Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd Test, SSC, Colombo June 29, 2012

Misbah wants Pakistan to start afresh


Pakistan have moved from one Sri Lankan fortress to another. The ramparts of the Galle fort provided the backdrop for the 209-run defeat in the first Test, and their next venue, in Colombo, is as intimidating for visiting teams because of Sri Lanka's record there in recent years.

If Pakistan are to level the series in the second Test, they will have do what no other team has done for eight years - win at the SSC. Since 1984, Sri Lanka have won 17 Tests and lost six here. Their last defeat was in 2004, when Ricky Ponting's Australia won by 121 runs to complete a 3-0 cleansweep. Sri Lanka haven't conceded a single Test since, winning six and drawing five.

Pakistan's record at the venue isn't bad either - they undefeated here. In 1994, the Test was called off before a ball was bowled because of the threat of post-election civil unrest. Pakistan's next match at the SSC was in 1997 - a high-scoring draw. Three years later, Sri Lanka were blown away by the pace of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, and the offspin of Arshad Khan. The 2006 contest had big centuries by Shoaib Malik and Kumar Sangakkara but there wasn't enough time for a result. Three years later, with the series already lost, Pakistan salvaged a draw.

Pakistan felt Misbah-ul-Haq's absence in Galle, both as a batsman and captain. His stodginess in the middle order was missed, as was his presence in the field, for his spinners seem to respond better to his fields. It simply wasn't Pakistan's or Mohammad Hafeez's match and it was made worse by the umpiring. Misbah, not the most expressive of captains, had simple advice for his side - wipe the slate clean.

"We have to forget the past and be positive going into the match," Misbah said. "This is how cricket goes, you just can't afford to remember the games you have lost. You have to give 100% in the next game."

The batting was a problem in Galle, with Hafeez, Azhar Ali and Taufeeq Umar failing. Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq found form, but a bit too late. Misbah, however, said it was a combination of factors that let Pakistan down.

"We let them [Sri Lanka] score nearly 500 and that put pressure on us. It's not just our batting, we need to improve our bowling as well," Misbah said. "It was Hafeez's first [Test] as captain, we were playing a Test after a long time. It takes time for any captain to settle down. Sri Lanka batted well too in Galle, a good hunting ground for them."

Misbah said Pakistan's second innings in Galle, which had 80s by Younis and Shafiq, was a sign that the batting was starting to click. "I am confident this batting line-up will come back hard," he said. "They need to remind themselves about the team's form over the last one and a half years and we will pull things back."

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fazle on June 30, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    Misbah should remain captain as long as he is eligible for selection in the team. His age is no barrier, the team needs him badly.

  • dani on June 30, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    @master raju--see what i meant ?? i was expecting good response from pak batting against kula n herath but this result is over-whelming...m still saying that if we get a result out of this pitch, it will b in pakistan's favor...lets see.

  • Praveen on June 30, 2012, 12:36 GMT

    @ all....I have a doubt friends, any one clarify me please. Is this the same Srilankan player Randiv playing in the test matches who has deliberately bowled a no-ball Sri Lanka v India, 3rd ODI, Dambulla on 16th Aug 2010 ( Another doubt is, whether his action is legal or not???

  • Sunny on June 30, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    I am sure many of the people who have commented to this article, will like to take their comments back, or re-write! MashaAllah a very impressive performance so far! And those already counting Pakistan out, let me just say that it's not about a win or a loss, but the frame of mind with which you approach the game; and Pakistan has shown very positive intent MA, and that's all that counts. God be with Pakistan, always...go Green....

  • Masudur on June 30, 2012, 4:01 GMT

    A good start is necessary for Pakistan.

  • Raheel on June 29, 2012, 21:41 GMT

    @Ahmed where are we gonna realize that when he is proving to good captain and winning series for Pakistan and he is batting well according to the situation we don't have to drop someone.. we cannot just afford to change the captain after every series or every year. simple rule u play well u and u will be in the team no matter of age...

  • Dummy4 on June 29, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    No disrespect to Misbah but he's really old now and should give the next generation a chance.

  • khurram on June 29, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    problems for pakistan: hafeez badly out of form, toufeq played after 4 months but last series vs england he failed badly as well, only younas & asad found some form. & more importantly there will again be ian gould " the experienced elite pannel Umpire " who was part of 16 wrong decisions in 4 days standing with no drs. so fingers crossed.

  • Prashan on June 29, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    Pakistan batting will click indeed at least for one innings. Hard to expect Pakistan batting to score less than 300 when Misbah plays but I doubt if Pakistan can win this test when the SSC pitch is dead.

  • dani on June 29, 2012, 17:33 GMT

    i agree with misbah...pak has to forget the defeat of last match to b positive..the only problem with this is that this team combination has never been tested for their positivity in last 2-3 yrs, coz they were enjoying the fruit of success most of the time they entered the lets see their mental toughness here....@master raju-i agree with u that herath n kulasekra hav good records against pak but it is my guess that apart from herath no other bowler will b a challenge to pak is true that pak batsmen r not good against swing but i believe that for the following two reasons pak will b able to handle kulasekra-firstly pak batting were clearly caught by surprise by kulasekra's they will b ready for him...secondly the 'calming' factor (misbah) is back in team so our batsmen will surely b more attentive in this match.....if this pitch gave us a result, m expecting a match in pak favour.... may the best team wins !!

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