Pakistan news July 25, 2014

Pakistan look to regain Test groove

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Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, has admitted his team is rusty having played no Test cricket in the last six months, but said the players will shake off that rust over the course of their ongoing training camp ahead of their tour of Sri Lanka next month.

Pakistan have been undergoing a conditioning camp for the last nine days under an entirely new coaching staff headed by Waqar Younis, with the batting and fielding departments taken care of by Grant Flower and Grant Luden respectively.

"There is some rustiness and this is why we are playing as many as practice matches here to find some flow," Misbah said. "We are trying to get maximum batting practice and have been trying to tune ourselves for the last three days and simulate match scenarios. After all we are professional and we have to deal with whatever is coming our way so we have to manage and we will manage and will be ready by the time the series starts."

Pakistan last played a Test in Sharjah in January against Sri Lanka and at the time faced a nine-month drought but the PCB managed to strike a quick deal with SLC on the sidelines of the ICC meeting in Dubai in April and arrange the upcoming series. Pakistan and Sri Lanka have faced each other in five different series over the last five years - twice in Sri Lanka, twice in the UAE and once, in 2009, in Pakistan.

Since beating England in the UAE in 2012, Pakistan haven't won a single Test series. Misbah cited the 3-0 series defeat in South Africa last year as a setback that the team found hard to shake off. "When we went to South Africa [we] got under pressure after losing there but things have improved a lot so far," he said. "We have started to win matches and that is very important though we are yet to win a series. But there is also a reality that we are improving - our batting is looking good. We will try to repeat the same [last test in Sharjah] performance."

The first Test of the Sri Lanka tour starts on August 6 in Galle. Sri Lanka lost their last Test at the venue, against South Africa, but Misbah guarded against playing up Pakistan's hopes. "Sri Lanka mostly plays its first Test at Galle, it's their hunting ground, first Test is always important and our effort will be to remain focused and get prepared ourselves. The conditions suit us, it's a good opportunity for us, and there is a chance of result there. They [Sri Lanka] lost there against South Africa so they will be under pressure too and there is a possibility of them bouncing back hard."

Pakistan have recalled Umar Akmal after nearly three years out of the Test team, with Asad Shafiq also retained in the squad. These two could compete for one middle-order slot leaving the captain a tough decision to choose between them. "There's no confusion, whatever the decision is it's the selectors' decision. Umar Akmal has been playing well in one-day cricket and has ample experience under his belt. So such in-form players are good can be used (straightaway) because they are not new and they have no pressure on them. Asad Shafiq is a promising player. He has given good performances in Tests and both are the future for us."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Syed_imran_abbas on July 30, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    Pakistan's best test squad could have been: 1) Ahmad Shahzad 2) taufeeq umar 3) younas khan 4) fawad alam 5) Misbah 6) umar akmal 7) Rizwan 8) ajmal 9) junaid 10) irfan 11) adil

  • t20cric on July 29, 2014, 16:50 GMT

    @M Sheeraz Faseeh: I also think Fawad Alam should get in test team (I say it all the time in articles involving Pakistan) but not at the place of Asad/Umar Akmal. I think Fawad Alam should be no.4 or 5 batsmen permanently in tests & ODIs. When Misbah retires (it will be soon) then Fawad can take his spot. I think Fawad may prove to be even better batsman than Misbah cuz Fawad takes singles & hits the odd boundary whereas Misbah blocks & takes the odd single or sometimes hits boundaries. The problem is that the their isn't much space for him currently. Azhar Ali won't be dropped cuz of his last 100, Younis & Misbah can't be moved until retirement, Umar Akmal will probably make no.6 spot his own. The only way he can come in is as opener (scored debut test century as opener) or if Akmal/Azhar have extended run of failure. In long run I think the team will be: 1. Ahmed Shehzad,2. Nasir Jamshed, 3. Azhar Ali/Sohaib Maqsood, 4. Fawad, 5. Haris Sohail, 6. Umar Akmal/Asad, 7. Sarfraz/Rizwan

  • on July 28, 2014, 2:11 GMT

    Fawad Alam played so well in the asia cup and he is a much better choice than umar akmal and asad shafiq. Asad is a technically sound player but he has been very inconsistent. And Umar Akmal I dont think has that temperament needed in a test match to make big scores.

