LAHORE: While noting teamwork as instrumental in Pakistan’s victorious tour to India, ODI and T20 captains Misbah-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez on Monday praised young players’ exceptional performance under high pressure that led to Pakistan’s wins against the ODI world champions on their home turf.
Speaking to media after the national team arrived at the Allama Iqbal International Airport here on Monday from India, Misbah said Pakistan’s victory in India came due to the combined effort.
Pakistan, after drawing the two-match T20 series against Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men, clinched the ODI series 2-1.
“Pakistan’s win on Indian soil is the result of teamwork. The outstanding performances by the youngsters made all the difference and they are a big hope for Pakistan in the future,” Misbah said at the airport where a significant number of jubilant cricket fans chanted slogans in favour of the triumphant national team.
Rookie left-arm fast bowler Junaid Khan, lanky paceman Mohammad Irfan and dashing left-handed opener Nasir Jamshed all excelled on the high-pressure tour to India, giving impressive performances when it really mattered.
Junaid and Irfan combined for 11 wickets in the series and destroyed India’s top order batting in all the three ODIs. Junaid took the key wicket of Virat Kohli for 0, 6 and 7 in all the three ODIs which put the Indian middle order on the defensive.Misbah had a special word of praise for Junaid and Irfan.
“The way they [Junaid and Irfan] fared in India, it shows they have a good future,” Misbah said. “They proved themselves against the world’s best batting line-up and played crucial role in our wins.”
The skipper was also impressed by Nasir’s magnificent run in India where he struck two back-to-back centuries in the first two ODIs which were won by Pakistan.
“The way Nasir is batting, it is making our [individual] scores look ordinary. But apart from me and Azhar [Ali], our batsmen have been doing pretty well,” Misbah stated.
To a question about losing the low-scoring third ODI in Delhi, Misbah dispelled the impression that he had taken the match lightly.
“The conditions changed [in Delhi] for the team batting second. Furthermore a commendable fielding effort by the Indians also helped them earn the victory,” he remarked.
It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan for the first time ever were at the brink of whitewashing India in an ODI series as they marched towards the 168-run target at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Sunday. The tourists had already bagged the series in the second ODI at Kolkata with a huge 85-run victory.
However, Misbah and company — from 113-3 in 34 overs — dipped dramatically, losing their last seven wickets for mere 44 runs to lose the nail-biting game by 10 runs with seven balls still to be bowled.
Hafeez, meanwhile, said the entire nation should be proud of the win in India, adding the youngsters’ performance was commendable.
“They did not surrender in the high pressure games and gave some outstanding individual performances, which kept Pakistan going in almost every match of the series,” Hafeez stated.
“The most encouraging aspect of the tour was that the entire team was focused on the series and everyone was confident to add his contribution for the team,” the all-rounder added and hoped that the team’s fine performance against India would help the PCB restore international cricket in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf, who accompanied the team praised the boys for Pakistan’s remarkable win in India.
“Pakistan team’s showing was commendable. Beating India in India is a big achievement and all this was possible due to teamwork,” he said. “The boys displayed great unity and fighting spirit.” Zaka also lauded Misbah under whose leadership Pakistan won the ODI series.
To a query about Bangladesh’s expected tour to Pakistan, the PCB chairman said the two boards were still holding discussions. “On my invitation BCB president came to India and watched the last ODI in Delhi and we will soon make an announcement in this regard.”
On Indo-Pak cricket relations, Zaka said though the talk with the BCCI regarding their return visit to Pakistan was held during his stay in India, no decision had been taken yet.
However, he hoped that soon international cricket would return to Pakistan, including Indian team’s visit.
Meanwhile, ODI man-of-the-series Nasir Jamshed said he would continue to improve in the forthcoming contests and would work with the seniors to improve.
“I am fortunate because my performance helped the team win,” the left-handed opener stated.