BRISBANE: Pakistan are looking with renewed confidence to the remaining two Tests in the series after taking Australia to the brink at the Gabba, skipper Misbah-ul-Haq said on Monday.
Misbah’s men went down with all guns blazing by just 39 runs after chasing a world record 490 runs in the day-night first Test to raise their hopes of coming from behind to win their first-ever series in Australia.
Propelled by a magnificent 137 from Asad Shafiq over five-and-a-half hours, the Australians were fearing the worst until claiming the last two wickets late in the first session on the final day.
Misbah, the 42-year-old team elder, said the brave performance had fortified his team ahead of the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, starting on Boxing Day, December 26.
“As the skipper I am happy to see the team play like that,” he said. “Chasing 490 in the last innings after 142 in the first, the character of all the batsmen showed. That was wonderful.
I think it has set the tone for the series. “There were a lot of positives for us, especially in Australia where batting is the main problem for us. Now we are looking forward and are confident ahead of the next two Test matches.”
– ‘Classiest innings’ –
Misbah, who struggled batting under lights in the night sessions with scores of four and five, reserved special praise for Shafiq’s heroic innings.
“That is one of the classiest innings I have seen. In the context of the game, the way he handled the pressure playing with the tail, he made a match out of nothing,” he said.
Pakistan yet again illustrated their mercurial ability to surprise after posting a miserable 142 to trail by 287 on the first innings. “It is a totally different scenario when you start your innings with a new ball under lights,” Misbah said.
“They got through us, but in the second innings we showed courage to survive the initial burst with the new ball, then they played their shots.
“The mindset was positive. We wanted to score runs, everyone was determined, they showed character and it changed the whole scenario.”
Misbah said Pakistan, who play all of their games away from their homeland amid security fears, were mentally tough after playing six years together.
“Playing away all the time from friends, family, everybody, that is difficult for any player and that can sometimes burn a player, mentally they are tired,” he said.
“But overall this team is experienced enough now after playing together for six years, you could say it is a settled team. “They are capable of playing in any conditions because they are mentally tough, they understand Test cricket.”