Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has praised his team for saving both Tests against South Africa by batting well under pressure. Misbah himself played a prominent role in helping his team draw the matches, scoring three successive half-centuries, two of those in Pakistan's chases.
While the tracks in the two Tests in the UAE have come in for criticism, Misbah said they did offer some assistance to the spinners. "The pitch in Dubai was also turning for the spinners on the fourth and fifth day," he said. "But we were playing better cricket by batting well under pressure, and saved both the matches. The pitch was good for batting but you still need skills and patience to just play hard cricket and survive in Tests, and our boys showed that."
Misbah rescued Pakistan on the fifth day, from 66 for 3 after lunch, and batted positively, striking ten fours in his unbeaten 58. He was also involved in an unbeaten 97-run stand with Azhar Ali, who had starred in the first innings with 90. "We had one thing in mind and that was to stay at the wicket," Misbah said. "When the bad balls came we went after them but our focus was to stay at the wicket."
The performance of the youngsters stood out on this tour for Pakistan, with debutants Asad Shafiq and seamer Tanvir Ahmed scoring a half-century and picking up six wickets respectively. The experienced players, too, chipped in with Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq hitting form upon return to Test cricket after a long break.
"Competition [for places] is healthy, like we see with India and other teams," Misbah said. "We should not take it as added pressure. If anyone does not get a chance, we need to keep supporting them. They are our future players and we must back them at any cost."
Pakistan cricket is in troubled times in the aftermath of the spot-fixing controversy and wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider's shocking departure to London in the middle of the tour. Misbah said off-field events didn't affect the focus of the players. "I never felt that this team was demoralised," he said. "Their morale was up and they played with consistency and patience.
"The confidence [from the series] will help us play anywhere and it is a big boost for the self belief of the players."