'Need to stop Jayawardene' - Misbah
Misbah-ul-Haq has said that Pakistan will need to keep a check on Mahela Jayawardene's scoring in the upcoming two-match Test series in Sri Lanka. The series will be Jayawardene's swansong from Tests.
"If we are to win the series in Sri Lanka, we have to ensure that their top batsmen, particularly Jayawardene, are not allowed to get many runs," Misbah said on his departure from Karachi. "I have a lot of respect for what he has achieved but we are going to Sri Lanka to win the two-Test series and we know how important it is for us to not allow their senior players to score."
Pakistan last won a Test series in Sri Lanka in 2006. That was also the last time they won a Test in Sri Lanka. They have toured the country twice since then. In those two unsuccessful tours, Jayawardene managed 267 runs from 12 innings at an average of 26.70. However, the Pakistan bowlers were made to toil by Kumar Sangakkara, who amassed 821 runs at an average of 102.62 in the six Tests.
"It is going to be a tough series because Sri Lanka have been playing lot of Test and other cricket. But we have prepared hard and I have confidence in our bowlers," Misbah said.
Saeed Ajmal was the second-highest wicket-taker over those two tours with 29 wickets, only one behind Rangana Herath, and will have the onus of leading the bowling group on the spin-friendly pitches in Galle and Colombo.
"Our spinners have traditionally done well in Sri Lanka but we are banking on our pace bowlers as well," Misbah said.
Pakistan have not won a Test series under Misbah's leadership since beating England 3-0 in 2012 in the UAE, and he will be nearly 41 when the 2015 World Cup arrives, but the captain said he wasn't thinking too far ahead. "I just want to focus on the match at the moment because that is important. No one knows what will happen after one day so why think about the World Cup," he said. "I take it one match at a time and carry on from there. And I am under no pressure because of the captaincy debate."