Pakistan news August 22, 2016

'Pakistan deserve to be No. 1 side' - Waqar


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Pakistan's journey to the top

Former Pakistan coach Waqar Younis has said captain Misbah-ul-Haq's positive intent and calmness were the principal factors in Pakistan's rise to No. 1 in Tests. He added that this was a time when every Pakistani could rejoice and feel proud of the team's achievements.

Pakistan recently squared their four-match Test series in England - even as Australia were whitewashed 3-0 by Sri Lanka - to move into the No. 2 position and put the heat on India. After India's fourth Test against West Indies ended in a draw, Pakistan assumed top spot with 111 points, with India slipping to second place with 110.

"It's a proud moment for the whole nation," Waqar told ESPNcricinfo. "It's a huge moment for Misbah and for the entire team, as all the hard work finally paid off. It's always the ultimate dream to become the No. 1 team in the world, and there is no team other than Pakistan that deserves to be at the top. They suffered a lot in last seven-eight years but they have played outstanding cricket all along.

"There were a lot of problems in the background - those controversies and especially cricket not being played in the country and the boys being always on the road and away from home. So that is the major part I feel the team should be proud off. We kept moving forward after every hurdle, never stayed down and kept on fighting against all odds. That struggle makes this a remarkable moment for the country."

Waqar had two stints with Pakistan as head coach. Between March 2010 and August 2011, he oversaw five series, of which one was won, one was lost and three were drawn. During his second spell, between May 2012 and April 2016, the team won four series, drew one and lost one, results that laid a solid foundation in the team's run to the top. Waqar was replaced as head coach by Mickey Arthur, who joined the team 10 days before the recent England tour.

"I am honestly touched and, no, it's not about taking credit for what I have done. I would rather give full credit to Misbah-ul-Haq, who has shown resilience against his critics and never spoke a harsh word when things were going wrong. People were crushing him down because of his style of play, but now I think those people should be proud as Pakistanis. What else could you want from him? He did everything in his own way and, whether or not people like his way, it is working for the country and has taken us to the top of the world. What else do you want to achieve?

"It was Misbah's honesty and good intent that made a huge difference. His positive intentions and his characteristics are outstanding. His calmness - I have never seen him cursing his critics. Even though former and current players let him down, he never responded. But look what he has achieved. This is the kind of thing that made him the best. Pakistan is the team that deserves to be the No. 1 side."

Pakistan, in the 1990s, had bigger names on paper, many of whom went on to achieve great individual feats for the country. Apart from Waqar himself, Wasim Akram, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Saeed Anwar and Shoaib Akhtar were among the biggest names Pakistan has produced in its cricketing history. But that Pakistan side still did not achieve what the present lot has done - climbing to the pinnacle of the Test rankings.

"We were very good individually and were different," Waqar said of the teams that he had played in. "It's not like we didn't win much, but we were not the No. 1 team. That is why I feel more proud of this present team. Because this team is more gelled, know their role and are very well settled. Of course, these are not yet great players - none apart from Younis Khan has reached that mark - but they have done what we in the '90s were not able to do. This team could easily have fallen short of greatness, but they have achieved it with their hard work and unity.

"We struggled to step up in limited-overs cricket, which has a reason as well; we didn't change ourselves to adapt to modern cricket. But in Tests it is relatively easier to rise, because it hasn't changed that much. Test cricket has been played for 150 years and it has always been played in one spirit and one style of game. It was easy and of course our experienced players like Younis Khan, Misbah, Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam-ul-Haq in the last few years have all contributed really well.

"In recent times, there are so many players who have come through my era. Players like Saeed Ajmal, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Yasir Shah have done a great job to take Pakistan to certain level and it gives me immense happiness for them as I feel like a father figure to them. It gives me goosebumps thinking about what they have achieved. I hope they continue this for long, and keep the country's name up and alive at the top of the world."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricfan01159554 on August 23, 2016, 14:38 GMT

    "It was Misbah's honesty and good intent that made a huge difference...."

    The above line says it all and more important than the result.

