Misbah hopes Pakistan handle flights and fights


NAPIER: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq hopes his team’s exhausting trans-Tasman flight schedule won’t undermine their World Cup hopes as they prepare to tackle the amateurs of the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.

“The next six days are going to be very tough for us with flights and three games but that’s how it is,” said Misbah.

Pakistan flew to Brisbane from Christchurch last week to play Zimbabwe and then hopped back to New Zealand to play UAE at Napier Park on Wednesday and then South Africa in Auckland on March 7.

Their pool stage games end in Adelaide against Ireland on March 15.

Misbah said the long gaps between games break the momentum of preparation after Pakistan’s opening game against India in Adelaide on February 15 was followed by a meeting with the West Indies in Christchurch six days later.

“You don’t get rhythm so it’s tough for any team as you have to play in different conditions and weather but you can’t change that. We have to put this aside, handle it and this is the only way out.

“These are very important games. We have to travel almost after every game so that could be really challenging but we have to do that.”

Misbah said confidence was on the rise after the narrow 20-run win over Zimbabwe, their first in the World Cup on Sunday which gave them two points in three outings.

“Of course a win is always good for confidence and everybody is feeling good and looking forward to tomorrow’s game,” said Misbah, who admitted the fight for a quarter-final place was tough.

“This pool is open. Anything can happen and every game is important in this pool, all the teams are still interested in making the quarter-finals.

“We are also fighting for the quarter-finals. We have to go out there and improve our performance. We have to do it if we want to go into the next round and perform tomorrow, then against South Africa and then against Ireland (March 15) and if we are unable to perform in one game then we are out of the tournament.”

Ireland, who were facing South Africa on Tuesday, have four points in two games while the West Indies have four points in four. Title holders India and South Africa are favourites to take the top two slots in Pool B.

If teams finish on equal points, they will be separated on number of wins and then net run-rate, something which Misbah said his team will look to boost against the UAE.

“I think that net run-rate is another question,” said Misbah, whose team stands at -1.37 after 76-run and 150-run losses in their first two matches.

“It all depends on how we start, if you have a good start we can capitalise. We couldn’t get a good start and struggled to beat Zimbabwe so if we have control over the game on Wednesday then we can push for the net run-rate.”

Despite the top order failure Misbah stressed opener Nasir Jamshed, who has a duck and one in the last two games, will keep his place.

“Nasir has played just two innings, not nine or ten so we have to look at it then and decide. Cricket is a game of uncertainties, you get four five poor innings and suddenly you have a hundred.

“Our top order batsmen are capable of that.” -AFP