Pakistan v South Africa, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi, 4th day October 17, 2013

Misbah proud of UAE record


The most important thing about thriving in the desert is the ability to adapt to its harshness. Plants store water, animals spend most of the day preserving energy in the shade and the Pakistan cricket team take wickets on tracks where most attacks toil without reward.

Misbah-ul-Haq credited his attack with dealing a decisive blow to South Africa and paving the way to allow Pakistan to break the visitors 15-match unbeaten streak. "The way our bowlers bowled in the first innings on a flat track, they gave us a good sniff by getting South Africa out for under 250," he said. Mohammad Irfan extracted bounce, Junaid Khan found movement and Saeed Ajmal and Zulfiqur Babar troubled South Africa with turn to ensure Pakistan only needed four bowlers to take 20 wickets.

In comparison, South Africa used seven bowlers and needed 45 and a half more overs to bowl Pakistan out in their first innings. On a surface that offered little assistance to either seam or spin, Pakistan relied on guile to do the job. Misbah said that is something learned through experience and time. "With Pakistan, it's a mental game. We always do well here so we have the confidence and the belief that we can do well."

Pakistan have not lost a Test since making the UAE their adopted home in 2010 and have bowled their opposition out in 15 of 18 innings they've taken to the field in. Their spinners are particularly threatening as England, and now South Africa have discovered. Misbah believes defeating another No.1 team in the world would give the team even more confidence.

"Conditions played an important role," he said. "When you are playing at a venue where you've performed well as a team, its a big plus. You really feel comfortable going in search of a win. I always believed this team has the quality to produce this type of cricket. If we can beat the No.1 side in the world, we can do it against any side in the world."

Pakistan's bowling performance was backed up by batsmen who showed more character than they have in the past, particularly the top two. Misbah ensured they shared the credit for the victory. "That really gave us an advantage. The way they started and the way they were attacking, that made a difference," he said. "By scoring at almost four runs an over they gave us that momentum to press on."

Misbah also thought Khurram Manzoor and Shan Masood did the important job of softening up the South African bowlers and making them question their own plans "When you score only 249 on a flat track. different things go through your mind and bowlers try different things. They want to take quick wickets and go for runs."

He did not have much to say about his own hundred, the fourth of his career, and the first in over two years. When nudged, Misbah admitted it was an innings he will cherish. "It is the most precious thing for a batsman to achieve. Such a satisfaction you cant have doing anything [else]. I really enjoyed that. And we won the game so that makes it something special to remember."

If being home has a feeling, that is what Misbah, more than anyone else would have experienced. The supporters cheered his every move and there were plenty of them in the ground. Given that it was played over the Eid holiday, crowds were larger than predicted with thousands in on every day. Despite the heat, humidity and distance of the ground from the city centre, they filled the grandstand and the grass embankments, brought their drums and their flags and cheered on their team.

"That was wonderful, especially to see that after such a long time," Misbah said. "Usually, you only have this support in one-dayers so it was nice to have it in a Test. I can tell you, it really helped the team. It kept the players motivated. I hope people come to the next game as well."

Misbah has promised the Dubai-based fans they will not be in for a draw because Pakistan are not simply. going to try and preserve their lead. "We have just given clear instructions to the groundsman that we want results. We want to exploit our home advantage," Misbah said. "We are not going to think negative because whenever there are negative thoughts in your mind, you don't get results. Whether we win or lose, we want results."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Qaasim on October 18, 2013, 21:37 GMT

    Misbah is a class act (jumped up and down like a 5 yr old when he made his century) ... We need to make the UAE a fortress and then build our domestic cricket and challenge teams like RSA in RSA, England in England and be able to fight tooth and nail against them ... That will make us the best

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2013, 18:52 GMT

    Misbah proved "Age is nothing but a number to define someone." love the way he carrying Pakistan in these situations. I really appreciate if BCCI keep their politics 'dirty' aside & tour UAE to play Pakistan a full seires. No wonder, if stadiums get full of crowd like we seen in Sharjah in early 2000s

  • Nasser on October 18, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    Yet another excellent article from Firdose; she is a joy to read - and is very much amongst the top analysts. What can you say about Misbah. He may not be as great as Miandad (who performed under any conditions and was a real fighter) but is defintely even more consistent than him; and to think he usually comes in to bat when Pakistan is usually around 60 with 3 wickets down. In this test match he arrived with Pakistan at incredible 7 for 3 and steered Pakistan to victory (7 for 3 could very easily have been 15 for 6 and the tail fully exposed, I shudder to think). Misbah is also easily the best captain Pakistan ever had, even better than Miandad, if you look at win/loss ratio.

  • Pravek on October 18, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    How about India v Pakistan in Abu Dhabi???

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2013, 15:39 GMT

    he is just awesome mostly he comes for bat @ 3 or for fo 20 runs so condition forces him to stay on wkt and most people ask him TUK TUK coz o that

  • Dominque on October 18, 2013, 14:48 GMT

    Good win, but its not world cup anyways....

  • mahendra on October 18, 2013, 14:28 GMT

    Well Done Pakistan for a super victory from an Indian fan. Respect Misbah.

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    great victory off course but keep it up and win full series!

  • Sachit on October 18, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    I have never seen any other batsman atleast from subcontinent scoring half centuries and more in such a consistent manner. Only thing that goes against Misbah is his age otherwise no reason he can't survive and lead Pakistan in next WC.

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    misbah is a class act that any team will love to have. Especially in modern era, where teams like Australia, WI, Sri Lanka in future, and to a certain extent India (lots of talent but yet to establish position at int level apart from pujara) where there is a shortage of quality batsman would kill to have a batsman as good as misbah. Pakistan also has a shortage of quality batsman (although shafiq, umar akmal, azar ali are very talented but inexperienced), so I can't understand the intense hatred towards misbah from pakistani fans. My only complaint with misbah is that why does he bat so low down the order. He really should be batting higher up. Australian batsman, even sachin, sehwag and dravid BTW generally always started low and then gradually moved towards top order. The same thing should be done with young batsman.

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