  • ilustcricket on August 23, 2016, 13:26 GMT

    Well done team Misbah!! The next two tours for Pakistan are very tough, NZ and AUS. Pakistan will definitely need Misbah's calming influence and experience on the field in those two series and Misbah should not retire before the end of the Australian tour. Hopefully Pakistan can put up a good show in both those series like they did in England recently!

  •   Mohammad Rafay Malik on August 23, 2016, 12:23 GMT

    It must be said that what this Pakistan team have accomplished is something along the lines of magical and miraculous. It is the most balanced test team save for the openers at present, an immensely strong middle order with the two greatsYounus and Misbah still strong and the establishment of Azhar Ali as a batsman full of grit and determination . An impressive middle order consisting of a technically correct Asad Shafiq and a dynamic Sarfraz Ahmed. Successful reintegration of Muhammad Amir, the pace of Wahab Riaz, Pakistans Leo Messi but with magic in his fingers have formed a deadly bowling trio, not to forget an extremely talented bench consisting of Rahat Ali, Imran Khan, Sohail Khan and Zulfiqar babar to choose from. Whilst I've seen some criticism on Pakistan for not being able to defeat Sri Lanka in 2014, it's gotta be noted that this cricket team showed resilience and worked hard to clear flaws and ultimately win in 2015.

  • antler1 on August 23, 2016, 9:43 GMT

    As an Indian supporter I say well done to the Pakistan team, they deserve it. If we take out India's home wins, what would their ranking be?. What would India's ranking be if they could not play at home? I think Ishant Sharma would have retired with an average of 99.94 if he had to bowl in the 'home conditions' which Pakistan have had to.

  • Khurram S Chaudhry on August 23, 2016, 8:01 GMT

    Misbah deserves the credit. No doubt he was very vital to these successes. Considering the situation when he came, scandals, board issues, no home cricket then its really an achievement . More importantly, the unity is remarkable. They dont have many big super stars in this team but few decent players who play with unity under Misbah's captaincy. Wasnt the case in ODIs. That is also true that these players are no way near the big names of past. and that makes Misbah best test captain of all time. He hasnt had the luxury of 4-5 greats in team. But unity was there. All of them should be praised. they all contributed at some point. Waqar as well. He also contributed. However, just 1 drawback is that under waqar, one of the great fastbowler, out fast bowling didnt improve. Rahat, Imran, Wahab, Junaid should have been really special by now.

  • Ajshan on August 23, 2016, 7:02 GMT

    This makes the best case for equal distribution of neautral venue cricket. Example: ENG plau AUS in SL and SA play NZ in india. Thats also another way of promoting cricket and driving revenue withiut being dependedent on Indian team!

  • cricfan50566118 on August 23, 2016, 5:03 GMT

    Many people have forgot that the real architect who made this team no.1 was Pakistan's former coach Moshin Khan who has a 8 win 0 losses and a couple of draws I guess. He was the one who built the aggression in the team that was required and this happened around 2012 and Misbah continued that.

  • beautiful on August 23, 2016, 3:23 GMT

    One should take his hat off to Pakistan for ranking No.1 in test. They cannot play at home but still showed their supremacy to rise to the first place in tests. Congratulation to them. Pakistan Zindabad

  • Sexysteven on August 23, 2016, 3:12 GMT

    Misbah deserves all the credit no doubt but sadly Father Time has caught up with him and I think the time is right now for misbah to go out I don't think he's got another test century in him and u can't carry him cos of his leadership skills azhar ali is prob ready to take over and it would make sense for misbah to go out now so younis can have another year or so before he bows out so u don't have all that experience go out together plus whoever comes in can still have abit time in the team with younis which would be very valuable for that player

  •   Usman Ahmed on August 23, 2016, 2:47 GMT

    While taking nothing away from Misbah's leadership and hard work to get to this point from where they were 6 years ago, the real challenge lies ahead in maintaining the lead on the ranking table. With Misbah most likely to retire after this England series and other top test sides furiously fighting for the top spot, continuing to stay on the #1 spot won't be easy. The key would be in the culture Misbah would have instilled in the team, that would continue to aspire them.

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