Misbah under pressure to finish tour on a high
The last 15 days have been quite difficult for Pakistan, who lost all their limited-over matches to Bangladesh, and in the process, their first ever series against them. The result was celebrated like a festival in Bangladesh, while in Pakistan, it made headlines as one of the country's most embarrassing sporting moments.
Pakistan are now in Khulna for the Test series, a different ball game with a different captain inMisbah-ul-Haq. Misbah's calm is much like the Khulna town, and in complete contrast to the to hustle and bustle of Dhaka, one of the world's most densely populated cities. With Misbah around, Pakistan's Test side has enjoyed stability and performed consistently over the past few years.
Misbah has been a regular rescuer for Pakistan since 2010, pulling them out of several difficult situations. On his retirement from ODI cricket, he said: "now I can relax," bearing the burden of batting for long stretches. In the past, he has had to revive Pakistan from scores like 18 for 3, 33 for 3, 15 for 3, 32 for 3, 32 for 2, and 48 for 3.
Much like the situation when he comes in to bat, Misbah has lots of repair and rebuilding work to do ahead of the Tests.
When asked if he ever thought of finding himself in a similar situation even after quitting the shorter format, Misbah said: "It's the part of life and you have to play in pressure, which is the reason you are surviving at such a level. You don't have to look behind as what has happened in the past but think positive and take everything positively.
"There is always a pressure in international cricket and obviously the opposition is playing good and you have to be at your best. We are aware about them and we have to respect the opposition as they are good at their home condition and are coming with the high confidence since World Cup."
At the press conference ahead of the Test series, Misbah was bombarded with questions about the ODI and T20 series loss. Usually one to tackle the media with ease, Misbah seemed to be irked by the barrage of questions from journalists.
He did not want to be reminded of the past, and kept reiterating the importance of a fresh start. He was busy convincing everyone that Pakistan in whites were a completely different prospect.
"Our Test side is quite experienced with this combination and has been consistently performing well for quite a long time now," he said. "It's a different ball game and these players have a better understanding of Test cricket and everybody is in good shape and in the best of his form. Also, the condition here is similar to Abu Dhabi and Dubai and we are hoping to carry on the form we have in the format.
"Apart from all the confidence Bangladesh have, we have to our focus on our strengths, concentrate at our basics which is the factor for success we've had in this particular format for many years. It's important for us to break the confidence of the Bangladesh team and for this we have to play our best cricket."
Pakistan were struck by quite a few injuries during the Bangladesh series but for the Tests, their attack seems a lot more settled - Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Imran Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar and Yasir Shah. Misbah felt that the spinners would have a crucial role to play in Khulna, and that perhaps three fast bowlers were not required.
Ajmal, who has been far less effective after his remodeled bowling action, could be left out for the first Test, but both Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar were seen making the most of the time during training.
"Obviously everybody knows he (Ajmal) is back after a long time and definitely he needs some time to adjust," Misbah said. "He has only played three games after remodeling his action so he is definitely going to take little bit of time. He actually needs time to adjust with his new action and he's definitely is going to improve."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson