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Umar Farooq in Dubai
January 10, 2014
At 19 for 3, Pakistan seemed to be heading towards an inevitable defeat, but Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq both scored fifties to keep Sri Lanka at bay on the third day. The hosts still trailed by 91 runs at the end of play, but Younis insisted that the team's fightback would continue. Younis was unbeaten on 62, while Misbah hit 52 not out, as the pair put up an unbroken stand of 113 for the fourth wicket.
"I tried to fight back," Younis said. "In the end, it was good that I had a partnership with Misbah. The seniors always perform whenever the team needs them to, so that's good."
What would have hurt Pakistan is the fact that their bowlers had actually done well to dismiss Sri Lanka within 28 overs on day three, conceding only 70 runs in the process to keep the visitors' lead at 223. The hosts, however, immediately collapsed and lost Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez and Khurram Manzoor in quick succession. Given Pakistan's recent batting performances, it would have been safe to assume that the rest of their batting would also fold, but Younis and Misbah stayed firm to launch a counterattack.
"What was needed was to keep it simple on the pitch and play according to the situation. It's always good whenever Misbah plays with me as we just take singles and we try to cash in on easy deliveries. It was the same when I was with Yousuf, with whom I had a big partnership."
When asked why the youngsters like Shehzad and Manzoor were not taking on the responsibility, Younis said: "Ahmed is new to Test cricket so I think we must give him some time. Khurram is doing well as he has had some experience in Tests. I hope they learn from their mistakes. I think if they play for 14 years, they will also play like us. It's as simple as that."
"Khurram has played 10 Tests while it's just the start for Ahmed. I think that with time they will learn, especially after playing so many T20s and ODIs. When you play an ODI, you field for 50 overs and then bat.
"But in Test cricket, you sometimes have to field for more than 150 overs and then go open. The first four batting positions are very crucial in Tests, so you can say it has something to do with their fitness, as much as their experience. If you look at them after five years, maybe you will say they are batting better than us."
Despite the recovery, Pakistan are still facing an uphill task, with Asad Shafiq the only reputed batsman left to come. Still, Younis is optimistic that Pakistan can take a commanding lead.
"The first target is that we get a lead of around 220. Something like 200-300 runs on the board will be good for us. One thing that happened in Abu Dhabi was that the ball was seaming, but they [Sri Lanka] took the match away from us," he said. "So I thought if we played correctly and according to the situation, we could be in a similar position. If we cashed in on one or two sessions and stayed there together, you never know. Anything can happen on the last day."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Umar Farooq
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala