Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sharjah, 5th day November 7, 2011

Misbah defends not going for target

ESPNcricinfo staff

Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, has said his team's plan when faced with a target of 255 in around 60 overs in Sharjah was to make a good start. When that did not happen, he said, Pakistan had to change their plan and play for the draw, which they achieved to win the Test series 1-0.

Pakistan began the chase briskly, with Mohammad Hafeez lacing a couple of boundaries through the off side, but he was run out in the fifth over and Azhar Ali fell in the 14th. Pakistan slowed down after that and reached 87 for 4 in 57 overs, enough to secure a third Test trophy since Misbah took over the captaincy last year.

"I think we were positive in the start and hoped we got a good start, but we lost two wickets quickly, so we had to change our plans," Misbah said. "They bowled well and the ball was spinning."

The win continued Pakistan's run of not losing a Test series since Misbah took over the captaincy after the spot-fixing controversy in August 2010. In that time Pakistan have won four Tests and lost only one. Misbah, however, said he was still disappointed Pakistan did not win the series against Sri Lanka 2-0 because they had the chance to win the first Test in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan had a 314-run lead after the first innings but a combination of Kumar Sangakkara's double-century and six dropped chances over the fourth and fifth days denied Pakistan the win.

"There is also a sense of disappointment to have not won 2-0," Misbah said. "One bad fielding session in Abu Dhabi spoiled that chance. Kumar Sangakkara played brilliantly and saved them."

While Pakistan were playing in Sharjah, three former players - Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif - were given jail sentences for their involvement in spot-fixing during the Lord's Test last year. Misbah said there had been mention of the sentencing in the Pakistan dressing room but the focus was always on the Test. "Of course, we did talk about that [the sentences] sometimes, but nobody got into it deeply since we are here to play cricket," he said. "We remained focused on the work at hand because we wanted to do well. This is a young bunch of players and they are gelling well. The best part is that every player realises his responsibility and is playing for the team."

While Pakistan's results have been commendable given their off-field problems, Sri Lanka have been in a slump, having not won in 14 Tests since Muttiah Muralitharan's retirement. Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka captain, said their problem was starting series poorly. In England and at home against Australia, Sri Lanka lost the first Test and went on to lose the series 0-1, and in the UAE they salvaged a draw in the first, lost the second, before an improved performance in the third Test.

"It is a sad feeling to lose and we need to start series well," Dilshan said. "We didn't do that in England, then against Australia at home and now against Pakistan."

Sri Lanka were dismissed for 197 and 239 in the first innings of the first two Tests. Dilshan said those performances with the bat were the reason they lost the series. "You saw the difference in this Test, when we put on a total of more than 400," he said. "After losing the second Test the boys put up a good show in this game."

Sri Lanka had started the final day of the series 237 runs ahead with five wickets in hand, and would have been looking to score quick runs and attack Pakistan. However, they were thwarted by the rare occurrence of rain in Sharjah, which washed out the first session. Dilshan said "there could have been a different result" had the rain stayed away.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mohammad on November 9, 2011, 10:27 GMT

    Ramiz Raja's too aggressive commentary about chasing the target has given food for quite a few hit and miss mentality T20 supporters to criticize the Captain. Win and draw both are better than loosing. I do not remember how many matches Ramiz Raja won with his aggressive captaincy. I hope these too aggressive players take a look at GREAT HANIF playing test cricket. Then they will understand the difference between TEST and hit and miss game. Make Ramiz Raja commentator for T20 games only.

  • anthony on November 9, 2011, 10:17 GMT

    @nasim khan......why do the irrational crazy elements among pakistan fans such as yourself give the more balance fans a bad nme....misbah is the best captain Pakistan have had since Imran Khan....I for one as a South african thought his innings against India in the WC semi final was heroic...he was the last man standing like a captain should be. why dont u concentrate on why afridi threw the game away with his irresponsibility? it sounds to me u prefer the wild maverick irresponsibility in the team rather than the stability, and win ethic misbah brings....pak could have beaten south africa, they beat NZ, Zim, Sri lanka on the trot and should have beat windies too.Good days for pakistani cricket

  • Manesh on November 9, 2011, 9:56 GMT

    Wow...the T20 champions were not able to score those runs! pathetic by pakistan...SL deserved to win this.

  • Dummy4 on November 9, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    @nasim, how would misbahs record been affected adversely if we lost this match??? the record is for not losing a series, since misbah took over as captain weve always drawn series or won them! for ONCE weve got a captain who knows how to lead a team to not lose and who takes responsibility simultaneously and who isnt responsible for politics in the team. what do you want? the whimsical afridi or the instigator malik to take over?

  • DINESH on November 9, 2011, 8:07 GMT


  • Rayhan on November 9, 2011, 6:32 GMT

    First of all, well played Pakistan. A series win over a better ranked team after a long long time, heartening to see. For those of you criticizing Pk for not chasing, it is unfair to do so. Pk were 1-0 up, why should they chase? On the other hand SL were the defensive team - they shud've declared once it started to rain. Instead they made absolutely sure they were safe and then declared. If SL can play safe, why cant Pk? Throughout the series, an average of 230-250 runs were scored per day, stll SL wanted 280-290? On a last day wicket? Let me assure you, if Pk had started scoring faster, Herath and co. wud've come around the wicket and started to bowl the negative line. They wud've forgotten about attack. As far as the umpiring decisions go, someone pointed out Simon Taufel's blunder. What about the decision that Dilshan got when Akmal caught him? And the LBW's not given? SL were at the better end of the umpiring decisons throughout the series. Pay tribute where ites due folks!

  • Dummy4 on November 9, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    @KarachiKid........Misbah along with Azhar Ali have been the most consistent players in the test side for a year now, so ur argument for saving wickets is a pathetic one...they have the complete test matches mentality, and that is wht required in this the era of T20s, people have forgotten wht the longer version of the game demands.........I wonder if you had ever seen a Test Match played 30 years ago, u wud have certainly caught short of the crease...!!!

  • Dummy4 on November 9, 2011, 6:29 GMT

    Pakistan did well not to chase the target because on fifth day pitch, it is impossible to score four runs per over. The ball was spinning and they don't want to take any risk. The series was important rather that match. Well Done Misbah.

  • mohammad on November 9, 2011, 3:52 GMT

    @nasim Khan. Your comment is highly biased, motivated and without merit. Why one player should be responsible for a team's defeat. When 5 batsmen failed, why do you expect one to carry the team to wining position from defeat situation? Did Imran alone won the world cup or Wasim, Miandad, young Inzamam, Mushtaq all had a role? Is there any captain in the world who does not want a good record? Can you show me one such case?

  • Dummy4 on November 9, 2011, 1:49 GMT

    misbah is the best capitan for pakistan now. . . he is cool as well. .. and a gud player. ..we love u misbah

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