Pakistan v South Africa, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi October 13, 2013

Misbah confident of top order delivering

Misbah-ul-Haq is satisfied that Pakistan have done enough to strengthen their batting ahead of the Test series against South Africa. After dropping Mohammad Hafeez, who failed to score more than 25 in last ten 10 Tests innings, Pakistan will have two inexperienced openers in Khurram Manzoor and one of the uncapped duo of Ahmed Shehzad or Shan Masood, but Misbah is certain the new-look top two can produce.

"The conditions suit us, especially our batting. Our openers have very good records on these two grounds [Abu Dhabi and Dubai]," he said. "The team is in good shape and we will really give South Africa a hard time."

This will be the first time since 2010 in the UAE, when the venue started being used as Pakistan's home, that they will not have a top two consisting of Hafeez and Taufeeq Umar, who were successful in these conditions. In eight Tests against South Africa (2), Sri Lanka (3) and England (3), they had three century stands, three half-century partnerships and averaged 44.87. Individually, they had one big hundred - Taufeeq's 236 against Sri Lanka - and five half-centuries.

The lack of experience of that kind could be something for Pakistan to be concerned about, especially when considered in its context. Pakistan's younger batsmen have not performed up to expectations and have left a large amount of the work for the likes of Younis and Misbah, but the captain is backing the younger guys to come good this time.

"We had a few concerns with the batting line-up but over the practice games most of the guys did well," he said. "We have good confidence going into this Test match, especially in the batting line-up. The runs scored by the openers is a big positive for us and a good sign for our team."

Shehzad and Masood both scored half-centuries for Pakistan A against the South African attack they will face in the Test series. Although the Sharjah pitch did not offer much in the way of seam or spin, they handled South African quick bowlers with impressive patience upfront and good technique later on, and took on the spinners in a way that underlined their ability against slower bowling.

The rest of Pakistan A's line-up also profited in the practice game. Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq scored 54 and 42 respectively. In the other warm-up fixture, Younis carried on from where he left off in Zimbabwe with a century in the Pakistans game against the UAE, while Adnan Akmal scored 71 at the top - perhaps an indication he may be deployed in that capacity - and Abdur Rehman got a half-century as well. Manzoor had slightly less to feel comfortable about, after he was dismissed for 1.

Misbah believed conditions which will be less hostile than what they faced in South Africa earlier this year will serve as motivation for the team to continue building on their commendable showing - given that they don't play at home - during his time as captain. "In my time as captain, this bunch of guys has really performed well. When I took over, we were under pressure because of what happened with the spot-fixing scandal, but this team really kicked off and the young guys played really well. Keeping in mind that we are not playing at home and not playing much cricket, still this team is playing really well."

A lot of the younger generation have never played a match in Pakistan and the adjustment has been challenging for them. Misbah said they are slowly starting to see the UAE as an adopted home and getting used to thinking of it as their own. "We've been playing here for the last three years so it feels like playing at home," he said. "We want to prove to the world we are still a good team."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ibrar on October 14, 2013, 5:29 GMT

    Three spinners and two fast bowlers will weaken their batting line up. Pak needs an alrounder who can play in middle order. And most probably a spinning alrounder.

  • Atif on October 13, 2013, 22:08 GMT

    Why is Taufeeq Umar not being considered for the openers role?

  • aziz on October 13, 2013, 21:39 GMT

    Khurram Manzoor is a regular opener, he will play in place of Umar Amin. One from Shan Masood or Umar Amin will play in the second test after both Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq will fail. The captain usually drops Asad Shafiq after one failure but drops Azhar Ali after three failures. In my opinion they should drop one batsman and include Zulfikar Babar.

  • Dummy4 on October 13, 2013, 21:06 GMT

    Whatever the team selection be, Pak should play 2 seamers no matter what!!!

  • ESPN on October 13, 2013, 20:07 GMT

    For Pakistan to be successful, they need to be competitive in first innings... Second innings Pakistan has upper hand... They don't want to be too far behind...

    Knowing Misbah, it's look like 2010 all over again, all draws against well rounded SA... Misbah will be shooting for that first...

    SA don't want to bat last, that is for sure...

  • I on October 13, 2013, 16:02 GMT

    The absence of the Taufeeq-Hafeez partnership should not be a problem Hafeez's value was more as a bowler in the UAE than a dominant batsman. Taufeeq's big score v Sri Lanka that's highlighted in this article was really down to an umpiring error - he nicked it and wasn't given when on single figures (or maybe 12 or something like that). Trying new openers is fine, as it's the middle-order who will inevitable bear the brunt of the innings. Azhar and Asad deserve a lot of leeway, they're developing players with talent and need consistent selection. Add them to Misbah and Younis playing at their best, a cameo from from the wicketkeeper and no brainless run-outs, then maybe we can see competitive 5-day matches.

  • Dummy4 on October 13, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    I have a strong feeling we are going to be winning these test matches in UAE! PAKISTAN ZINDABAD!

  • Android on October 13, 2013, 13:23 GMT

    i think pak think tank only consider hafeez the problem ib test matches. he wasnt the only 1 who failed in Zim. others have to perform. azhar ali is also having an on and off type of form. need to be at best in this series as no3 and may get in very early.

    adnan can be played as opener really. his batting is not that good to be dependable with tail. so what ever he plays he can play at top.

    asad needs to perform well. he is good . scored a 100 in sa where most of batsmen failed. but a poor zim series was really bad. i think they will go with almost same team as last match. with ahmed in place of hafeezz and may be babar in place of rahat.

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