  • Gowza on July 28, 2014, 1:52 GMT

    @M Sheeraz Faseeh umar is potentially a future star and all time great for pakistan. if it was up to me i'd have fawad and umar in the team and have asad and azhar out. azhar ali has averaged in the 23s over the last 2 years in test matches.

  • on July 27, 2014, 20:31 GMT

    @Gowza@T20cric and others who are of the opinion U Akmal in place of Asad. I think neither should be in the squad. In their place should be Fawad Alam. Hes got one of the best FC records in Pak Crickets history, plus he has better test and ODI averages than both Umar and Asad. more importantly hes got a very mature way to how he goes about building his innings. Be it Test or ODI cricket we need a player like him who can rotate the strike, give the middle order the much needed stability, and anchor the innings.

  • t20cric on July 27, 2014, 17:18 GMT

    I think Umar Akmal should be picked over Asad Shafiq for all the reasons that Gowza said. Also notice that Asad Shafiq has been out of form for quite a long time (I don't remember a reasonable score from him since the 111 in SA). For all people saying that Pak's batting is strong I'm sorry to say but it isn't. We do have a really talented batting side that could be strong though. The reason I say Pak's batting isn't strong is because think of how many times Younis-Misbah partnership saves us after our top order collapses. Then with Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal (usually) and one of the weakest tails these days to follow we are over reliant on these two. I think a bating line-up like: 1.Ahmed Shehzad, 2.Shan Masood, 3.Azhar Ali, 4.Younis Khan, 5.Misbah-ul-haq, 6.Umar Akmal, 7.Sarfraz Ahmed would be stronger then what we've had in recent times. Simply because Shehzad, Akmal and Ahmed can all score relatively quickly with the rest providing solidity but we also haven't selected an all rounder.

  • Gowza on July 27, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    umar over asad easily for me. umar is more talented, younger (asad is currently in his prime, let's give umar some experience before he gets to his), they have similar test averages, asad has played 12 more test innings but scored just less than 400 more runs than umar has, umar has the superior overall FC record despite being younger, playing less matches etc umar has a similar amount of FC tons but many more half tons, more overall FC runs, much higher FC average, much higher strike rate. get the talented youngster amongst it!

  • Sinhaya on July 27, 2014, 3:33 GMT

    As a Sri Lankan, whenever Misbah Ul Haq bats against Sri Lanka, I support Pakistan, mark my words!! I have such a passion for Misbah ample times more than any Pakistani. When Pakistan beat us at Sharjah, I was glad Misbah scored the winning runs in the chase. Oh Misbah Misbah dont quit cricket please. Misbah is getting better with age. Your attitude and personality is one of the greatest.

  • on July 27, 2014, 0:38 GMT

    Umar akmal has to play wicket keeper batsmen in the playing 11

  • on July 26, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    Azhar Ali is the best Number 3 Pakistan has among the relatively new players. So his position should not be disturbed. Sarfraz Ahmed showed in last series how much promising he is with the bat. He has the will to score quickly as well as to hang in there according to team's need. Pakistan should plan to keep a long-term keeper and I am sure Sarfraz is the best guy right now. Umar Akmal or Asad Shafiq. Really tough choice for Misbah. He may have few sleepless nights thinking about who to prefer. Khurram Manzoor is good player but he has been worked out by Lanka bowling attack, his weakness has been exploited. so giving chance to Shan Masood in first match won't be a bad idea. Bowlers. Forget Wahab Riaz for God's sake. Talha and Junaid will make a good combination and along them the duo of Rehman and Ajmal, but I am afraid Misbah may prefer Rahat over Talha.

  • Syed_imran_abbas on July 30, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    Pakistan's best test squad could have been: 1) Ahmad Shahzad 2) taufeeq umar 3) younas khan 4) fawad alam 5) Misbah 6) umar akmal 7) Rizwan 8) ajmal 9) junaid 10) irfan 11) adil

  • t20cric on July 29, 2014, 16:50 GMT

    @M Sheeraz Faseeh: I also think Fawad Alam should get in test team (I say it all the time in articles involving Pakistan) but not at the place of Asad/Umar Akmal. I think Fawad Alam should be no.4 or 5 batsmen permanently in tests & ODIs. When Misbah retires (it will be soon) then Fawad can take his spot. I think Fawad may prove to be even better batsman than Misbah cuz Fawad takes singles & hits the odd boundary whereas Misbah blocks & takes the odd single or sometimes hits boundaries. The problem is that the their isn't much space for him currently. Azhar Ali won't be dropped cuz of his last 100, Younis & Misbah can't be moved until retirement, Umar Akmal will probably make no.6 spot his own. The only way he can come in is as opener (scored debut test century as opener) or if Akmal/Azhar have extended run of failure. In long run I think the team will be: 1. Ahmed Shehzad,2. Nasir Jamshed, 3. Azhar Ali/Sohaib Maqsood, 4. Fawad, 5. Haris Sohail, 6. Umar Akmal/Asad, 7. Sarfraz/Rizwan

