Misbah-ul-Haq glimpses a brighter future for Pakistan cricket

While Misbah conceded Pakistan hasn't done well in Tests in 2019, he labelled Babar Azam's ascent across formats as the biggest positive for cricket in the country.

Babar Azam of Pakistan celebrates after reaching his century during day four of the 1st Domain Test between Australia and Pakistan at The Gabba on November 24, 2019 in Brisbane.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Banking on the young talent, Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq hoped for better results in 2020. Misbah hailed the emergence of batsman Babar Azam and pace duo of Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi in 2019.

“Going further we have to improve a lot of things in both red-ball and white-ball cricket. This team has enough potential and new boys are also making their way in international cricket. There’s certainly a bright future ahead for us,” Misbah said.

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Babar's rise

“The emergence of Babar Azam as a mega star across all formats is very good news for Pakistan cricket. He remained number one in T20I cricket and is in the top 10 batsmen in the ODI cricket.

“He played some brilliant innings in the World Cup and ended the year by establishing himself as a Test batsman with scintillating performances in Australia and two centuries against Sri Lanka in Pakistan," he added.

Misbah also noted Shah and Afridi’s impressive start in Test cricket.“Naseem got a five-for in the last Test against Sri Lanka. Shaheen bowled well in the World Cup and showed glimpses of being a Test bowler in South Africa, and bowled well in Australia and here in Pakistan against Sri Lanka. We will hopefully bank on these two promising fast-bowlers in the future.

“Overall, we are on the right track. The more we play the longer format, the more we will improve. We need to do a lot of work in white-ball cricket ahead of the all-important ICC T20 World Cup in Australia. We can go a long way with a few more additions in the side and the present players maturing,” he said.

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Under the cosh

Misbah since assuming the dual responsibility in September has himself come under fire for the team’s poor performances especially after the three-nil defeat to Sri Lanka in the T20 home series but did not call Hafeez or Malik to the team even though Pakistan also lost a T20 series in Australia.

Hafeez and Malik last played for Pakistan in the World Cup. Since then Malik has retired from ODIs and only focuses on T20 cricket while Hafeez too is available only for white-ball cricket. Malik and Hafeez together have made 705 ODI and T20 appearances for Pakistan.

Misbah said Pakistan’s performances in white-ball cricket suffered since its main players Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan, on the back of whom it had won the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, lost form at a crucial time.

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