Lockdown does help in bringing players closer, says Misbah

Published June 28, 2021
In this handout picture released by the PCB on Sept 7, Misbah-ul-Haq speaks to media during a press conference in Lahore. — AFP/File
In this handout picture released by the PCB on Sept 7, Misbah-ul-Haq speaks to media during a press conference in Lahore. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq expects his charges to put up a good show during their upcoming white-ball series against England, while saying the players have gelled because of staying in bio-secure bubbles due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This [lockdown] does help in bringing together everyone close and we’ve had fair share of bubbles since last year when we visited England [for three Tests and two Twenty20s] and stayed at Old Trafford [Manchester] and Ageas Bowl [Southampton],” Misbah said while addressing the first virtual media conference after reaching Derby on Sunday.

“Obviously the advantage of these scenarios benefited the squad of players and management, and do whatever you wish, having food together, spending time in the team’s common room and practising together. The entire group is just a big family these days.

“At the same time the drawback of this [bubble] life is that you are cut off from the outside world which includes our families and other people who in normal circumstances can be a source of distraction. Overall, I can say the whole experience can be chastening mentally at times,” the former Pakistan captain added.

Pakistan squad reaches England

“But probably at the back of my mind, I would like to be in the lockdown.”

Pakistan will take Eoin Morgan’s World Cup champions in three One-day Interna­tionals — Cardiff (July 8), Lord’s (July 10) and Edgbaston (July 13) — before the two teams play three Twenty20 Internationals (Trent Bridge, July 16), Headingley (July 18) and Old Trafford (July 20).

Unlike last year when all matches were played behind closed doors, the British government has eased Covid-19 restrictions to allow 50 per cent spectators.

“This is a welcome development because performing in front of the fans motivates players and the whole atmosphere gets electrifying,” the head coach stressed. “Mentally, the players would be far more relaxed and enjoying the occasion altogether, which is simply going to be wonderful because we have a good bunch of players who are eager to showcase their talent.”

Misbah is also highly impressed by emerging pacer Shahnawaz Dahani, who was the star performer during the just-ended HBL Pakistan Super League by topping the bowling chart with 20 wickets.

“It’s unfortunate he’s not part of the [white-ball] squad on this tour even though he was in the Test squad during our series in Zimbabwe. But there is no doubt Shahnawaz is a good prospect for Pakistan and has a bright future ahead of him,” Misbah remarked about the 22-year-old from Larkana, who is part of the Test side to visit West Indies in August.

“The team was announced about 20 days before the PSL matches in Abu Dhabi started. We may yet consider Shahnawaz during the upcoming games since he was the highest wicket-taker during the PSL.”

Misbah refused to comment on the upheaval surrounded by former Pakistan captain Younis Khan’s resignation as batting coach on the eve of team’s departure for England.

“I prefer not to say anything on the issue. But definitely Younis was someone who always went out of the way to help the players, especially youngsters,” Misbah said. “His experience and knowledge of the game will be missed but we have got to focus on the resources available at our disposal now that he is not there.”

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2021

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