  • on July 28, 2014, 2:11 GMT

    Fawad Alam played so well in the asia cup and he is a much better choice than umar akmal and asad shafiq. Asad is a technically sound player but he has been very inconsistent. And Umar Akmal I dont think has that temperament needed in a test match to make big scores.

  • Gowza on July 28, 2014, 1:52 GMT

    @M Sheeraz Faseeh umar is potentially a future star and all time great for pakistan. if it was up to me i'd have fawad and umar in the team and have asad and azhar out. azhar ali has averaged in the 23s over the last 2 years in test matches.

  • on July 27, 2014, 20:31 GMT

    @Gowza@T20cric and others who are of the opinion U Akmal in place of Asad. I think neither should be in the squad. In their place should be Fawad Alam. Hes got one of the best FC records in Pak Crickets history, plus he has better test and ODI averages than both Umar and Asad. more importantly hes got a very mature way to how he goes about building his innings. Be it Test or ODI cricket we need a player like him who can rotate the strike, give the middle order the much needed stability, and anchor the innings.

  • t20cric on July 27, 2014, 17:18 GMT

    I think Umar Akmal should be picked over Asad Shafiq for all the reasons that Gowza said. Also notice that Asad Shafiq has been out of form for quite a long time (I don't remember a reasonable score from him since the 111 in SA). For all people saying that Pak's batting is strong I'm sorry to say but it isn't. We do have a really talented batting side that could be strong though. The reason I say Pak's batting isn't strong is because think of how many times Younis-Misbah partnership saves us after our top order collapses. Then with Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal (usually) and one of the weakest tails these days to follow we are over reliant on these two. I think a bating line-up like: 1.Ahmed Shehzad, 2.Shan Masood, 3.Azhar Ali, 4.Younis Khan, 5.Misbah-ul-haq, 6.Umar Akmal, 7.Sarfraz Ahmed would be stronger then what we've had in recent times. Simply because Shehzad, Akmal and Ahmed can all score relatively quickly with the rest providing solidity but we also haven't selected an all rounder.

  • Gowza on July 27, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    umar over asad easily for me. umar is more talented, younger (asad is currently in his prime, let's give umar some experience before he gets to his), they have similar test averages, asad has played 12 more test innings but scored just less than 400 more runs than umar has, umar has the superior overall FC record despite being younger, playing less matches etc umar has a similar amount of FC tons but many more half tons, more overall FC runs, much higher FC average, much higher strike rate. get the talented youngster amongst it!

  • Sinhaya on July 27, 2014, 3:33 GMT

    As a Sri Lankan, whenever Misbah Ul Haq bats against Sri Lanka, I support Pakistan, mark my words!! I have such a passion for Misbah ample times more than any Pakistani. When Pakistan beat us at Sharjah, I was glad Misbah scored the winning runs in the chase. Oh Misbah Misbah dont quit cricket please. Misbah is getting better with age. Your attitude and personality is one of the greatest.

  • on July 27, 2014, 0:38 GMT

    Umar akmal has to play wicket keeper batsmen in the playing 11

  • on July 26, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    Azhar Ali is the best Number 3 Pakistan has among the relatively new players. So his position should not be disturbed. Sarfraz Ahmed showed in last series how much promising he is with the bat. He has the will to score quickly as well as to hang in there according to team's need. Pakistan should plan to keep a long-term keeper and I am sure Sarfraz is the best guy right now. Umar Akmal or Asad Shafiq. Really tough choice for Misbah. He may have few sleepless nights thinking about who to prefer. Khurram Manzoor is good player but he has been worked out by Lanka bowling attack, his weakness has been exploited. so giving chance to Shan Masood in first match won't be a bad idea. Bowlers. Forget Wahab Riaz for God's sake. Talha and Junaid will make a good combination and along them the duo of Rehman and Ajmal, but I am afraid Misbah may prefer Rahat over Talha.

