100% record boosts Misbah's confidence
Having resumed bilateral cricketing ties with India after four years, Pakistan are looking to go home with a series win under their belt. With a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series, the visitors have put themselves in a position of strength to achieve that goal.
Ahead of the second ODI, at the Eden Gardens, Pakistan ODI skipper Misbah-ul-Haq iterated how pumped up they are to put the trophy in their bag with a match to spare.
“It’s very important for us to win this series and we will implement all our plans and do whatever we can to win it,” Misbah said. “We’ll try to play a similar brand quality of cricket that we have shown on this tour so far.”
As Pakistan set out to fulfil their dream, they have the backing of history. India’s cross-border rivals have defeated them in all three ODI matches they have played against them at the iconic Eden.
Misbah admitted that past records will give them confidence. “As a team, Pakistan have many happy memories of this ground. Even individually, Pakistani players have done well here,” he recalled. “In cricket, confidence plays a big role and the knowledge that you have performed well at a particular place gives you more confidence. But having said that, every game is a new one and you have to start afresh to win them.”
What will elevate Misbah’s confidence is the fact that having already played three matches on this tour – two T20Is and one ODI – the players have settled down after soaking the initial hype of the high-profile series.
“In the beginning of every India-Pakistan series there are nerves, but as the series moves forward and the more you play against each other, things cool down and become normal,” he said.
While the skipper is glad with the way his team has been performing on this tour, he misses the most charismatic Pakistani cricketer of this generation, Shahid Afridi. The mercurial all-rounder and the owner of a colourful personality, Afridi has been dumped for the ODI series owing to his prolonged lean patch.
“Shahid has been a main part of the team since so many years. We especially miss his wicket-taking ability in the middle overs. Till the time he regains his form, especially with the ball, and returns to the team, we have to get someone else to be the kind of partnership-breaker that he has been,” Misbah said.
While defending the decision to drop the out-of-form cricketer, Misbah also assured this is not the end of Afridi’s international career.
“Every player goes through a phase where despite being a good player he cannot perform up to his standards. That’s what’s happening to Shahid as well. Even we want him to come back to the team. But the right time for that will be when he regains a bit of form and confidence. He hasn’t finished yet. He still has it in him to serve Pakistan cricket in the future,” the Pakistan skipper said.