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.

Posted by   on (January 31, 2013, 21:34 GMT)

The point to note in this situation is Pakistan has always had amazing fast bowlers but if you go back to the past 20 years - since SA's readmission, accomplished absolutely nothing in both South Africa and also Australia. The teams of the past included the magnificent Akram, Waqar and Shoaib and what do they have to show? I think the drawback with the Pakistan team is their lack of cohesiveness and lack of planning and execution. I am not too sure how much that has changed. Pakistan batting is full of rookies with no experience in SA conditions. I remember Pakistan in Australia 2000 [that famous match where Gilchrist and Langer won that gem. That Pak team included Akram, Waqar and Shoaib. Need I say more?? Potential looks good on paper, performance is the real thing.

Posted by DeckChairand6pack on (January 31, 2013, 20:35 GMT)

I'm looking forward to seeing Irfan. Pace and bounce are not enough as Dale and Morne found at the beginning of their careers. They have had to learn their craft after indifferent starts to their careers. Anyway, the Pakistanis have other good bowling options but I would be surprised if he does not play.

Posted by Harmony111 on (January 31, 2013, 20:07 GMT)

Posted by s-holmes on (January 31 2013, 15:51 PM GMT)

"...As far as South Africa is concerned its a great team, difficult to beat at home, but as medoicre as any other team playing overseas...."

Really? While SA may or may not be the stronger or the strongest team in YOUR eyes, records show that SA have won TWICE IN AUS & TWICE IN ENG in the last 4 tours there + have won a series in India too and haven't lost there since then. But I am sure you would still say SA are AS MEDIOCRE AS ANY OTHER TEAM PLAYING OVERSEAS.

In fact, quite opposite to your comment, paradoxically SA are rather relatively more beatable at home than away. But that doesn't mean much good news for Pak. They are gonna lose 0-3 if it doesn't rain.

Posted by Harmony111 on (January 31, 2013, 19:57 GMT)

Nothing is wrong in making claims before a series starts. Nothing is wrong in talking your team up cos you want to project a strong persona. Nothing is wrong in saying to the opposition that we will mince-meat you. All those who do it are justified and on that count Pak fans beating their chests here is ok and in fact makes it exciting. We don't want boring chess like situations where every 3 minutes a move is made nonchalantly.

But what irks me & others is the way some (may be most) Pak fans here & elsewhere have been demeaning SA team and its players. It is one thing to say SA will be unable to handle Gul & JK but it is insulting when Pak fans say Kallis/Amla/ABD are walking wickets or that Steyn is an over-rated bowler.

If Pak fans believe their team is the best in the world then its their right to be wrong and deluded but even that would be ok. What is not ok is to belittle the other team and mock at it.

SA have been very dignified all through. Will payback 4-0 to Pak in 3 tests

Posted by Beertjie on (January 31, 2013, 19:47 GMT)

A little less hype and more precision, please Firdose: "South Africa have not lost a series at home in five years, since they were beaten by Australia in 2009." By my calculation the 2009 defeat was 3 years and 10 months ago! "Before that, England triumphed over them in 2004." No mention of the home 0-3 whitewash to Australia in 2006?

Posted by Harmony111 on (January 31, 2013, 19:10 GMT)

Nothing is wrong in making claims before a series starts. Nothing is wrong in talking your team up cos you want to project a strong persona. Nothing is wrong in saying to the opposition that we will mince-meat you. All those who do it are justified and on that count Pak fans beating their chests here is ok and in fact makes it exciting. We don't want boring chess like situations where every 3 minutes a move is made nonchalantly.

But what irks me & others is the way some (may be most) Pak fans here & elsewhere have been demeaning SA team and its players. It is one thing to say SA will be unable to handle Gul & JK but it is insulting when Pak fans say Kallis/Amla/ABD are walking wickets or that Steyn is an over-rated bowler.

If Pak fans believe their team is the best in the world then its their right to be wrong and deluded but even that would be ok. What is not ok is to belittle the other team and mock at it.

SA have been very dignified all through. Will payback 4-0 to Pak in 3 tests

Posted by davidatlas999 on (January 31, 2013, 18:53 GMT)

@Sinhaya its really simple why they are calling misbah tuk tuk cause we pakistani love some one who dont deserve it.we love for those who lost alot of matches for us but he just hit a six in the match on matter we won or lose we want some one like afredi no matter how much misbah win for us throw his hard work we will give totally credit to some one who played really poor hit just prove people i am still a hero.

