Under-fire Misbah blames Covid-19 protocols, injuries for New Zealand flop

Published January 11, 2021
Pakistan head coach Misbahul Haq speaks during a press conference in Lahore on January 11. — AFP
Pakistan head coach Misbahul Haq speaks during a press conference in Lahore on January 11. — AFP

Pakistan head coach Misbahul Haq said on Monday that his fate was in the hands of the national cricket authorities after the team's New Zealand series defeat prompted speculation about his future.

Misbah, who has lost all three away Test series in his 15 months in charge, blamed an extended stay in New Zealand coronavirus isolation for the latest failure.

“I will brief the cricket committee on Tuesday and it's their right what they suggest to the board,” he told reporters in Lahore.

Pakistan lost the Twenty20 series 2-1 and went down heavily in both Tests. They have also lost Test series in Australia and England under Misbah.

The New Zealand tour started badly when six players tested positive on arrival and the team were confined to their hotel. They were later warned for breaching coronavirus restrictions by mingling.

“We had to spend 18 to 19 days in the rooms, we could not do anything, not even running. We were in rooms and just walking in the rooms,” Misbah said.

“Leave aside our situation, it (Covid) is affecting all touring teams and you must be seeing that performances are up and down and injuries are there.”

Pakistan, whose captain Babar Azam was sidelined with a broken thumb, lost the first Test by 101 runs and the second by an innings and 176 runs.

Misbah termed Babar's absence a "big loss" for the team that contributed to the setback.

"We are trying to see how to control performances, there is a lot of fluctuation so end results are getting affected. We did mistakes on the field but then again we also have to see that one person could not go due to Covid [and] injuries affected us a lot.

"Babar Azam was a big problem, that was a big loss for us. Babar has the same role for us as Kane Williamson for his team, so this was a big shock. Despite this, I will say that we did not leave any stone unturned but the opposition was better than us in all three departments," he said.

The head coach said he had no doubt about the overall effort of his team and that the Kiwis won because they played better cricket. "We observed a lot of things that we need to improve," he added.

He said it was a "fact" that Covid-19 and the bio-secure 'bubbles' were "somehow affecting the performances" of the players.

"You may say it is an excuse but the whole world is witnessing this."

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