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Misbah encouraged by Pakistan's Test future

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Arnold: Yasir Shah will get better and better (2:01)

Russel Arnold reckons Yasir Shah is showing good signs of becoming a good legspinner and Sarfraz Ahmed reads the conditions very well and plays clever cricket (2:01)

Pakistan's ten-wicket win in Galle was their 123rd Test victory and their first in Sri Lanka for nine years. It took them past India as the subcontinent's most successful Test side, an achievement Misbah-ul-Haq said was great, especially because the result was built on the performances of the less-experienced players in the team.

Sarfraz Ahmed's 96 off 86 balls wrested the first-innings advantage from Sri Lanka, Asad Shafiq's hundred consolidated the lead, and legspinner Yasir Shah's career-best 7 for 76 knocked over the hosts, leaving Misbah's team with a straightforward run chase on the final day.

"It's good to have youngsters performing, that actually takes away the pressure from us [Younis Khan and himself]," Misbah said. "This is the future we are building with these youngsters and these players are coming of age now to take the team ahead. Sarfraz is a key player, Azhar [Ali] is performing in the top, and the way Sarfraz and Asad played it further stamps our faith in them.

"It's just a start for Yasir, look the way he has performed to step up and become Pakistan main bowler and to contribute in Pakistan's victories. So we are getting a good bunch that is grabbing every opportunity and applying themselves as a unit. The batting line-up is now getting mature and performing consistently. So overall it's a great win."

The Test started with four sessions lost to rain, after which Sri Lanka made 300 and then reduced Pakistan to 96 for 5. It was late on the third day that Sarfraz and Shafiq began their match-winning alliance with Pakistan facing the prospect of a follow-on. They added 139 runs in 31.4 overs to turn the game. Misbah said that Pakistan were always looking to force a win.

"Actually we were positive right from the start to win this," Misbah said. "But when one and half days were wasted without play, we got the only opportunity to win this by winning the toss, bowling first and getting them out as early as we could.

"The thought behind every move was eventually to win this match and not just go with the flow. They scored well in the first innings, but once we managed to go beyond 400 and take an ample lead, we never looked back. So after all it's a great feeling to win this in Galle, especially after losing the previous three Tests here."

In 2014, Pakistan lost 23 wickets to Rangana Herath alone and were blanked 2-0 in the two-Test series. Before this tour began, Misbah said the result would depend heavily on how Pakistan played spin and they adopted an attacking approach against Herath. They scored 129 runs off him for only one wicket.

"That was the key for us," Misbah said. "Good thing that everybody was using their feet, playing him confidently and keeping his wicket column empty. That's really a good sign for us because he is a very good bowler could have done a lot more. But we were working to tackle him for the last three or four months and it eventually worked. We need to keep this going in the coming Test matches because he is a tough competitor capable of doing anything, so we really have to concentrate on what we have planned against him."

The weak links for Pakistan in this Test were the form of Junaid Khan - wicketless in 23 overs - and the openers failing in the first innings. Misbah, however, was not fussed. "It's not a big issue because these guys have been playing for long now. They have scored a lot of runs recently and now everybody is into the centuries. Hafeez scored a double-hundred recently in Bangladesh and Shshzad also has enough hundreds to keep him going. We have confidence in them.

"For Junaid, I think it's natural after coming from major (knee) injury. It takes time when you are out for some time and are trying to get settled, which is a natural process. In this Test, some of his spells were good enough for him to gain the momentum. It's not like we are losing confidence in him after he didn't take wickets. Going into the next Test, we will see tactically if he still is in our plan or not, but we do have full confidence in him otherwise he wouldn't have travelled with us."

Apart from Wahab Riaz, who was superb with his short-pitched bowling, Yasir restated his value to the Pakistan side. "He is giving us a good advantage, especially on these pitches where other spinners are not getting any sort of spin. He was the difference with the kind of turn and bounce he was getting. Seven wickets against an opponent who is good against spin is something that speaks a lot. He is doing well and improving with every game he is playing.

"To became one of the greats, I think he still has to improve a lot. He might be performing well in Asian conditions but there are a lot more tests ahead of him when he will be abroad, like in England and Australia, but at the moment he is bowling tremendously."