Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has said day-night Tests are likely to be the future of cricket, just the way Twenty20s have gained popularity over ODIs in the last few years. Misbah also expressed reservations about the visibility of the pink ball, but said it would probably lead to "a fair competition between bat and ball".
"At the moment, it looks like [the future] keeping in mind the interest of the audience, who want to watch Test cricket," Misbah said a day before Pakistan's first day-night Test, against West Indies in Dubai. "After they [spectators] come from work, it's a good opportunity and you will see it mostly in future. Let's see how it goes with the pink ball, it's an experiment. First the one-day came, then Twenty20 came, so [day-night Test] is a good step to keep the Tests alive."
When asked about the pink ball in particular, Misbah's main concern related to the timing of the Test; he said the players would have to readjust to the pink ball once the lights come on later in the day. Misbah also did not hesitate to crack a joke, when asked if the pink ball needed more grass to survive on.
"The only difference is the different timing [of the matches], just the visibility because it's different for red ball and white ball," he said. "Maybe when the pink ball gets older, you have to look at it carefully as a batsman because it could be difficult at times [under lights]. You need to make a few adjustments here and there. Overall, it's good playing under lights also. It's not like it's terribly difficult for the batsmen. It's a fair competition between bat and ball.
"Maybe the pink ball survives on grassy pitches but we also have to make sure that we survive as a team," Misbah said with a laugh. "You look at your strengths and I believe that it's up to the team; the better team performs well in all conditions and that is the bottom line. I think if you are a good team, then you do well irrespective of the circumstances. Forget about the pink ball and lights, just go out and perform."
Pakistan had recently moved to No. 2 in the ICC Test rankings after drawing 2-2 in England, and rose to the top for the first time since the current ranking system was introduced when India's last Test in the West Indies was washed out. Now No. 2 again after India's home series win against New Zealand, Misbah said they would rather focus on the upcoming series against West Indies than the rankings.
"That's not important for us," Misbah said. "The most important thing is to do well; we are more attentive to our performance in this series. You can't take West Indies lightly because they are a young side and they have everything to prove and such a side is more motivated. We have done well in the last six years, did well on the England tour so the expectations are high."
Pakistan would, however, be without Younis Khan for the first Test as the batsman was advised 10 days of rest to recover from a bout of dengue fever. That would probably mean a debut for an in-form Babar Azam, who struck three straight centuries in the recent ODIs, and maybe a shuffle in the batting order too. Pakistan had already moved Azhar Ali to No. 3 during the England tour after Shoaib Malik's Test retirement last year, and tried Asad Shafiq ahead of Younis only for the fourth Test, in which Shafiq shone with a century.
"I think at the start it was tough, we had to do that in England and considering the conditions it was tough. Not only promoting Azhar but also Asad for No. 3," Misbah said. "Once we did that and it was successful, we know can do that again. It was a chance to bring in the fifth bowler and bring in a youngster at No. 7. I think a window has opened. I think opening and batting at No. 3 here is a good opportunity before the [upcoming away] New Zealand series, so it's an advantage to do this before a tough series and settle down on a structure and a balance.
"I think there could be no better time than this to make his Test debut," Misbah said of Azam. "He has played mature innings and has developed well. He has played well not only here but also in New Zealand and looks a good prospect. He is lucky to get a chance at this time, unfortunately because of Younis' absence due to ill health, but I think this is the best time."
Pakistan will be playing their 400th Test starting Thursday and Misbah said it would be a source of "motivation" for the players to make the historic match "memorable" for them.