World Cup: Misbah on Pakistan's comeback, unleashing Sarfraz and facing Australia

Misbah-ul-Haq was speaking with the media after Pakistan beat Ireland to qualify for the World Cup quarterfinals. You can also listen to the full press conference in the audio widget above.

Q. Misbah, a month ago, exactly on the 15th of February, you lost against India, then you went to lose against West Indies. Now four wins on the trot. What changed in the team?
MISBAH-UL-HAQ: Nothing changed. I think those were the tough games, and that was unfortunate that we played the two toughest games at the top in the beginning. But I think we just kept on doing good things, basics, and everybody believed in themselves, keep working hard, and now we are in the quarterfinals. I think it's all about just holding the nerves and keep doing the right things.

Q. Misbah, you obviously for a few games there didn't include Sarfraz. He's obviously made a big difference to the team. Can you talk about the difference he's made but also the debate that you had about whether to have him in the team earlier?
MISBAH-UL-HAQ: Yeah, I think we tried him when we just came here in New Zealand. For a couple of practice games, and then a couple of One-Day Internationals and a few games here before the World Cup warm-up games. Suddenly, I mean, in these conditions he was not up to the mark. He was not getting runs somewhere. He was just finding it difficult, even in the nets. That's why that changed our minds, and we just were in a difficulty how to just go with him at the top. But finally once we just tried our specialist opener, we were just left with no choice, and we just got Sarfraz back at the top, and he responded really well. In the first game he scored 49, gave us a really good score, and now he scored 100. Even today it was very crucial to have a partnership right at the top, and I think he delivered.

 World Cup: Misbah on Pakistans comeback, unleashing Sarfraz and facing Australia

Misbah-ul-Haq. AFP

Q. For a long time one of Australia's weaknesses has been against when the ball happens to swing at all. I know the two new balls in one day has been hard to get reverse swing, but from what you saw today, are you confident that your pacemen and even Mohammad Irfan when he's back will be able to get reverse swing against Australia on Friday?
MISBAH-UL-HAQ: Sometimes you get reserve swing, especially when you are bowling first. It's really difficult in the evening, especially with a little bit of dew. But still, in Australian conditions you get pace and bounce. So if your bowlers have that ability to just bowl around about 150 and they could have a little bit of extra bounce, it's not a matter of just swinging the ball. It could really hurry down to the batsmen and even you could get wickets with the short balls, and if you're bowling in the right area you could really create pressure. That's what these pacers have been doing. If you get the reserve swing, then I think that's a plus, if your bowlers can really bowl up to 140 plus, near 150, and if it's reversing, that could be really effective.

Q. New Zealand and Sri Lanka both found a way to score quickly and freely against Mitchell Johnson. Are you confident your side will be able to do the same?
MISBAH-UL-HAQ: We have our own ways to play. Let's see how we just go about that. But obviously now it's a big game, it's a quarterfinal, and I think it's the time for our batsmen to just play like that the way we did today. I mean, if we could really give a good total to our bowling side, they could really surprise any team.

Q. Misbah, Sarfraz's hundred got him the Man of the Match award, but do you think the main turning point of the game was the last 15 overs, the way your pacers bowled the Powerplay in the last 10 overs? How important was their role, and please talk about the variety you have the last over and how difficult it is to face for the rival teams.
MISBAH-UL-HAQ: Yeah, I think that was the turning point of the game, the last 15 overs, because they were just having the partnership and they were having almost six or seven wickets in hand, and we know that they are quite destructive batting side at the end. I think last 15 overs everybody bowled really well, especially Sohail Khan and Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, all three just stepped up and not only they restricted them, but they just kept on taking wickets. That's the key. That's what helped us to restrict them on a total which we just chased down easily.

Q. Misbah, what was the thinking behind changes to the team today? Do you think dropping Younis was a good idea today against Ireland, and will he be able to make it into the quarterfinal, and how serious is Irfan's injury?
MISBAH-UL-HAQ: Let's see about Irfan. He's having a problem in his quad while bowling, so we are hopeful that he will be okay until quarterfinal. Dropping Younis is always difficult. He played really well in the last game, but as we were just going with the full seamers and we need another option, sixth bowler option, and Haris just I think played really well throughout this tournament, he got some good 30s and in the last game before getting injured, he scored 70, so he's in a good nick, and he also gives us a little bit of, you could say, spinning option, and as a sixth bowler. So that was the reason behind that. Obviously it was a difficult decision in these sort of crunch games. You really have to take it really -- that was a hard decision for us to just drop Younis. He's got so much experience. But we have to do it for the -- I think better, you could say, combination.

Q. Misbah, I just wanted to ask you about something in reference to your TV interview after the game. You were talking about the pressure of this game versus the pressure of the quarterfinal. Having stood up under the pressure to qualify for the next phase today, does that hold you in good stead for the quarter, and will you, I suppose, have a maybe even slightly more relaxed mindset going into tomorrow?
MISBAH-UL-HAQ: I think it's always difficult, especially if you are playing against a team which is having no pressure, because Ireland are there. They are just playing their cricket without any pressure, and all the pressure is on the other side because everybody just wants us to win because we are the favourites against them. All the pressure is on these sort of sides, Test playing nations, and I could really see that this was even a much bigger game for us in terms of pressure, and it will be less against Australia because they are the favourites. They are playing at their own, you could say, own grounds. We have nothing to lose, just go there, express yourself, and that's all for the best.

Q. Can you beat Australia, Misbah?
MISBAH-UL-HAQ: Yeah, of course, why not. You could say on a day, the team that plays better, they could win, and the one-day game, you never know. One good spell, one inning could change the course of a game. We've got those sort of bowlers, we've got some sort of players that could do it for Pakistan.

Q. Does the recent Test series win give you confidence?
MISBAH-UL-HAQ: Yeah, that's another different thing, but it's a totally different ballgame. We are in different conditions, but still, every team is beatable, and especially in One-Day cricket, you never know.

Q. Your team is doing very well in batting, bowling and fielding. They have improved a lot. What area do you see that you have the problem, still have some problems or you have to work on that?
MISBAH-UL-HAQ: I mean, still, we have areas to improve. I mean, we can improve in all these departments. It's the percentage. If you just add on every game you can just -- a little bit you could say, 10 percent, five to 10 percent if you can improve in your batting, bowling, fielding departments. It's a big challenge for us in batting because we are up against a good bowling side, and they are playing in their own conditions. I mean, we have to really stand up and give something to our bowlers so we can really just fight.

Q. I know Younis has been struggling for runs in the World Cup, but because he did so amazingly well in that Test series against Australia, could that at all be a factor in you deciding to play him on Friday?
MISBAH-UL-HAQ: Let's see. I mean, obviously we have to take decisions, whatever it better for the team. We just sit together and see what combination suits us, what is better for us in the coming game and see. If we think that we need him, obviously we can have him because he's still in good shape. He's still in good confidence. He's the one who could just come and deliver for Pakistan. He's so experienced. He's got so much experience of international cricket.

Q. This match against Australia, how much of it is going to be played in the minds of the Pakistan players? How much of it will be a mental game for the Pakistan players, mental strength going into the match against Australia?
MISBAH-UL-HAQ: I don't think so. I mean, it's the quarterfinals. You know they are the favourites. They are playing in their own conditions, so pressure will be on them. Obviously every team wants to win, and I think we also want to do well, and this is one game you could just win it and go to the semis. We have to give everything in that match and see what we can do.

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Updated Date: Mar 15, 2015 19:18:23 IST