Pakistan news March 26, 2013

'We need to improve a lot' - Misbah

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has called the results of the South Africa series a disappointment and accepted that his team needed significant improvements. He was speaking after the Pakistan side returned home from a two-month tour of South Africa. Pakistan lost the ODI series by 3-2 and Test series by 3-0, though the team managed to win the two-match Twenty20 series 1-0, after the first match was washed out.

The biggest concern for Pakistan has been the batting as no batsman proved consistent enough. The team reached South Africa 10 days ahead of the first Test to get used to the conditions but struggled to find their feet. They lost the first Test by 211 runs, the second by four wickets and the third by an innings and 18 runs with batting regularly failing against a top-quality South Africa attack. In ODIs, they performed a bit better but remained inconsistent with Misbah being the top scorer for Pakistan, collecting 227 runs at 56.75.

"The tour was disappointing," Misbah said, on arriving at the Lahore airport. "We struggled throughout the Test series and it's an alarming situation, we need to improve a lot in various aspects. We couldn't do much in the Test series but recovered well and were better in the one-dayers. We played irresponsible shots and we need to address our batting problems."

Several of Pakistan's key players couldn't deliver. Mohammad Hafeez was clueless against Dale Steyn, Shahid Afridi was erratic, Younis Khan failed in the limited-overs matches and Umar Gul was below his best. Hafeez managed to score 43 in six Test innings, and 118 in five ODIs, Younis scored 184 in the Tests and 116 in ODIs while Afridi, who was picked as a legspinner failed to take a wicket, though he clubbed 126 runs in the ODIs.

Misbah, however, refused to single out any particular player and left it to the concerned authorities to pass judgement on the performances ahead of the Champions Trophy. "Everyone has seen who did what (in South Africa) but it's the board and the selectors who will gauge the performances of the players and they will look into the future."

Responding to a question, Misbah brushed aside any off-the-field clash that affected the team in South Africa. "There was nothing like that (in-rift) and it isn't a reason for the performance. We should accept that they were the better side and played better than us and at the end of the day, they won."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here

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