Posted by immi2711 on (January 31, 2013, 18:52 GMT)

most indians (not all), in this forum are praying for a Pakistan thrashing by SA. I cant understand what would drive you to this level of hatred, and rain on Pak parade. EXCEPT, deep down inside, you know know Pak is definitely a better cricket product, and you are still wounded from the loss a month ago. Which I think is not a big deal, becos you have won your fare share of matches..soooo why hating? You can be critical and explain y Pakistan could loose. I think Pak has a good chance of beating SA, Overall, yesss SA is putting a better team on the field, but Pak has a few short range missiles, that can bring some destruction at the right time. Both Jamshed, Hafeez, Misbah, Younis , can score, yes we dont have ABD type of a batsman who can score quickly, Afridi had the chance, but his head got too big for Pak. Bowling, Junaid/Irfan/Ajmal/hafeez/Gul (maybe) can easily disrupt the batting lineup.so lets not count us out. This will really prove how good either team is. No points for #2

Posted by Crick_Expert on (January 31, 2013, 17:57 GMT)

PAK Team should be as; 1.Jamshed 2.Hafeez 3.Younus 4.Azhar 5.Haris 6.Misbah 7.Sarfaraz 8.Gul 9.Saeed 10.Junaid 11.Irfan

Posted by da_man_ on (January 31, 2013, 17:47 GMT)

Sinhaya, it is the Pakistani psyche where Umar Akmals and Afridis are unfortunately always higher rated than the Misbahs. We seem to prefer watching squandered talent rather than an Azhar Ali trying to squeeze every ounce out of his talent through hard work and perseverance.

@gsingh7, given we haven't played tests in six months, given we haven't played at home in over three years, and given how the team has not once bickered or complained about these facts, as a cricket lover how can you wish this team ill? I've said it before, I'll say it again, in cricket we're a pretty small family as it is. Let's not treat the Pak team like a stepchild and lose a cricket nation with great history. I urge you to return to the India pages, and not spew your hatred on this forum.

Posted by   on (January 31, 2013, 17:40 GMT)

Pak bowling is firing but i hope its not MISBAH VS SA in batting. Good luck PAK team. I hope the contest will be thrilling!!!

Posted by azhar_hassan on (January 31, 2013, 17:26 GMT)

Well the big test for Pakistan begins tomorrow. They should compete well in the bowling department and if the batting can contribute, who knows. SA start out as clear favorites being the #1 test team & playing in home conditions. Looking forward to an interesting series.

Posted by a.syed81 on (January 31, 2013, 17:21 GMT)

Breaking News: Asad Shafiq also gets injured as his finger is hurt during practice.

Posted by Shan156 on (January 31, 2013, 17:16 GMT)

"Irfan has the potential of being better than Morkel as far as pace and bounce is concerned. Junaid & Gul can be as good as Styen & Philander. "

lol, and pigs can fly:-)

Steyn, Philander, and Morkel are among the world's top 3 pacemen and their test record bears testimony to that. Irfan, Gul, Junaid are good and I understand you are not suggesting they are as good as or better than the SA trio but still... Irfan is yet to make his debut and in ODIs he averages nearly 70 with an economy of 5.42, Umar Gul has played 45 tests and averages 34, Junaid Khan has been good in his 8 tests but let's give him some time before claiming that he can be as good as Steyn. If an Eng/Ind fan suggests anything remotely close like this, we are scoffed as people who hype their players but Pak. fans feel free to write such drivel.

Pak. will be hammered. Remember, this is not UAE. If there were a test in Durban, then SA would have lost it but since they don't play there this time, it is 3-0 to SA.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (January 31, 2013, 17:10 GMT)

tuk tuk means. playing test cricket in T2020. just too slow. like gavasker or hanif muhammad playing T2020. very very slow. and also he did not deliver the victories in any T2020 he played and stayed till the end to make sure we lose. he was the worse T2020 cricketer ever.

Posted by pauliangenius on (January 31, 2013, 16:59 GMT)

plz play Tanvir Ahmed.. he will devastate SA

Posted by Sinhaya on (January 31, 2013, 16:28 GMT)

At all Pakistani fans, I have a question to ask you all and your response will be greatly appreciated and thanks in advance. Why is Misbah being nicknamed tuktuk? I am curious to know. I wish Misbah all the very best on this tour as if he loses, he will be under lot of pressure to quit. His safety first approach has simply helped Pakistan lose only just 1 test since he tookover from captaincy as that loss was all due to umpiring and hang on, Hafeez was the captain in it.

Posted by voyager on (January 31, 2013, 16:19 GMT)

Just fighting well as a team (winning will be icing on the cake) will confirm Misbah's stature as one of the finest Pakistan captain, to me his contribution in bringing competitiveness and respect back to Pakistan team is immense.

