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Misbah throws weight behind misfiring players

Pakistan head coach-cum-chief selector wants to resist the urge of pressing panic button

PHOTO: File

Pakistan head coach-cum-chief selector Misbahul Haq has backed misfiring players to come good in the remaining matches of the Men in Green’s ongoing Twenty20 International (T20I) series against Sri Lanka.

While speaking during a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Misbah threw his weight behind Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, opener Ahmed Shehzad and middle-order batsmen Umar Akmal and Iftikhar Ahmed.  

Comeback stars Akmal fell for a first ball duck while Shehzad managed just four runs. Skipper Sarfaraz accumulated 24 off 30 balls and Iftikhar 25 off 24, while chasing a target of 166 in first T20I on Saturday. However, they batted slowly and the asking rate soared.

“Sarfaraz is under pressure but as a coach and management team, I try to support him as much as possible so he plays his natural game and the same goes for the other players,” said Misbah. "With regards to Ahmed Shehzad, with every player I will try to be fair and give proper chances so that they know they have been given adequate opportunities before any decision was taken about them. No matter how much criticism I get, I think you need to give players a proper chance.”

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“No matter how big a player you are, whenever you make a comeback after a long time out from international cricket, no matter the opposition, there is pressure on you and it takes time to recover from that,” he added.

He also shed light on the reason behind inclusion of Akmal and Iftikhar in the playing XI.

"Iftikhar Ahmed and Umar Akmal have been brought in the team so that we have some power in the team. When you try out something then you need to have some patience and you shouldn't be so harsh on players, that you give judgement after one innings,” he said. “If you look at Akmal's performance, over the last year everyone was asking why he didn't get a chance because he scored runs in every format in domestic cricket.”

Despite the criticism Misbah has faced over his selection, the former Pakistan captain is not keen on pressing the panic button after just one defeat.

“Pressure doesn't help, in T20Is you need to express yourself. I am remaining positive and I am hopeful that the same goes for the players and we do well in the next match. Whenever you lose as a number one team it hurts and I think everyone felt that, we will try to make sure the outcome is different in remaining matches," he said. “We try to win matches but we shouldn't press the panic button and start ringing the changes. These players can perform for Pakistan going forward and win matches"

The remaining two matches will be played on Monday and Wednesday — also in Lahore — with Pakistan needing to win both encounters to claim the T20I series.

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