Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Harare August 27, 2013

'We misread the pitch' - Misbah

ESPNcricinfo staff

Misbah-ul-Haq has admitted he "misread the pitch" at the Harare Sports Club in their seven-wicket loss to Zimbabwe in the first ODI. Misbah had won the toss and elected to bat on what he thought would be a good pitch for the team batting first.

Even though they were cruising at just under five-runs per over till the 38th over with eight wickets in hand, they only managed 244. Pakistan won both Twenty20s last week on the same ground after batting first after they lost the toss on both the occasions.

"We misread the pitch. It was looking like it was going to be slow in the second innings, but I think it was slow in the first innings and played better in the second," Misbah said.

Misbah gave Zimbabwe the credit for chasing a competitive target of 245 with 10 balls to spare. Their top order scored nearly three-fourths of the runs and handled Pakistan's spinners deftly as Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi went wicketless.

"I think Zimbabwe really deserved it," Misbah said. "They played really well and played better than us. Specially the way their openers batted, there was no panic in their batting line-up and they did it comfortably. The way they bowled and batted, they really took the game away from us. They are a much improved side, especially in home conditions, they are a better side. I think we have to go back and think where we went wrong to really improve our batting, bowling and fielding."

Misbah stated that their total of 244 was not enough and that their bowling and fielding let them down. Pakistan fielded five bowlers, but their bowling struggled as they failed to break Zimbabwe's opening partnership.

"I don't think it [244] was enough, you can't say it was a fighting total on this pitch," he said. "Maybe we fell 30 runs short. Still, you need to bowl and field very well but we were missing something in the bowling line-up, especially with the new ball and our fielding wasn't up to the standards.

"Opening bowlers are our strength - both of them [Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan] give us breakthroughs in the first 10 overs with the new ball, but we were struggling and not getting wickets at the top so that is where we are missing [something]. I think it is really important to get wickets at the top to put the opposition under pressure."

Pakistan are not playing a second-string side on this tour, the way India did earlier this month when they were led by Virat Kohli, even though they play South Africa and Sri Lanka later this year. Misbah defended the selectors' decision of naming a full-strength squad for the current tour instead of giving youngsters a chance.

"In Pakistan people feel that we should win these matches and a lot of people were saying that you should try youngsters and this and that," he said. "Almost 60% of the players are already new in this team, they are just making their way into international cricket, they are playing regularly at the moment. This team is already relatively new and we played with our full strength. We got the team here, we played with our full strength and we lost.

"I think we have to change this psyche because in international cricket all the teams are good enough. And specially if you are playing in their own conditions, you need to be 100% focused and you need to be 100%. Otherwise, if you give them just a little bit of chance, they can do these sort of upsets. We need to just come back strongly and play our A game, our best game then you can really win these games."

The remaining two ODIs of the series will be played on Thursday and Saturday on the same ground before the two-Test series starts next month.