  • on July 26, 2014, 13:24 GMT

    Very very strong batting line-up of Pakistan Team. Every player has an ability to score big hundred. Tough call for Misbah as well to whom pick between Asad and Umar ... Umar Akmal is very very talented but on the other hand Asad has already proved a very fine test player.. i personally feel okay for Umar to play ahead of Asad since sometime you're required to score quickly.

  • on July 26, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    I don't believe I am saying this but Pakistan are lacking pace gun which can rip through the batting lineup , hoping for improvement of existing lot under WAQ's coaching. Grant flower has a lot work to do to justify himself as a batting consultant bcoz we r talking about Pak's batting the most inconsistent never dependable batting lineup.

  • on July 26, 2014, 10:20 GMT

    Pakistan should use new batting tactics to regain test groove.at the time Pakistan lacking a test bowler.they should give chance to young talent like ehsan adil etc.

  • YSleo on July 26, 2014, 9:17 GMT

    i think Pak should try umer akmal at top positions 3 or 4 he have talent but v are wasting it

  • on July 26, 2014, 9:17 GMT

    Very much looking forward to Australia v Pakistan as going to be a very tight series , but typically it's just a 2 test series as com'on this should be atleast 3 tests.

  • on July 26, 2014, 9:09 GMT

    good to see umer akmal.in test team

  • on July 26, 2014, 7:42 GMT

    yes shahid aafridi is 2015 to capton is teim good captain

  • on July 26, 2014, 6:00 GMT

    You all will b tested

  • YaqNak on July 26, 2014, 4:45 GMT

    The huge problem with Pakistan is that they don't leave the new cricketers or the new comers to grow. They always focus on the old guns. I think they should start now to give the responsibility to the new comers. Misbah and Younus is good for test but for ODIs and T20s they are boring. Confidence on the like of Umar Akmal, Ahmad Shehzad, Maqsood, Alam will give Pak Cricket a victorious future but relying on so called seniors such as Misbah, Hafiz or Younus will definitely destroy Pakistan Cricket. Also, If Pak want to have good performance in upcoming World Cup (2015), they should bring an attacking captain and a good option is nevertheless Shahid Afridi. ( Fan of Pak cricket between 1992-2011).

  • hassubaby on July 26, 2014, 2:52 GMT

    I would NOT want khurram manzoor in my team,he is not a guy who will ever be consistent and he certainly won't do well against australia and south africa in their own conditions.This is what my team would be in order of batting:

    1.Ahmed Shahzad 2.Azhar Ali 3.Younis Khan 4.Misbah 5.Asad Shafiq 6.Umar Akmal 7.Sarfaraz Ahmad 8.Abdur Rehman 9.Saeed Ajmal 10.Junaid Khan 11.Mohammad Talha

    In an ideal world I would want Umar Akmal to keep wickets so Fawad Alam can play instead of Sarfaraz Ahmed. Fawad Alam is also useful because he is a decent left arm spinner with room for improvement. We should also bring in Sohaib Maqsood in the test side soon enough,he can replace Younis Khan once he retires.

  • on July 25, 2014, 19:12 GMT

    Without playing any test for 6 months, Pakistan still ranks 3rd in test rankings.

  • on July 25, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    Pakistan playing 11 must be this: 1. Khurram Manzoor 2. Shan masood/ Ahmed shehzad 3. younis khan 4. Asad Shafiq 5. Misbah 6. umar Akmal 7. Sarfraz 8. Talha 9. Wahab riaz 10. Ajmal 11. Junaid khan

  • AhtshamCheema on July 25, 2014, 16:43 GMT

    Pakistan will win both the series against SL

  • majid36 on July 25, 2014, 16:25 GMT

    it will be a very tough series for both teams. Bcoz both teams doing good in past. and improving day by day.if u look the batting of both teams then, it is somehow equal.if srilanka have sangakarra and jaywerdene . then pakistan also have experience batsmen like younis and misbah.if you look the younger players from both teams then pakistan again somehow is better then srilanka. bcoz pakistan have talented players like ahmed shehzad , azhar ali , asad shafiq, umar akmal etc. these players are doing well in past. but in lankan side there is only mathews and silva who is performing well. so i have to say that pakistani batting is looking good but it depends upon pakistani players how they played in srilanka bcoz in past pakistani batting collapsed many times. again if you compared pakistani bowling with srilanka then again pakistan is better then srilanka . pakistan have better spin and fast bowling attack then srilanka. so my opinion is 40% srilanka - 60% pakistan. good luck both teams

  • AhtshamCheema on July 25, 2014, 16:20 GMT

    pakistan will win both series inshaAllah... . . . .

