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'Every batsman has a blind spot' - Misbah wants bowlers to hit right areas against Smith
Pakistan News

'Every batsman has a blind spot' - Misbah wants bowlers to hit right areas against Smith

Misbah-ul-Haq has asked his pacers to focus on targetting the batsman's proverbial "blind spot" in a bid to dismiss Australia's master player Steve Smith.

Much of the talk heading into the two-Test series between Pakistan and Australia has centered on Smith's stellar run in the longer format ever since he returned from his one-year exile from cricket due to ball-tampering.

The former Australia skipper looked completely invincible against England's bowling attack during the Ashes earlier this summer, where he racked up an astonishing tally of 774 runs in four Tests.

Smith's idiosyncratic shuffles in his fidgety batting stance have made him a difficult batsman to dismiss but Pakistan's head coach and chief selector Misbah is keen on sticking with the conventional plan of pitching the ball in his 'blind spot'.

"The current form that Steve Smith is in, he is no doubt a batting genius. But every top batsman in the world has a blind spot. As a bowler, you are always interested in pitching it there. It is important how consistently we bowl there," he told reporters in Brisbane.

"At the moment, our bowlers are executing the plans perfectly. Hopefully, we can build on that pressure and maintain it particularly early in the innings by pitching the ball there consistently."

"No matter how good a batsman is, it is a matter of consistency and inducing a false shot from the batsman by bowling a large number of balls in the area,” he added, outlining the patience required to continue with this tactic.

Opposing captains have sometimes opted for a leg gully against Smith and persisted with a bodyline plan but Misbah answered in the negative when asked about a short-ball strategy in place for the 30-year-old Aussie.

"If you talk to any batsman, they say that’s the area [blind spot] where you have to defend the ball. That is a six-to-eight-metre spot where you have to play the top of off stump."

"That’s the area where if it’s happening, then it creates a good chance. Even if it’s not happening, you have less chance to do anything with the ball. So it’s about consistency," he said.

"Top players in the world, if they miss this area, that special line and length, then they are good enough to cash in on that. So you have to be very disciplined and keep the ball there. Then it comes to plan B or plan C and if it's not happening then where you're going to attack him.”

'In Australia, it's not just about pace and bounce'

Pakistan's pace quartet has grabbed the headlines following their impressive outings in the tour games with the teenage bowlers' ability to generate high speeds in the spotlight.

Misbah reiterated pace itself would not be enough to get the better of Australia's batsmen and admitted the bowlers needed to rely on prodigious seam movement and consistently pitching the ball in the so-called 'corridor of uncertainty'.

"In Australia, it is not just about pace and bounce, it is also about challenging the technique of the batsmen by putting it in the right areas."

"While the bowlers are inexperienced, the way they have bowled in the tour games, it does not reflect that they are rookies. They are bowling with good pace and getting the ball to shape away nicely.”

History has not been too kind on touring Pakistan sides in Australia, having never been able to win a Test series down under.

Also Read: 'Whoever steps up, they are in for a very good career' - Shan Masood

Misbah said he is wary of the stiff task that awaits the young Pakistan team though he reckons this fact fuels the motivation.

“This is a huge opportunity for the team to perform where they have never won a series. Youngsters do not have the experience of losing here which serves as an advantage to us since it galvanizes them into action to grab the opportunity.

"They will have the added motivation of making history in Australia that no Pakistan side of the past has done. Hopefully, it will be a good contest between our young bowlers and their batters," he claimed.

'Babar Azam is oozing with confidence'

Pakistan's premier batsman Babar Azam has been his side's standout performer on this tour so far as he replicated his dominant batting display in the white-ball internationals during the red-ball practice matches.

Babar has copped criticism for failing to bat for longer periods of time in Test cricket but Misbah believes the 25-year-old has shown the requisite restraint to succeed in the format.

Also Read: Analysis: What changes do batsmen need to make in Australia?

“The most important thing for a batsman is to be confident. The way Babar played attacking cricket on tough pitches in South Africa [earlier this year] shows he is a totally changed man.

"At the moment, how he batted in the tour matches and the preceding T20Is, confidence is oozing from his batting. He is technically balanced and improved. He has been batting maturely and not merely relying on aggression. He has shown a balanced approach by giving respect to good deliveries, indicating he is ready to play a long innings."

Misbah also singled out praise for comeback pacer Imran Khan, who will be playing his first international game for Pakistan after a gap of almost three years.

Imran produced a stunning spell of seam bowling that saw him return impressive figures of five for 32 against an Australia A lineup packed with Test hopefuls.

"Imran was always a hard worker. The games he previously played for Pakistan, he was good as he played most of his matches in Asia.

"He’s more fit at the moment and his comeback spells are very good. His pace is a bit up as compared to last time and he is consistently bowling in the good areas which is something that we need against a solid batting lineup like Australia’s."