Pakistan comes first, always: Misbah


ABU DHABI: Struggling Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq on Monday said he needed to start scoring runs again to continue playing as captain of the one-day side. Misbah, 40, withdrew himself from the third and final one-day match against Australia in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, raising doubts over his captaincy barely four months from the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Shahid Afridi instead led Pakistan, but their fortunes did not change as Australia pulled off a sensational one-run win in the last over to seal a 3-0 whitewash.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan told AFP on Sunday it will be Misbah’s decision to lead or leave the Pakistan one-day team but his board has contingency plans in case Misbah gives up.

But Misbah told AFP that he will try his best to regain his batting form and if that failed he would reconsider his future.

“I have no such intention,” said Misbah when asked if he was leaving the one-day captaincy.

“But obviously I will have to see in the next four to five Tests because runs are very important.

“Team and Pakistan come first. If I can get my form back and score runs then I will think of being back there but if not, then obviously, you can’t put the team in such a difficult situation and you have to decide.“

Misbah was the top run getter in one-day cricket last year with 1373 runs, but he managed just 67 in the 2-1 defeat in Sri Lanka in August this year and was out for a first-ball duck and then 15 in the two games against Australia.

Misbah said he still feels Pakistan needs experience for the World Cup.

“My effort is to just get my form back and come back into the side to fulfill the role I have always fulfilled. It’s nothing like giving up one-day play, but obviously I am concerned over my form and runs.“

Misbah said he never gets disheartened with criticism from former greats who wanted him to be sacked.

“No, I don’t get hurt. Sometimes you get that, sometimes luck doesn’t favour you. Once you are set you get run out for example I think in my last eight innings or so I have been run out four times. Sometimes this happens.“

Misbah denied any rift over his decision to step aside for the final one-day.

“I myself requested with the management and with Afridi because we have a month and a half of Tests ahead and my form was off.

“The team was hurting because of it and we had lost the series so I thought fine, let another guy play in my place.

“I can focus on the Tests and get my form back.“

Pakistan are to play two Tests against Australia, the first starting in Dubai from October 22.

That will be followed by three Tests, five one-day games and two Twenty20s against New Zealand, also in the United Arab Emirates.

Misbah said the backing from the PCB gave him confidence.

“It is up to your confidence in the team, in the management, in how the board is supporting you and that made the decision easier,” said Misbah.