Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq put up a brave face in team’s stunning 141-run defeat against England in the third Test at Birmingham on Sunday, saying they can still stage a comeback and level the series.
Pakistan, set a daunting 343 to win in 84 overs, folded at 201 soon after team on the fifth and final day to hand a 2-1 lead to England with the final Test starting at The Oval from Thursday.
Well placed at 79-1, Pakistan lost their last nine wickets for 122 runs — six wickets in the post lunch session for just 79 sliding with the wicket of Azhar Ali (38), Younis Khan (four) Misbah-ul-Haq (10), Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed (nought each) and Sami Aslam for a well played 70.
Misbah gave credit to England who conceded a first innings lead of 103 but posted 445-6 declared in the second innings.
“It happens in cricket,” said Misbah. “Credit to England as they fought hard after conceding a lead. They bowled well in both the innings and until lunch we were in the game to draw it but lost crucial wickets to poor shots.
“Yesterday the partnership between Bairstow and Moeen pulled them back in the match but the good thing is that all is not lost, we can still square the series.”
Misbah admitted poor form or senior batsmen Younis Khan and Mohammad Hafeez was a concern.
“Obviously its a concern. We know Younis is a top performer and his role us important in this Pakistan team. Obviously he is the one who can come back and so can Hafeez. We believe in them.”
Hafeez pulled a short ball straight to deep fine-leg fielder and was caught for two while Younis edged one to wicketkeeper for four. Hafeez has 102 runs in six innings while Younis’s contribution is a mere 122.
Misbah praised young Sami who scored fifties in each innings after being recalled for his first Test in 15 months.
“Sami looks a compact player and has shown great temperament and I am happy that he did well against such type of bowling,” said Misbah of 20-year-old left-hander.
Asked if this was the most disappointing defeat of his career, Misbah said: “: No, its not like that. When you come in such conditions you struggle. Even teams from Australia, South Africa and India have struggled here. We won the first Test but lost the second, that was a disappointing loss because we were outplayed..
“Here we played well most of the game but lost our way in the two sessions, on fourth day when Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow batted well and after lunch today. We were in control until the fourth day (before tea) and even today by lunch we thought it will be a draw. Its nothing to be despair, there were some positives.”
Misbah admitted Pakistan were finding it difficult to play with four bowlers.
“Yes that’s a problem. When we play in Asia spinners get help. Earlier we used to have Hafeez and Shoaib Malik who could bowl and were helpful but here we don’t have that option. England have Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes.