India-Pak bigger than Ashes: Misbah
The Twenty20 Internationals are over and now it’s time for the longer one-day format. As Misbah-ul-Haq takes over the reins of the Pakistan team from Mohammad Hafeez, he expects the boys to play a similar brand of cricket they did in the shortest format.
“For the first time Pakistan is playing good cricket without any pressure, and when we left for India this was our main goal. In ODIs too we will try to express ourselves and play freely,” Misbah said ahead of the first ODI, in Chennai.
Another thing that Pakistan’s ODI captain wants to see being carried forward from the T20Is is Hafeez’s form with the bat. He scored half-centuries in both matches batting at No.3. Now that Hafeez returns to his original opening position, Misbah is hopeful he can get the team off to great starts.
“His contribution will be very important for us,” Misbah said of Hafeez. “It’s crucial for the openers to be in good form to set a solid base for the team. The confidence and the strike-rate with which Hafeez has played, is very commendable. He’s middling the ball very well. He will play a key role for us in this series.”
Along with Hafeez, Shoaib Malik too played a critical knock to see Pakistan home in the first T20I in Bengaluru. That unbeaten knock of 57 was enough for the Pakistan selectors to add Malik in the ODI squad as well.
Adding further experience to the batting department, Younis Khan too joins the team for the ODIs. Misbah believes the veteran batsman’s previous performances against the neighbours will help him enlighten the younger lot.
“India-Pakistan are high pressure games and Younis Khan is someone who has done well against India over the years. He knows exactly what the demands are when you’re playing against India in India. The younger players can benefit from his experience and guidance. Not only is his contribution crucial with the bat, but also when it comes to giving advice to the youngsters,” Misbah said.
While Misbah pointed out that this is a special occasion to come to India for a bilateral series after five years, he also appealed for more matches between the two sides.
“These two countries should play against each other regularly. The two T20Is showed how important this series is for world cricket. Everyone knows that India-Pakistan is always a big series,” he said, terming the India-Pakistan encounters more exciting than the Ashes rivalry. “The followers of this series are more than those of the Ashes.”
Besides the exciting cricket, an India-Pakistan contest is rife with on-field aggression, which at times, culminates into a heated banter. Misbah urged players from both teams to avoid such altercations and show aggression with their cricketing skills.
“Your aggression should come to the fore in form of your performance. My message to all the players would be that if you want to show aggression, show it by bowling a 150kmph delivery, scoring big runs, taking a brilliant catch or affecting a good run-out. You can say anything to anyone, but at the end it’s the performance that matters,” said the Pakistan captain.