Series like these are similar in importance (if not more) than WC. As a cricket and Pakistan supporter all I want is fight! Match blow with blow! Don't give up. Pakistan's batting is being rightly mentioned as key to having a closely fought series or a one side series, but one thing that I have not seen mentioned is Pakistan's fielding. Whenever Pakistan or any team for that matter take all important catches they mostly win matches, one can imagine the impact of dropping any SA top order batsmen early in their innings. Pakistan especially will need to watch out for that as ball comes differently to fielder as well on fast and bouncy tracks.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (January 31, 2013, 16:07 GMT)

The media and administrators might be interested in rubbish like Smith's birthday, but as an SA supporter I don't know anyone who is underestimating Pakistan. I think our players also have a lot of respect for Pakistan, who always produce talented players. Can't wait for it to start.

Posted by Umms on (January 31, 2013, 16:02 GMT)

SA is a better team on any given day. Pak team play with lot of passion, but test matches dont win you the game with passion. You have to play solid three sessions per day to be in the game and you have to do it every day till the match lasts. SA have this capability but PAK have the ability only in periods. If Pak batsmen score and play well to Styen, Morkel and Peterson its is going to be a good series, if not Pak will lose 2-0. Also if SA is taking PAK seriously then Pakistan team should be proud of what they have acheived so far post spot fixing.

Posted by   on (January 31, 2013, 16:02 GMT)

A wise man once said "If you are talking about us in the face or behind our backs, it just means our life is more interesting than yours" and that is exactly what the indians are doing here. I cannot read one article about Pakistan cricket without seeing that the indians are commenting on it. Well what have they got to look forward to with their team at the moment?, so they're interested in Pakistan. Anyway I think Pakistan will give SA a hard time. I know everyone "(indians)" are hoping for a 3-0, but I think Pakistan will at least win 1 test or even draw the series. SA struggles against bowlers they've not faced..... Like Misbah says "We have got some other surprises as well"......

Posted by s-holmes on (January 31, 2013, 15:51 GMT)

Firdose - FYI, Misbah's Pakistan beat England 3-0 in a test series last yea in UAE, when England was number 1 ranked. As far as South Africa is concerned its a great team, difficult to beat at home, but as medoicre as any other team playing overseas. In addition, we are still waiting for them to lift a trophy. In fact, I don't think they made it to the semis of either of the last ODI or T20 World Cups. Pakistan played in the semis for both. As for South Africa's bowling, its good but not great. These are the same bowlers who were hit all over the park by Pakistani batsmen in UAE and then later in T20s as wel recentlyl. So yes they are good at home but elsewhere pretty average - don't know how a one-dimensional bowling attack can be rated as the 'best'. I hope its a great contest and we see some quality cricket. Cheers!

Posted by Resultpredictor on (January 31, 2013, 15:40 GMT)

Biggest test of Misbah's captaincy. If Pakistan batsman can put up a decent score on the board then it will be close fought series. Saeed Ajmal will be trump card for Pakistan. Best of luck to both the teams.

Posted by Sports4Youth on (January 31, 2013, 15:35 GMT)

SA may be favorites for some good reasons. But SA being the no.1 ranked team should not matter too much for Paksitan because when they beat England in the UAE, even they were no.1. However, the fact that this time Pakistan are not playing in Asian type pitches is something different but even that should not matter too much for them because Pakistan also have a good amount of fire power in their bowling department. Also Saaed Ajmal is the best spinner in the world as of today and that is by a mile in comparison to Petersen. Irfan has the potential of being better than Morkel as far as pace and bounce is concerned. Junaid & Gul can be as good as Styen & Philander.

Pakistan's batting this time is definately better than the earler teams, though the surface may be defferent for them. Sarfraz will give an added advantage in the batting that Pakistan has been missing in the last 4/5 years.

.

Posted by khurramsch on (January 31, 2013, 14:58 GMT)

good luck. all as fan we want proper fighting cricket and yes SA is strong and playing at home but if pakistan show good fight and some skill that will make this series interesting .

Posted by mahjut on (January 31, 2013, 14:45 GMT)

I genuinely wish them well - but, as a saffer supporter - i hope they don't do well enough to win. I just hope (and expect) this to be a good, tight contest. Looking forward to it!

Posted by smalishah84 on (January 31, 2013, 14:41 GMT)

good luck Misbah and team. Our prayers are with you guys.

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 31, 2013, 14:24 GMT)

Heard a lot about this new kid from U19 Pak team. Will he get to play?

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