Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq is confident of his team’s chances in the Asia Cup final © Getty Images


By Tapan Mohanta


Mirpur: Mar 7, 2014


Injury setbacks are threatening to hamper defending champion Pakistan‘s chances but skipper Misbah-ul Haq on Friday said his team’s morale is so high that last-minute changes would not make much of a difference to it in the Asia Cup 2014 summit clash against Sri Lanka on Saturday.


In-form senior all-rounder Shahid Afridi is among the four Pakistani players nursing injuries right now — the other three being the opening duo of Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad and pacer Umar Gul. But Misbah was unfazed.


“At the moment he [Afridi] is really playing well. The kind of impact he is creating on the opposition and his own team, he should play for us. These injuries are part and parcel of the game,” Misbah told reporters.


“We’re just positive about that. Let’s see on Saturday how he feels and then we’ll decide. The in-form batsman are always crucial for the team but injuries are part and parcel of the game. If somebody can’t make it then we have to go to someone else who can really live up to the role.


“Considering the scenario, we are prepared to face any situation, and have our plans ready for the final. The morale of the team is high with the way we have won the last two matches. The team is fully confident. We hope to continue playing positive and good cricket. If you play good cricket, results go in your way.”


Citing the example of Fawad Alam, who scored a 74 in their chase of 327 against Bangladesh, Misbah said, “You may have seen Alam played really well in absence of Sharjeel Khan.


The confidence level is very high.


“Obviously your main players make a difference to the side. We are however mentally strong. All the members of the team have been performing well.”


Speaking about Sri Lanka, Misbah said they were not in awe of Lasith Malinga and are ready to tackle the Sri Lanka pacer.


“Everybody knows he’s their main bowler. But recently we played well against Sri Lanka in the series held in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. The whole team faced Malinga well, scored runs. Even did well against Malinga in the death overs.


“The team is confident to face him. We are not under pressure. It’s about the main batsmen playing full 50 overs to handle the situation,” Misbah said about Malinga, who grabbed 5 for 52 to hand Sri Lanka a 12-run win in the Asia Cup opener against Pakistan.


After starting off with a defeat, Pakistan have come back strongly with wins over Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh to make a second successive Asia Cup final.


“It’s really good to win always from these crunch situations. Every player and members get a lot of confidence from that. It’ll really help us in the future,” he said.


“We’ve been winning under pressure with one or two players winning the match for us. It’s all about confidence.


It’s obvious that your Asia Cup performance will matter a lot in the ICC World T20 to be held in the same venues.”


Misbah, however, said they would have to step up their performance to be able to halt Sri Lanka’s seven-match winning run in Bangladesh.


“Sri Lanka are obviously a tough opposition especially in the final because they do their basics right and always fight.


We really have to play good cricket. We have to be 100 percent up to the mark to put up a good show. We should be doing everything right, do the basics right like we have been doing in the previous games.”


Asked whether the team would have any specific plan against leading Lankan run-getter Kumar Sangakkara, Misbah said: “You obviously have plans against the main players and also others who are contributing for the team. It depends on the day how you execute those plans.”


Confused about the nature of the pitch, Misbah said: “I don’t know honestly. One day it looks like 200 is difficult, the next day on the same pitch you chase down 300-plus target.


We have to see how it looks like. we have to see how it goes.”