Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Sharjah December 17, 2013

Misbah seeks top-order partnerships


Misbah-ul-Haq has called on his top order to consolidate starts, in the approach to Pakistan's five-ODI series against Sri Lanka, suggesting big scores at the top of the innings had been key to his team's recent success in South Africa.

Pakistan's batting has been fragile at the top for much of the year. They were clobbered 1-4 by South Africa in the ODI series in the UAE, but found redemption in the away matches, partly because of opener Ahmed Shehzad's 102 in the second game of that series.

"Especially in batting we need to build very good partnerships," Misbah said. "Top order batsmen need to carry on once they get starts. That's what we proved in South Africa. Shehzad was getting runs here and he got a hundred in South Africa that really helped Pakistan. That's what we were missing in the UAE [against South Africa]."

Misbah said the victory in South Africa continued to be a source of confidence for his players, but also warned of Sri Lanka's knack to rally from poor situations, in a match and in a series. His team had most recently been victims of that trait in an ODI in Colombo last year, when Angelo Mathews resurrected a chase with an unbeaten 80 from 76, which helped Sri Lanka eclipse Pakistan's 247, despite being 138 for 6 in the 35th over.

"It matters how you perform on the day. I think Sri Lanka really came back in the second Twenty20 after losing the first game. They looked an improved side," Misbah said. "This is what you are going to associate with the Sri Lanka team, that they really are fighters and can come back strongly. We need to repeat the good performances. We need to really show some good skills to beat them."

Misbah also expressed a commitment to blooding young players, which had been a focus for the side in the Twenty20 series. The experiment earned mixed results, but Misbah outlined the importance of building depth in the team, ahead of major international tournaments in the next 18 months.

"Giving players chances is how we got Bilawal Bhatti and Anwar Ali, who performed really well in South Africa. I think Sharjeel Khan is another example. This is the way to get good players in the line-up. You can really enhance your pool of players and we should continue wherever you need someone, to replace from the domestic circuit. Give him exposure and check him at this level."

Mathews, the Sri Lanka captain, hoped his batsmen would continue to be proactive against Pakistan's attack, after a belligerent attitude had brought them success in the second Twenty20.

"We know Pakistan are a very dangerous team when it comes to the shorter formats. They have one of the best bowling line-ups in the world, a good mix of spin and fast bowlers. Our batters need to be on guard to try and counterattack and be positive. We had an exciting Twenty20 series and we look forward to the one-day series as well."

Mathews also praised legspinning allrounder Seekkuge Prasanna, who walloped 21 from 8 balls on T20 debut, after being promoted to no. 3 to pinch-hit.

"Prasanna is a guy who can hit the ball out of the park any time. And he is a very gutsy player. He is a very good allrounder for us and we hope to see him doing well."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

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  • Android on December 18, 2013, 10:46 GMT

    pak team inshallah win.shoib maqsood play no 2 and akmal 3

  • Rao on December 18, 2013, 7:20 GMT

    Hafeez should be dropped and Harris Shoail should be in Instead of Tanvir ..Anwar Ali/Rehman should be the part of team

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    It's a shame if the dew factor comes into play again. Then the match will be dependent on the toss.

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2013, 6:56 GMT

    Misbah and Hafeez are playing with Junaid khan's career without any reason seated him on the bench and result seen in 2nd T20...

  • Android on December 18, 2013, 5:11 GMT

    the bigeest problem with pak is they dont hv quality players who can play anchor role just one who can score ball by ball some one lyk hashim amla kohli n ab develliers

  • Shuja on December 18, 2013, 3:29 GMT

    Pakistan cricket is going through a building phase finally and its good to see some new faces emerging in the international team. We need patience and persistence. Misbah is not my favorite and I definitely don't consider him as a match winner but honestly speaking he is the best batsman in the current batting line up. The only thing he needs is to be aggressive as a captain. With the politics playing a heavy role in the Pakistan cricket its high time all the big players gel up and perform together as a group. It can never be one man show. Cricket is all about team work. The squad looks good but we need to work around with the batting order. My batting order would be 1) Ahmed Shehzad 2) Sharjeel Khan 3) Sohaib Maqsood / Haris Sohail 4) Umer Akmal 5) Misbah ul Haq 6) Mohammed Hafeez 7) Shahid Afridi 8) Anwar Ali 9) Sohail Tanvir 10) Saeed Ajmal 11) Junaid Khan

  • Tharaka on December 18, 2013, 3:02 GMT

    i like to see Thisara Perera come as opening with Dilshan.

  • mohammad on December 18, 2013, 2:55 GMT

    the pakistan team looks in good shape but it will be better if pakistan drop hafeez and harris team will be shehzad sharjeel maqsood misbah haris umar afridi ajmal tanveer rehman junaid.....two quicks are enough as pakistan strength is their spin bowling... .rehman can score more than hafeez and he is more handy with ball aswell.....sorry hafeez no place for u.....

  • Gudu on December 18, 2013, 1:22 GMT

    Misbah is still the best one day batsman in Pakistani batting line up. I don't know why people criticise him so much. He brings calm and stability to the team. Winning matches is not only Misbah's responsibility, most of the eleven players have to perform to win the match. Misbah usually comes when the team is deeply under pressure and he can not start playing shots right from the start, if he gets out in an effort to play quick then the team will be out in 35 overs and last 15 overs will be wasted anyway, so it is better he consumes five ten overs and get the team out of trouble and then the players from the other end need to play quick as Misbah's role should be to block one end and play 50 overs. I think Misbah is doing exactly what he should do. He mostly gets you in a situation where you can win the match but lack of support from the other end lets him down. Well done Misbah keep it up man, we are with you.

  • ESPN on December 17, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    i hate to read people bad mouthing about misbah, he,s the only batsman who has cosistancy,and who you can trust in pakistan team that he will go on the pitch and score. we need to look his average wich is much better than any other player in the team. love you misbah.

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