also includes the captain," Misbah said. "But the main thing is players are important in the team. If they are not performing, the captain can't do anything. For which I think the credit goes to every player. They are putting in their efforts and fulfilling their responsibilities. That's why the team is winning."
Misbah put his team's determination to win matches down to their reaction to the spot-fixing scandal which could have easily thrown them into disarray. "I think the way we are performing, you can say what happened with Pakistan cricket, the boys have come out really strong and all wanted to do well. It's the reason behind that. The day controversies hit the team, I think the boys had it set in their mind that they will prove that they are a good cricket team and good players."
While Pakistan's recent string of results have naturally infused the side with confidence, Misbah said the spark came from their series against South Africa last year, where Pakistan fought to draw both Tests. "The confidence comes from the performances. When you are performing as a team game by game and you are performing well, the confidence is building. This is really helping us as a team. The series against South Africa in October last year was a big test for us. We played really strong against them in the two Test matches and at that time South Africa was one of the best Test sides.
"After that the team got the confidence as every player performed in that series which kept on building in every match after that."
Misbah felt that Bangladesh were under huge pressure in Chittagong as they collapsed for 135 in the first innings. Though they made a better fist of it in the second to reach 275, it was mostly a struggle. "In the first innings they got out easily and once you get out easily on a flat track I think it's difficult to make the comeback. That helped us. They lacked in confidence. A batsmen is helped if he is consistently scoring runs. If you are not scoring runs, it becomes difficult to stand strong as a batsman."
Pakistan's decision to field was vindicated by the result and Misbah said that it was a strategy they had been employing for some time now. "We managed to exploit the wicket with our bowlers in the first two sessions of the first day. For the last two years we have been doing this and so far we have been able to take good advantage of it. Once we have the target in our mind, the bowlers and the batsmen together performed really well. So if we ever find even a little advantage for the bowlers, we choose to bowl first."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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