Pakistan v England 2011-12 January 7, 2012

'Better to win by playing defensively' - Misbah


Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, has said he would rather win matches than worry about maintaining a balance between attack and defence. Though Misbah led Pakistan to six wins in 10 Test matches in 2011, there has been some criticism that he adopts a safety-first approach as captain.

"Cricket these days should be taken up with a balanced approach," Misbah said at the end of a four-day training camp at the Gaddafi Stadium organised to help Pakistan prepare for their upcoming series against England in the UAE. "[But] it's better to win by playing defensively, instead of losing by playing aggressively. It's all about the situation; what you are required to do or not do in a particular scenario."

The camp in Lahore mainly focussed on the bowlers and entailed strenuous fielding drills at the beginning of each day, as well as mental strengthening sessions for the players. Among the batsmen, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Imran Farhat and Mohammad Hafeez were spotted having intense sessions in the nets. A big positive to come out of the camp was that fast bowler Junaid Khan, who suffered an abdominal muscle strain during Pakistan's recent one-day series against Sri Lanka, was declared fit to play. The players have now dispersed and will reconvene on January 9 to leave for the UAE, with the first Test to begin on January 17 in Dubai.

England are the No. 1 Test team in the world according to the ICC rankings, but Misbah said his team would not be intimidated by their opposition's reputation. "My approach is simple in cricket: when you go onto the ground, give your 100% and focus on your performance. Forget about who the opposition is, do what you can do right, play tough cricket and then you look at the results. When you do all these things right, results will be in your favour."

While fast bowler Aizaz Cheema had said the conditions in the UAE are similar to those in Pakistan, Misbah said, based on his experience of playing in the UAE, both batting and bowling will be a challenge. "If you look at the conditions in the UAE, it's difficult for bowlers to take wickets, it's also difficult for batsman to score runs because of the slow pitches where the ball doesn't come onto the bat. It will be a challenge for both teams; both departments will have to work hard.

"England is a thoroughly professional team, and we have to put in real hard work to score runs against them and will have to bowl up to the mark to bowl them out."

The Decision Review System (DRS) is a welcome addition to the series, he said. "I always say it (the DRS) gives both teams a chance because umpires are also human-beings and they can make mistakes sometimes. This is an option for both batsmen and bowlers to help rectify the mistakes of the umpires. I am always in favour of this superb innovation. No doubt it needs better accuracy but I still believe it's quite helpful for the teams."

Pakistan had an impressive run in 2011; they did not lose any of the Test series they played and reached the semi-finals of the World Cup. They have been helped by consistent all-round performances, Misbah said. "If you look at our recent performance, Pakistan is doing well in every department: batting, spin bowling, fast bowling. We do lack [a bit] in fielding and there are a few lapses, but overall every department is doing the required hard work. Against top teams you can't depend on a specific department, you have to perform well in every department to compete."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aamir on January 10, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    As being a Pakistani fan, I'm still surprised that the Pak fans would think that the other team has full advantage and that Pak can't do anything. They did this last year with Zimbabwe, saying that "Even being a Pak fan, Zimbabwe will whitewash Pak and that Pak can't win". Don't you lot even look at the positives at all apart from the bowling? Pakistan's batting line up is as great as it can be now. Look at Hafeez who is free flowing, look at Taufeeq who creeps steadily or somewhat healthily to huge scores, look at Azhar who will be the future Younis Khan, look at Younis who is in the form of his life, look at Misbah who takes him time and will play accordingly to the situation and building great partnerships and finally, look at the future great batsmen in Umar Akmal. Have faith in Pakistan and that they will win in the test series. England aren't invincible, they too have their weaknesses and their stumps will be rattled and their deliveries will be smashed.

  • Cricinfouser on January 10, 2012, 15:03 GMT

    I think that Misbah is doing a great job as a defensive captain. If we look back he has won for us every ODI and Test series. Everyone has issue with Misbah that he is boring and doesn't actually do something, but in reality he is an amazing captain. Not everyone should have a boom-boom mentality.

  • Dummy4 on January 10, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    your attitude would suit better if you were captaining some team like Bangladesh ... When captaining one of the top teams in the world you shouldn't be doing this. This is exactly what Dhoni is doing at the moment too :-(

  • Matt on January 10, 2012, 1:25 GMT

    Shock! Winning better than losing!

  • Dummy4 on January 10, 2012, 0:44 GMT

    is it just me or is that pic a really funny one :DD

  • Dummy4 on January 9, 2012, 21:01 GMT

    Test cricket is about combining more of defense with a little bit of aggression. that is why it call for a different set of players. it is different from one-day cricket. Now a days with matches ending in four days a little bit of defense or slow tactics are welcome.

  • Nitin on January 9, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    I agree with Misbah, the ultimate goal is to win a cricket game. I am excited about the Pak-Eng series and support the Pak team. I think it all depends on how the Pak batsman perform because the bowlers are good enough to take 20 English wickets.

  • Dummy4 on January 9, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    Miisbah as always is very sincere and honest. He knows his strenght and weaknesses and always talks sense infront of the media. Just the right person who can take Pakistan cricket forward.

  • Arif on January 9, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    I would agree with Misbah. If we can win matches against England being defensive then why not. Winning is what really matters. In my opinion Pakistani Team is still going through a rebuilding period, where few positions still dont have perfect candidates. e.g opening partner for Hafeez.

  • Dummy4 on January 9, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    Misbah is the only captain material in Pak. clearly there does not seem to be any successor. U.Akmal should not have been named in the test squad. Shafiq was doing just fine. it is also time to drop Gul from the test side. he makes a mess in test cricket, the youngsters are better.

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