Pakistan coach Misbah-ul-Haq has insisted his side can “fight back” from their agonising defeat by England in time for the second Test starting on Thursday. The tourists, following six months on the sidelines because of the coronavirus, were on course to go 1-0 up in the three-match series after dominating the majority of the first Test at Old Trafford. But Pakistan were undone by a stand of 139 between Jos Buttler (75) and player-of-the-match Chris Woakes, who guided the hosts to a three-wicket win with 84 not out on Saturday.
Having played so well in a losing cause, fears have been expressed over Pakistan’s morale.
Misbah, however, in a column published on the Pakistan Cricket Board’s website, wrote. “It’s easy to curse yourself when you’ve lost.
“But, we should remember that we were right on top until pretty much the last session of the game.
“We will do our best to come back in this series, which I really believe this team is capable of doing.”
Pakistan opener Shan Masood made a Test-best 156 at Old Trafford, while leg-spinner Yasir Shah took eight wickets in the match.
Yet Pakistan failed to put the game completely beyond England’s reach by being dismissed for just 169 in their second innings before, by Misbah’s own admission, a degree of “panic” set in during Buttler and Woakes’ match-changing partnership.
“Sure, we need to improve 10 to 15 percent and deal with pressure situations a little better but we shouldn’t be mentally down,” said Misbah.
“There is disappointment, of course, but we must not keep that feeling in our minds otherwise it will be difficult to come back but the team believes we can fight back,” added the former captain.
Playing the series without spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic means Pakistan are denied the vocal support they usually enjoy in England.
Misbah paid tribute to the way Buttler and Woakes “took the game away from us,” but accepted a Pakistan side led by skipper Azhar Ali might have done more to stop them in their tracks.
“They counter-attacked well and there was a bit of inexperience — and even panic — in the team that cost us,” he said.
“We still need to improve, of course, but overall we fought really well against a top team in our first international fixture for six months.”
Pakistan quicks Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi and teenage rising star Naseem Shah all bowled well in Manchester.
There are concerns, though, the trio could be out on their feet if they feature throughout a series of three back-to-back Tests, as happened to some West Indies fast bowlers during their 2-1 defeat by England last month.
Misbah, however, said of Pakistan’s pacemen: “They bowled a decent amount of overs but not too much so I don’t think there are issues of fatigue at the moment.
“But let’s see how everybody is feeling just before the match, how the conditions are and we will decide accordingly.”
Pakistan have not lost a Test series against England for 10 years.
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