Misbah-ul-Haq: 'Beating the No 1 team is a great effort'

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The Independent Online

The breathtaking inadequacy England displayed in chasing 145 runs to win this game should not detract from the unity and flair that brought victory to a resurgent Pakistan team.

After the spot-fixing scandal at Lord's in August 2010, Pakistan cricket was in pieces. The rebuilding job effected by their captain Misbah-ul-Haq, 37, has been astonishing.

Under his leadership, Pakistan have lost only one of 14 Tests, winning seven of their last nine. Opponents may have included Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and West Indies but their superiority against Test cricket's top-ranked team was there for all to see here yesterday.

Nineteen of the 20 England wickets fell to spin. Misbah knew that with Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman bowling in tandem, Pakistan would always have a chance to win the game.

"For any team playing against bowlers like Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman on this surface, it's difficult," said Misbah. "You have to play very well against them, and when you are not picking them or seeing which side the ball goes, it's really difficult.

"We were thinking that if we could just put pressure on England, we could make a match of it, so we just thought: 'Let's have a try.' The bowlers did very well and they won this for us. Even in these conditions, beating the No 1 Test team is a great effort.

"It was really difficult to play left-arm spin on this pitch. We saw when England bowled the way that Monty Panesar was spinning the ball and how it was skidding on. Some of the balls were turning and some were skidding on, so it was extremely hard for a batsman to guess what would happen."

Given what happened two summers ago, the matches have been played in a spirit of fairness and the mature, pragmatic Misbah must take substantial credit. Asked if this series victory would allow Pakistan finally to put behind them the Lord's scandal, Misbah said: "It should do. Let's just concentrate on what is happening now."