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Misbah calls for better plans on slow pitches

Misbah-ul-Haq sweeps AFP

Pakistan's bowlers conceded more records than the number of wickets they picked up in the Bangladesh second innings in Khulna - the hosts made the most runs they ever have in a Test, Tamim Iqbal's 206 is their new highest individual score, and his 312-run partnership with Imrul Kayes broke a 55-year old record for the most runs added by an opening pair in the second innings.

The Khulna pitch was expected to deteriorate after the fourth day but early morning rain on Thursday had helped hold it together and the bowlers were unable to make much headway.

Pakistan had won every Test they played against Bangladesh in the last 14 years, but had to settle for a draw this time. They had a first-innings lead of 296 runs against the ninth-ranked Test team, which led to questions over whether the result was as good as a loss, but their captain Misbah-ul-Haq dismissed the notion.

"Obviously with such a lead you want to win the game but sometimes the opposition also plays well and you have to appreciate them for such a strong comeback," he said, "You can't say that we made mistakes, but it was definitely disappointing that we weren't able to produce the result [we wanted]. We had planned for a win but the [Bangladesh] openers outclassed us on the fourth day. All credit to them, they saved the Test in those last two sessions, counterattacking with 273 runs in 61 overs. That opening partnership was the game changer."

Misbah, however, conceded that his bowlers need to adapt to sluggish pitches better. "We had a lead of almost 300 in the first innings and regardless of any sort of pitch we should have put them under pressure. We have to ensure bowlers control their lines and need to plan better against good players.

"It was a slow track and batsman enjoyed batting here. Credit should be given to those who scored big here. Both Tamim and Imrul enjoyed batting here and it was a tough wicket to bowl on. Our bowlers struggled bowling in such a slow track, but regardless of any pitch, you have to have bowl with discipline. We definitely need to improve our performance especially with the ball."

It had taken 454 balls for Pakistan to break Tamim and Kayes' mammoth stand. The last time they had to wait so long for the first wicket was in 2006 when Chris Gayle and Darren Ganga batted for 372 deliveries in Multan.

Yet Pakistan's fast bowlers had kept good lines through the day, tried different lengths, and even reverse swung the ball but wickets remained hard to come by. The first time Junaid Khan bowled to Tamim on Saturday, he had the batsman falling over as a result of an inswinging yorker. Left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar broke the Tamim-Kayes stand, in the 76th over, but had given away 132 runs in 32 overs. His spin partner Yasir Shah sported an economy of 4.10 after 30 overs. So Misbah went to his part-time bowlers Asad Shafiq, who claimed a maiden Test wicket, and Azhar Ali.

"On a track like that they [bowlers] really tried hard," Misbah said. "They created chances but luck wasn't on our side. It happens in Test cricket. The wicket kept playing better and better with every day that passed. We were expecting that it may deteriorate but it remained even throughout."