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'The players are mentally confident and in good shape' – Misbah-ul-Haq
Pakistan News

'The players are mentally confident and in good shape' – Misbah-ul-Haq

Misbah-ul-Haq believes Pakistan's players are in high spirits heading into the first Test against England despite spending the last five weeks in a bio-secure bubble and not having been a part of an international fixture for several months.

Misbah, who serves as Pakistan's head coach and chief selector, referred to the team's Test victories over Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at home before the coronavirus-enforced cricket hiatus.

He felt the players were in a good place both mentally and physically, pointing towards their impressive performances against these oppositions.

"Mentally at the moment, the guys are in good shape because they are coming from good performances," he told reporters in an online media interaction.

"When you are confident mentally and in good shape, then you always can deliver on the field."

With all eyes on the battle between England's highly-rated pace battery and Pakistan's settled batting combination, Misbah sounded optimistic about his side's chances of prevailing.

The 46-year-old former skipper was keen on highlighting the decent form witnessed by the likes of Shan Masood, Abid Ali and captain Azhar Ali, all of whom have scored centuries in their recent appearances.

Moreover, he addressed the fact that Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam have been in the runs during Pakistan's last two tours to England, both of which saw the visitors draw the Test series.

"Shan Masood, Abid Ali scored centuries in the previous series [at home to Bangladesh in February and at home to Sri Lanka in December].

"Conditions are different but still confidence plays a huge role in your mind when you're coming from a series where you scored runs."

"Azhar got a hundred [too, against Sri Lanka]. In 2016 Asad Shafiq scored runs here, Babar Azam last time performed here in 2018 [when Pakistan drew a two-match series in England 1-1] and the way he's batting at the moment, he's confident and playing well," he said.

England's pace attack is replete with experience as the country's all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson will be accompanied by latest addition to the 500-wicket club Stuart Broad to share the new ball.

But Misbah maintained that his batsmen can find a way to give Pakistan's bowlers enough runs to defend.

"It's always tough with the Duke ball in England where the ball moves around off the seam and also in the air," he claimed.

"But this is where you can really fight and our batting looked in great shape in the last two series. We played in Pakistan but even in Australia, we managed to score good runs in almost every innings."

"It's a challenge for us against an experienced and very good seam attack of England but I think we've got potential."

Pakistan's extended squad has engaged in two warm-up matches before the start of the series but they will be devoid of the advantage of momentum currently possessed by England. The home side defeated West Indies in July to reclaim the Wisden Trophy and are focused on sustaining their successful run this summer.

Misbah, though, said his team was raring to go hard from the outset and upset England's rhythm.

"We should be ready for an England team that have already had three matches of experience and they won their last two Test matches.

"We have to really come in this Test series right from the word 'go' at our best if we want to win a Test series or a Test match here.

"We are aware that England have a slight advantage but if we are alert and go 100 percent in the first Test match, that is the only way we can beat England, otherwise we will find ourselves in difficulty."