Misbah: ‘Over reliance on Babar Azam hurting Pakistan’

Pakistan lost the first two games, by 64 and 35 runs respectively, as the islanders took an unassailable lead in the three-match series in Lahore.

Misbah-ul-Haq accepted responsibility for the twin defeats against Sri Lanka and said he needed to find solutions to the problems hampering the side.   -  FILE PHOTO/ AP

Pakistan head coach-cum-chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has urged the team to step up and not depend only on Babar Azam to get the runs after the team’s harrowing T20I series defeat to Sri Lanka at home.

Pakistan lost the first two games, by 64 and 35 runs respectively, as the islanders took an unassailable lead in the three-match series in Lahore.

“We became number one in T20Is but if you dig deeper, our only strength was Babar Azam’s runs and he didn’t score in two games and we’ve been exposed.

“I think we need to find six match-winners, not one,” said Misbah as quoted by cricketpakistan.pk.

“Until you don’t have that powerhouse in the middle-order and a powerhouse at the top-order for the powerplay, you can’t do well. Similarly in the bowling powerplay if you can’t get wickets and then in the death overs you can’t finish well, you struggle and I think we have failed in all departments.”

“It’s an eye opener. We need to look at these things. If we were doing well, we couldn’t do that here. Our strong points didn’t deliver. We need to find other players, how long can you rely on one or two batsmen?” he added.

The head coach accepted responsibility for the twin defeats and said he needed to find solutions to the problems hampering the side.

“You are seeing problems with the team and I am also seeing them. We need to resolve these. It’s not something that can be fixed overnight. It takes some time to fix these things,” he said. “Obviously I am answerable but to make a team, you need some time and to do that, you do some experiments. Only then do you get the answers to your questions. A lot of things are in front of us and we need to find solutions.”

The 45-year-old also defended selecting opener Ahmed Shehzad and middle-order batsman Umar Akmal for the T20I series against the islanders.

“Shehzad’s performance in PSL was excellent. Akmal’s performance in all formats in domestic cricket was very good. Unfortunately in our circuit, we have no other batsman in T20s who gave performances like these,” he said.

“I think that any player who is out of the team should get a chance again, if he performs. We gave that chance on that basis but they didn’t perform. All we can do is to give them a chance.”

The third T20I will be played at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, former pacer Shoaib Akhtar lashed out at the team’s dependence on Misbah alone.

“Pakistan cricket will never improve by giving one person the entire power and responsibility. You can save money by appointing one person as coach and selector, but the thing will only improve when the board will look for people who have an eye for the talent,” Akhtar said.

Citing India’s example, he said: “Virat Kohli is a bowler’s captain. Kohli is not doing captaincy when he is with the bowlers, he is enjoying the bowlers rattling the opposition. It is a good thing that Indian bowlers have such a good captain.”