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'They lived up to the expectations' – Misbah pleased with pacers' new-ball burst
Pakistan News

'They lived up to the expectations' – Misbah pleased with pacers' new-ball burst

Misbah-ul-Haq seemed thrilled to witness a dominating performance from Pakistan's hyped pace attack against England on the second day of the first Test at Old Trafford.

Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Abbas combined to leave the hosts in complete tatters at 12-3 before resistance from Ollie Pope allowed England to save themselves from a major collapse.

Abbas, who has happy memories from his last tour to England in 2018, was the pick of the bowlers as his nagging lines and wobbly seam accounted for opener Dom Sibley and champion batsman Ben Stokes. Abbas' deceptively innocuous pace tested the patience of the Englishmen as his deliveries moved sharply to expose the flaws in their defence.

Abbas and Shaheen's success thus left head coach-cum-chief selector Misbah raving about the duo for putting them in a strong position.

"Really pleased by their performance. I think they put the ball in the right areas," Misbah told reporters in a virtual press conference.

"Everyone knows their potential. Abbas has a very good repute in international cricket and he is one who has very good control and can move the ball off the seam both ways."

"He lived up to the expectations today and obviously, Shaheen is our standout bowler in the last two-three months. He bowled very well too."

The 46-year-old felt England would be further under the cosh given they now require a lot of effort to acquire a first-innings lead.

"I’m happy since it is crucial for you to take wickets, especially when you have only 320 [326] runs on the board and it could go either way. So it’s important for you to take early wickets and they provided us with that advantage with the new ball."

The other extraordinary performance of the day belonged to Pakistan opener Shan Masood, who batted remarkably for his marathon century that lifted his side to a respectable total.

Masood's exceptional levels of concentration were coupled with his distinct ability to shift gears as the situation demanded.

The 30-year-old has revived his career in dramatic fashion after being banished out of the side following a barren run in international cricket a few years ago. A spate of impressive knocks in the South Africa tour last year was proceeded by a stellar show at home, signifying how much he has improved his game.

"Excellent performance by Shan Masood against a quality seam attack and a good spinner on a pitch where there was turn," Misbah said.

"Good application by him and his hard work paid off. He’s a very committed individual and that really showed in this innings. The way he’s progressing in the last couple of innings, performed in South Africa last year and was good in Australia."

"Coming back in Pakistan, he scored runs and now he proved himself in England by going on to smash a big hundred. We would have been in trouble if he only scored a hundred but 150+ and playing through the innings was something special," he pointed out.

A much-needed supporting act to Masood's epic 156 was all-rounder Shadab Khan's lively 45. Shadab's inclusion in the first place was viewed with skepticism but he repaid the faith bestowed in him by the selectors through his street-smart cricket.

The dynamic batter nudged numerous quick singles to take the game away from England just when Pakistan seemed to be losing the plot.

"At No. 7, you need a batsman like Shadab who can score freely and put pressure on the opposition," Misbah said justifying his selection.

"He’s a very good fielder also and as a package, I think these conditions also played a huge role in picking Shadab. He just gives a lot of balance in our squad once he’s there at No. 7."