Pakistan news May 18, 2012

Recent record gives Pakistan edge over Sri Lanka - Misbah

Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan's Test and ODI captain, has said that his team's recent record against Sri Lanka gives it the edge leading into the tour slated for June and July.

"Sri Lanka is always a difficult team to play against, especially in their back yard," Misbah said on the sidelines of Pakistan's preparatory camp in Lahore. "Obviously we have to be at our best in all departments, because they always come hard at the opposition. But our record against them gives us the upper hand, and our confidence level is high."

In their last series against Sri Lanka, in the UAE in October-November 2011, Pakistan won in all three formats. In the three-Test series, they won 1-0, took the ODIs 4-1 and won the one-off Twenty20. They also beat Sri Lanka in the one game the teams played against each other in the Asia Cup in March. However, the previous time the two teams played in Sri Lanka, Pakistan lost the Tests 2-0 and the one-dayers 3-2.

Misbah said Pakistan's improvements on the fielding and fitness fronts would help them this time around. "I think we have shown a lot of improvement in fielding and fitness in last couple of years," he said. "Every coach in the past, whether it was Waqar Younis and Ijaz Ahmed, everyone did a good job [with those disciplines] and now Julien [Fountain, the fielding coach] is doing a great job."

For the Sri Lanka tour, Pakistan have picked specialist players in each format, meaning Misbah has missed out in the Twenty20 squad, and the captaincy was handed over to Mohammad Hafeez. Misbah reiterated that he will be available in the shortest format, should Pakistan require him.

"It [Twenty20] is a format that is widely played in the world and I will keep on playing it," he said. "As far as [ending] my international career is concerned, I think that decision has to be taken by the PCB."

"Obviously the burden on me has been eased, and I can now focus on two formats. But if you are enjoying playing cricket, you can easily cope with it [playing all three formats too]."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent