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August 13, 2014
Misbah-ul-Haq has said Pakistan are ready to square off against Sri Lanka and insisted that his team is capable of bouncing back hard. Pakistan haven't won a series since beating England 3-0 in the UAE in 2012 and after the Galle defeat last week are facing another winless series.
"We did play well [in Galle] but we weren't consistent," Misbah said at the pre-match press conference in Colombo. "We played well in patches and lacked the consistency in every department so what we are going to do is to ensure we are on our toes in every session. Our batsmen did score runs in the first innings and are still in form and in good shape. There are things that need to be improved and we will ensure that we will go hard to pull this one our way."
In Sharjah earlier this year Pakistan, who were trailing 1-0 in the three-match series, came back hard to beat Sri Lanka and square the series 1-1. Pakistan are looking to repeat that here, by starting the Test afresh and forgetting the result of the first Test. "Every game is a new game regardless what happened in the previous game so we are looking forward to win this one to level the series," Misbah said.
"We obviously need to improve in every department as there is always room for it. We are concentrating on the present and forget what was in the past, whether it was good or bad, because after all we have a new day ahead with a new game that will be entirely different. I think this time we will ensure that we are on the money throughout the game."
Mahela Jayawardene will retire from Test cricket after the second Test at the SSC, where he has scored 2863 runs in 26 Tests, the most by any batsman at a single ground. He averages 77.37 with 11 hundreds, including his highest score of 374 against South Africa in 2006. His record against Pakistan isn't dazzling but Pakistan are still wary of him.
"Plan against Jayawardene is simple," Misbah said. "Get him out as soon as possible and spoil their party. But at the same time we know how good he can be at his home ground. He is a class player and particularly at his own ground he is a different man. He has scored ample runs and he could be dangerous, so as a team we obviously would want to take him down."
Pakistan are traditionally known for their bowling strength but the attack struggled to take wickets at Galle. Misbah admitted this played some part in their defeat but wasn't too concerned. "We shouldn't blame our bowlers as it is about the conditions, as it happens when you have purely batting conditions. And Sri Lanka are well aware of their home conditions and similarly the conditions in UAE are quite close, so this is the reason I think when you are playing in the hands of batsmen and the bowlers struggle."
In Galle, Misbah underbowled left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, who only sent down 39 overs in the first innings compared to 59.1 from Saeed Ajmal. Rehman didn't bowl at all in Sri Lanka's second innings. "There is no particular reason or strategy not to bowl with Rehman," Misbah said. "It is all about when a team is already doing well with one of their best bowlers so we have to go with it. He wasn't at his best of rhythm so that is the only reason I didn't bowl him otherwise he is a very good bowler."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalsonFeeds: Umar Farooq
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