South Africa v Pakistan, 1st Test, Johannesburg

Misbah displays quiet confidence

Firdose Moonda in Johannesburg

January 31, 2013

Comments: 38 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Smith and Misbah-ul-Haq hold the series trophy, Johannesburg, January 31, 2013
Misbah-ul-Haq's Pakistan have won eight of the 14 Tests they have played in the last two years, and may not be easy to beat against South Africa © Getty Images
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In between the growing of Graeme Smith's age and that of the size of his family, his record as the only captain to lead a side in 100 Tests, and Test cricket returning to the Wanderers for the first time 15 months, everyone has forgotten something: Pakistan are also playing. Misbah-ul-Haq and his team are used to being side-lined though, so they are unfazed by it.

Misbah waited patiently outside the room as Smith gave his press conference, which was dominated by talk of the captaincy rather than any pre-series analysis. He entered as Smith finished; the Pakistan team manager, their coach and Misbah went to congratulate the South African captain. Misbah and Smith shook hands warmly, posed with the trophy and exchanged some pleasantries.

Smith bounded out of the room with the excitement of someone who has a party to look forward to, but Misbah's demeanour was unchanged. Straight-faced and entirely serious, he sat down to address a much smaller crowd about his team's very real hopes of success.

Naturally, the first question he got was about Smith. How does he think has lasted so long in the job, especially as captains tend not to, particularly in Pakistan where it must be a tough task?

The language barrier would have played a role in Misbah's answer, which side-stepped Smith with the deftness of a rugby winger, trying one of those dinky moves to evade defence. "I wouldn't say it has been tough captaining Pakistan, I have really [enjoyed] captaining Pakistan and the guys are responding well to me," he said.

Under him, Pakistan have won nine of the 17 Tests they've played and lost one. Misbah first led the side against South Africa in November 2010 and since then, as a team, they've lost only twice. Misbah was not part of the second defeat, against Sri Lanka in Galle because he was banned for over-rate violations.

Overall, his tenure has coincided with two of Pakistan's more consistent years in all formats. Handy preparation for what Misbah now calls their "biggest challenge." Pakistan have played in the sub-continent, New Zealand, West Indies and Zimbabwe since Misbah took over. Prior to that they faced Australia and England in England, but they have not come up against South Africa at home since 2007.

For visiting teams, the bottom tip of the African continent has been a difficult place to succeed. South Africa have not lost a series at home in four years, since they were beaten by Australia in early 2009. Before that, England triumphed over them in 2004. They have never lost to a team from the sub-continent at home.

Now that they are the top-ranked team in Test cricket, attempting to overturn that may seem daunting but Misbah is ready, despite Pakistan playing their last Test six months ago. "It is a good chance for us to improve as a team," he said. "It does play a bit of a role; not playing as regularly as other players but at the same time it develops you as a team. We've gathered, everything is alright and we know what to do."

Pakistan's experienced players will be much relied upon in the series, especially as many of the squad have not toured South Africa before. Younis Khan, for example, will have to be a provider of information and runs and he, too, is prepared for the task. "We are ready for the big rumble. We are very positive. We know that if you want to win against South Africa you must play with a positive frame of mind," he said.

New Zealand, who were the previous team to tour South Africa, confused aggression with recklessness and batting collapses were the theme of their trip. Pakistan bring better skills than New Zealand though, and their promise of intent should not be taken lightly. "This is the way to go; you have to back your ability."

The intent will start at the top with Nasir Jamshed, who is likely to debut in place of the injured Taufeeq Umar. Taufeeq has been a constant for Pakistan, having played in the last 18 Tests, and he scored in South Africa on their last visit but a stress fracture of the shin had sent him home.

Jamshed's good form includes two half-centuries in the warm-up match and Misbah is hopeful this could signal the start of a long career. "He is a really gifted player and has had some very good knocks against top quality sides. With the kind of talent that he has, he can make a difference."

In case that is not enough to get South Africa thinking of the match itself and not the sideshows, there is also the prospect of facing a quick having a height of more than two metres, Mohammed Irfan. Misbah was cagey about whether the lanky seamer will play, and instead only promised that Pakistan, "have got some other surprises as well."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Harmony111 on (February 1, 2013, 17:16 GMT)

@Solid_Snake: You say you have been to several threads and have not seen any Pak fans saying such things for SA team and SA players? I can only ask you to read with a bit more focus. Try searching for usmanHM on ....espncricinfo.com/south-africa-v-pakistan-2013/content/story/602762.html to find one such sample.

And oh, you did not ask anything to me here, so I don't know what question you are now referring to. You must have mixed up 2-3 diff fora. And btw, Ind were #1 longer than Eng so your point of "suddenly" doesn't hold for India as much as it for England. And you may be pleased to know that in Aug 2010 your fab TOP CLASS Pak team managed to get a.o. for less than 100 THREE TIMES IN A MONTH VS England. Add to it Pak's fantastic record of 0-9 streak in 3 consecutive tours of Aus and you can figure out how Pak stands vis-a-vis India in Tests.

