ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
New Zealand v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Pallekele
Our batting must improve - Misbah
March 7, 2011
Misbah-ul-Haq believes Pakistan can, and must, improve further if they are to orchestrate a strong challenge for the World Cup. Pakistan are the only side in the tournament who can still boast of a 100% winning record, having won three out of three so far, but they come up against New Zealand on Tuesday in Pallekele after struggling considerably to overcome Canada in Colombo.
"There is always some room for improvement, and especially the way we have gone in our batting, it needs more improvement," Misbah said. Pakistan were bowled out for 184 against Canada at the Premadasa, though that was ultimately enough for a 46-run win. "Sometimes we do very good fielding if you compare it with our fielding in the past, but in patches we have done badly so our effort is to show more consistency.
"The conditions suited Canada in our last game, the wicket was a little bit slow and there were clouds so they exploited the conditions well, but that happens. Our batting has done well in New Zealand and against South Africa so the guys will be looking forward to it."
The batting will be tested further on Tuesday. The surface at the Pallekele stadium for its first ODI is expected to be faster and with more bounce than previous surfaces in Colombo and Hambantota, something New Zealand's quick bowlers might exploit against a batting line-up that struggles to cope with bounce. In August, New Zealand played a warm-up game against a Sri Lanka A side in this stadium, in which they bowled out the opposition for 91 and those who watched the game talk of bowling aimed between the throat and ribs.
"The way it looks, it's hard so it will have bounce," Misbah said, a view shared by New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori. "Exactly how it will behave is tough to say but it looks hard and has grass. We don't have stats of this ground, especially under lights, so you have no idea how the pitch will play."
Misbah's own batting form is mostly above reproach. He is Pakistan's leading scorer in the tournament with two fifties and his 37 was the second-highest score against Canada. He is also in the midst of a spectacular run of form against New Zealand, with six fifties in Tests and ODIs against them in New Zealand in January. His wicket will be vital.
"They just can't target just me, because before me there are three four batsmen who come and if they get hundreds, they can't just target me," Misbah said. "We are playing with six batsmen, so every one is important. We will be looking forward to our top order getting some runs because they did well in New Zealand so we are hoping they are going do it again."
There is every chance that Shoaib Akhtar will return to the XI, most likely in place of Wahab Riaz. That is probably the only change: Abdur Rehman's leg injury has healed enough for him to bowl at practice but Pakistan are not keen on risking him in a match in which they could seal a quarter-final spot with a win.