Misbah encouraged by youngsters' show
Since taking over as Pakistan captain in mid-2010 when the team was in disarray after the spot-fixing scandal, Misbah-ul-Haq has converted the side into a powerful Test outfit. Pakistan drew or won the next seven series, but Sri Lanka have finally handed Misbah his first Test series defeat as captain.
"A loss is a loss and whenever you have a lost a series, it's not good for the team," Misbah said, after the draw in Pallekele that confirmed a 1-0 series defeat. "We were hoping for a better result after we lost the first game. Everybody tried well, the team fought hard but then you may say that we were not lucky enough to win again. That happens, but I am really happy with the effort that everybody put in."
Despite the defeat, Misbah wasn't too downcast. "The positive is the way the young guys have performed. A plus for us is the way Asad Shafiq batted; Azhar Ali is becoming a real strong lad for us. In difficult situations both these players performed well for us. The way Adnan Akmal played today with a fractured finger is a good sign. Junaid Khan is a big plus. After the first game Hafeez's form became good, he batted well with Taufeeq Umar."
Misbah had a special word of praise for Junaid, who got the ball to move both ways and troubled Sri Lanka's batsmen throughout the series. "It wasn't easy especially on the SSC wicket and on this wicket also after the first day it was almost flat. The way he bowled, his bowling sense, was really good. He bowls his outswingers and inswingers to the batsmen and surprises them with bouncers sometimes. It's good to have this sort of bowler in the side especially on wickets that are not suited for him. He's a big find for us."
Junaid ended with 14 wickets in the series, a contrast to his fast bowling colleagues, Umar Gul, Aizaz Cheema and Mohammad Sami, who collectively could pick up only two wickets. "We have to look for some others to really help us in the fast bowling department," Misbah said. "Unfortunately it wasn't a good series for other fast bowlers they were a bit unlucky they could not just pick wickets, that's why we could not finish the Test matches. We have to improve our bowling department and our catching. We were not good even in the one-day series and even in the Test series."
When asked whether there would be any backlash back home because Pakistan had lost the series, Misbah said, "You can't control it, there are some guys who are always looking for negatives, but I am really happy the way the team fought back. Winning and losing is part of the game, we were really nowhere in the first game. There is a psychological advantage for our team we played both the last two games with real good control. It's a real positive for me, [though] I don't how the people feel about that."