Posted by Harmony111 on (February 1, 2013, 15:57 GMT)

@Solid_Snake: You say you have been to several threads and have not seen any Pak fans saying such things for SA team and SA players? I can only ask you to read with a bit more focus. Try searching for usmanHM on ....espncricinfo.com/south-africa-v-pakistan-2013/content/story/602762.html to find one such sample.

And oh, you did not ask anything to me here, so I don't know what question you are now referring to. You must have mixed up 2-3 diff fora. And btw, Ind were #1 longer than Eng so your point of "suddenly" doesn't hold for India as much as it for England. And you may be pleased to know that in Aug 2010 your fab TOP CLASS Pak team managed to get a.o. for less than 100 THREE TIMES IN A MONTH VS England. Add to it Pak's fantastic record of 0-9 streak in 3 consecutive tours of Aus and you can figure out how Pak stands vis-a-vis India in Tests.

You see, I ALWAYS base my arguments on facts unlike you who bases his on half-cooked uninformed opinions.

Posted by Solid_Snake on (February 1, 2013, 10:17 GMT)

@@Harmony111->Noone is crying lol..What am i asking & where are you heading.Make as much fun as you want..Nobody cares.We are not Ranked 1 team.Our bowlers are not good,our Batsmen are bad.Pak might have lost every past series out there but still we cannot break the record of a team standing at Rank 1 & suddenly thrown back at its rightful place after an 8-0 thrashing.Noone is making fun of that horrible 2 series's of team India in such a short period of time & then that big 'REVENGE' series in which once again England did something that Fans wont forget ever.One should not make fun of these things.Australia is coming up ahead.More Whitewashes are on its way.This is cricket & such things could happend any time.It happened before that fans cried 'REVENGE REVENGE' but all they got was a defeat..Chill man enjoy the white washes :P

Posted by Solid_Snake on (February 1, 2013, 10:01 GMT)

@Harmony111->Lol..it's you who is crying.I asked you something & this is what you came up with.Make fun as much as you want but related to pak team.We dont mind.This is what we both neighbors are good at.But saying things that Pak fans said this & that about SA wont do any good..I am stalking different threads & i did not see any such post.I dont know in which thread you were roaming around.Imaginary self created Thread i guess in which you saw all Pak fans saying bad things about SA :D

Posted by Harmony111 on (February 1, 2013, 8:12 GMT)

@Desihungama: If only you had read other comments you would have seen how Pak fans (some/most) are demeaning SA. One poster for eg said that Amla/Kallis/ABD are walking wickets, Styen is overrated, Philander is useful only in the 1st 10 overs and that SA are mediocre when they play away.

I don't know how you see it but for me it shows how these Pak fans are treating SA team. Never again should you accuse me of making false accusations.

@Solid_Snake: And what were Pak fans doing in Ind-Eng fora making fun of Ind's #1 ranking and ODI win? What were they doing in saying that Eng were not at full strength when in fact even full strength Eng teams had lost 0-5, 0-5, 1-5 in the past? And now when Ind fans make solid points based on hardcore facts then you start complaining and crying? It only pleases us to see that you can't even come up with any good replies and are now crying buckets.

Posted by Solid_Snake on (February 1, 2013, 6:17 GMT)

@Desihungama->Pak fans know that the tour is the toughest for Pak.It's just that other non-Pak fans are flaming & posting everything which doesnt even concerns them.We Pak fans admire the hard work & past performances of SA team. Pak would be a tough opponent that i guarantee.Looking forward to have an exciting series.. Peace

Posted by Desihungama on (January 31, 2013, 23:59 GMT)

@Harmony - You said But what irks me & others is the way some (may be most) Pak fans here & elsewhere have been demeaning SA team and its players. Man, this is totally, absolutely false accusations and plain wrong. Right here on this board, SA fans will prove to you this is hardly the case and most Pak fans are absolutely knowledgeable about the game post sensible comments.

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (January 31, 2013, 23:23 GMT)

Good luck boys.. misbah is doing a great job.. infact both captains.. i like the honesty and commitment of this Pakistani team. there is no non-serious player in side now. I wish Umar Akmal can re-think his game and not follow his brother n stuuf as he is the most talented among them and he is just waisting himself.

Posted by omar_choudhary on (January 31, 2013, 22:57 GMT)

Pakistan Zindabad! Enough said...

PS- Smash those Proteas 3-0

Posted by Papa_Tango on (January 31, 2013, 22:38 GMT)

Win lose or draw, there is ALWAYS a theme of hatred by posters on these articles- ALWAYS. Supporters of SA or India or anyone can and should make their opinion k own, but why oh why the nasty, abusive language? Grow up everyone: you can make your points without coming across as trolls. Good luck pakistan, I hope they build on their recent form and do well, God willing.

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