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Misbah-ul-Haq says Pakistan will target Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene

Misbah-ul-Haq © Getty Images
Misbah-ul-Haq also said that he was confident of Pakistan’s pacers doing well © Getty Images

Karachi: Aug 2, 2014

Pakistan‘s Test and One-Day International (ODI) captain, Misbah-ul-Haq has said his teammates will have to take the wickets of the stalwarts like Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara early if they want to win the upcoming two-Test series in Sri Lanka, commencing at Galle on August 6.

Jayawardene, 37, has announced that he would retire from Test cricket after the two-Test series this month, and is hoping to have a memorable farewell series.

“Obviously you have to take 20 wickets to win a Test match and we will try to do that. But we also know how important it is for us to not allow their senior players to get runs,” Misbah told reporters before the national team’s departure for Sri Lanka.

“If we are to win the series then we have to ensure their players don’t score runs, particularly guys like Jayawardene and Sangakkara,” he added.

Misbah said while he his and teammates have a lot of respect for Jayawardene, they would be targeting the senior batsman during the series.

The skipper said his team was expecting a tough time in Sri Lanka.

“It is going to be a big challenge for us because they have been playing a lot of cricket and they have been doing well,” said Misbah.

“But we have prepared hard for this series and we are going there with lot of confidence in our batting line-up.”

Misbah said while Pakistan has traditionally always depended on its spinners to do well in Sri Lanka but he was confident that the pace bowlers would also fulfil their role in the series.

Saeed Ajmal is a world class spinner and he has done well against them but to win, all our bowlers have to fulfil their roles successfully,” he said.

Misbah said he was happy that the cricket boards of Pakistan and Sri Lanka had arranged this series, although it was not part of the future tours program.

“Our team has been short on playing Test matches so this series is a blessing for us as we prepare for the World Cup.

It also signals the start of our preparations for the World Cup,” Misbah stated.

Misbah also hoped that the new team management would take the team forward.”I have worked before with Waqar Younis and I know he will be good for the team. We all have only one desire that is to win the upcoming series against Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand and also prepare a strong side for the World Cup,” he said.

Pakistan’s head coach, Waqar Younis said he was hopeful that by the time the World Cup would begin next year, all the bowlers who are currently having fitness issues, including pacers Umar Gul and Muhammad Irfan, would be available for selection.”

Sri Lanka is never an easy tour and it is tough for the pace bowlers. But I think after this series I will have a much better idea of where we stand because at the end of the day while the World Cup is very important it is also important to do well in the coming Test series,” he said.

Meanwhile, Misbah has made it clear that he was not thinking about whether he would remain captain for the next World Cup in 2015.

“I don’t think about such things. I take one match at a time. I think the match at the moment is what matters,” he said. “No one knows what is going to happen the next minute, so why think so far ahead. What is important is the present and match you are playing. I just try to do well in it.”

40-year-old Misbah also shared the secret of his success.

“I prefer to keep quiet and calm no matter what anyone says or what is being debated. And I think it is my silence that bothers my detractors,” Misbah said with a smile.

“I am not thinking about my age or the World Cup. What I can do is give my best at the present moment, rest is fate.”

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has said that Misbah will lead the team in the World Cup but with a particular lobby very active in pushing Shahid Afridi as a better replacement to lead the team, the issue has refused to die down.

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