| Misbah-ul Haq |
Abu Dhabi: A month after losing a Test to Zimbabwe, Pakistan made a strong comeback as they defeated South Africa by seven wickets in the first match of the two-Test series.
Pakistan, hence,handed South Africa their first Test defeat in almost two years and ended their 15-test unbeaten run. South Africa last lost to Sri Lanka in Durban in December 2011.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq believes the victory over the No. 1 Test side would do a world of good to the confidence of his boys going into the second Test.
“That was really a much-needed win for us, especially with the bulk of youngsters in the side. Now they have really got to believe that they can do it. Now that we have beaten the No. 1 side in the world, the boys will have the confidence to do it against any side in the world… I think we can beat any side in the world,” said the 39-year-old.
Misbah said the opening partnership in the first innings paved the way for victory.
“The two openers gave us a big advantage in the first innings. The way Khurram Manzoor and Shan Masood played, they took the game away from South Africa. That gave us the momentum and we could really put pressure on South Africa,” Misbah said.
If the openers had given the side a solid start, Misbah’s innings in the middle order was also instrumental in Pakistan’s success.
“A century in a Test is the most precious thing for a batsman to achieve. It gives you immense satisfaction. I really enjoyed it. That we won the game also makes the innings special.”
The Pakistan captain feels that the conditions favoured his side.
“Conditions played an important role,” he said. “When you are playing at a venue where you’ve performed well as a team, it’s a big plus. You really feel comfortable. I always believed this team has the quality to produce this type of cricket.
“Our batting struggled abroad, especially the top order, but here both openers played very well and it gave us an advantage. We were saying at that time too that conditions were different in Zimbabwe. Here, the record of the Pakistan team is very good and whatever cricket we have played here over the last three years or so, we have done well,” said Misbah.
Misbah also credited his bowling attack for restricting South Africa to only 249 in the first innings. “The way our bowlers bowled in the first innings was amazing… When you are bowling on a flat track, you need to bowl in the right areas. Our bowlers did that.”
Misbah promised the fans that Pakistan will go for a win in the final Test, too. “We have just given clear instructions to the groundsmen that we want results. We want to exploit our home advantage. We are not going to think negative because whenever there are negative thoughts in your mind, you don’t get results. Whether we win or lose, we want results,” Misbah said.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith, on the other hand, said he was extremely disappointed with the loss. “We haven’t been in this position too often of late. I think we have been outplayed before the completion of four days.”
Smith admitted Pakistan dominated throughout the match.
“Right from the first session, Pakistan had been ahead of us. Even though we showed character to fight till the end, I think Pakistan have been better than us and we have to be honest about that.”