  • Ab_ki_baar_Pakistan on July 25, 2014, 15:51 GMT

    Best of Luck Pakistan. Misbah, we are proud that you are captain of Pakistan team. Go Pakistan & win the series.

  • on July 25, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    Pakistan is blessed to have Misbah leading the side. May he get more success during the upcoming series. A double century from him on the cards!

  • asiacricket1234 on July 25, 2014, 13:49 GMT

    Dont wanna be rude about Pak team but they only seem to get ahead of ranking when others fails and go down in ranking when they play. Hopefully this time they will do better as a test team but its gonna be hard for them as SL is a way better team than Pakistan in all format of the game.

  • Afique on July 25, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    Afridi should be in the test team as a legspinner and late blaster of spin ball...

  • on July 25, 2014, 13:44 GMT

    good luck. they are coming back from a lonf break so might be hard to start well but this will be a short tour so no time to do that. new management so will have to wait for result. both tests will be played on same grounds as current series vs SA so they can have a close look on whats happening as well as SL's players. asad has not been in good form so umar might be in straight away. fast bowling has been issue recently and thats where they need to focus. SA won 1 st test because of their fast bowlers. ajmal has had a great time in england and will be good to see that form in coming series. pakistan's last test was really good one so they can look to that for motivation.

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  • on July 25, 2014, 13:44 GMT

    good luck. they are coming back from a lonf break so might be hard to start well but this will be a short tour so no time to do that. new management so will have to wait for result. both tests will be played on same grounds as current series vs SA so they can have a close look on whats happening as well as SL's players. asad has not been in good form so umar might be in straight away. fast bowling has been issue recently and thats where they need to focus. SA won 1 st test because of their fast bowlers. ajmal has had a great time in england and will be good to see that form in coming series. pakistan's last test was really good one so they can look to that for motivation.

  • Afique on July 25, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    Afridi should be in the test team as a legspinner and late blaster of spin ball...

  • asiacricket1234 on July 25, 2014, 13:49 GMT

    Dont wanna be rude about Pak team but they only seem to get ahead of ranking when others fails and go down in ranking when they play. Hopefully this time they will do better as a test team but its gonna be hard for them as SL is a way better team than Pakistan in all format of the game.

  • on July 25, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    Pakistan is blessed to have Misbah leading the side. May he get more success during the upcoming series. A double century from him on the cards!

  • Ab_ki_baar_Pakistan on July 25, 2014, 15:51 GMT

    Best of Luck Pakistan. Misbah, we are proud that you are captain of Pakistan team. Go Pakistan & win the series.

  • AhtshamCheema on July 25, 2014, 16:20 GMT

    pakistan will win both series inshaAllah... . . . .

  • majid36 on July 25, 2014, 16:25 GMT

    it will be a very tough series for both teams. Bcoz both teams doing good in past. and improving day by day.if u look the batting of both teams then, it is somehow equal.if srilanka have sangakarra and jaywerdene . then pakistan also have experience batsmen like younis and misbah.if you look the younger players from both teams then pakistan again somehow is better then srilanka. bcoz pakistan have talented players like ahmed shehzad , azhar ali , asad shafiq, umar akmal etc. these players are doing well in past. but in lankan side there is only mathews and silva who is performing well. so i have to say that pakistani batting is looking good but it depends upon pakistani players how they played in srilanka bcoz in past pakistani batting collapsed many times. again if you compared pakistani bowling with srilanka then again pakistan is better then srilanka . pakistan have better spin and fast bowling attack then srilanka. so my opinion is 40% srilanka - 60% pakistan. good luck both teams

  • AhtshamCheema on July 25, 2014, 16:43 GMT

    Pakistan will win both the series against SL

  • on July 25, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    Pakistan playing 11 must be this: 1. Khurram Manzoor 2. Shan masood/ Ahmed shehzad 3. younis khan 4. Asad Shafiq 5. Misbah 6. umar Akmal 7. Sarfraz 8. Talha 9. Wahab riaz 10. Ajmal 11. Junaid khan

  • on July 25, 2014, 19:12 GMT

    Without playing any test for 6 months, Pakistan still ranks 3rd in test rankings.