Misbah not taking dead rubber lightly

Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan watch Asad Shafiq take a catch during practice © AFP

Pakistan have already won the series against West Indies but their captain Misbah-ul-Haq has all but said that there are no dead rubbers in Test cricket. Victory in Sharjah will mean Pakistan have won all nine matches across formats, something no team has achieved before, after 3-0 wins in the ODIs and T20Is during West Indies’ tour of the UAE. It will also consolidate their no. 2 ranking in Test cricket.

“Every victory is important, no matter which opponent is up against you,” Misbah said on the eve of the Sharjah Test, his 49th, which will make him the most-capped captain of Pakistan. “Test cricket is Test cricket and it’s always great to win a Test match. West Indies, on a given day, gave us a tough time and they created a situation where they could have won or drawn the game.

“So you can’t say that it’s an inconsequential series. In terms of ranking and your team’s reputation – it’s important for you to perform consistently and keep on winning.”

West Indies took the first two Tests into the fifth day, batting more than 100 overs in the fourth innings before Pakistan won by 56 runs in Dubai and 133 in Abu Dhabi. Misbah was determined to finish the series with a strong performance ahead of testing away tours during the winter.

“We are confident as a team the way we are playing and will try to win this one,” he said. “Because we have a tough series ahead, we want to sign off with confidence and on a winning note. We want to keep it simple for, every game has importance and series victories always carry a unique value.”

After the series against West Indies, Pakistan will travel to New Zealand for two Tests and then to Australia for three, one of which will be a day-night contest in Brisbane. Pakistan won their most recent away series – in England this summer – and will hope to improve on the 0-3 defeat they suffered in Australia in 2009. Misbah said preparing for such tours was a “continuous process”.

“The process for England, the preparation I think started long ago in 2010, with every passing day and every passing series, whatever we gained in experience gave us confidence and actually helped us in England. Now with wins against England and West Indies, we are in better shape and this will help us in New Zealand and Australia.”

Perhaps the biggest disappointment for Pakistan during this Test series against West Indies in the UAE was the poor spectator turnout. Barely 500 fans came to watch a day of Test cricket. Not even the novelty of a day-night Test in Dubai drew a crowd, and motivation needed to come from within when playing in an empty stadium.

“It’s tough as a player to motivate ourselves,” Misbah said. “You clearly see the difference between England being house full and here in the UAE. There [in England] every good shot, good fielding, even one good ball was appreciated by the crowd.

“It was a completely different atmosphere and we play for the crowd that’s the main passion for us. That motivates us, so it’s tough in a stadium without a crowd. Without them, we don’t enjoy as much but we are professional and we eventually have to give 100% and perform.”

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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