Friday, November 13, 2009

Yousuf wants Misbah in New Zealand

Mohammad Yousuf, Pakistan's stand-in captain for the tour of New Zealand, has called for Misbah-ul-Haq to step up and fill Younis Khan's absence. Younis has given up the captaincy of Pakistan once again, and taken a temporary break from the game altogether, and Yousuf has expressed his desire for solidity in the form of the axed Misbah.

"The team is fine but I have asked the board for Misbah-ul-Haq to fill the gap that has appeared in the middle order as Younis would not be playing in the series," he said. "He [Misbah] is a good batsman and I think he would prove helpful for the team."

Misbah, 35, was left out from the squads in all three formats for Pakistan's series of ODIs, T20Is and Tests against New Zealand in the Middle East and New Zealand. His form has been poor in all three formats over the last year, in contrast to 2007, when he reignited his dormant international career in sensational fashion at the World Twenty20 in South Africa and then on a tour to India.

However, barely a day after being axed, Misbah scored a career-best 284 for Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited in the domestic four-day competition. He shared a Pakistan record of 479 with Usman Arshad, 41 short of the world record for the fifth wicket in first-class cricket.

"He has been playing well in domestic cricket and I hope he would also perform well in the series against New Zealand," said Yousuf.

After a lull in international assignments over the last two years, Pakistan suddenly find themselves in action until February next year. They have completed the limited-overs fixtures in the UAE, losing the three-game ODI series but winning the two Twenty20s. They now head off to New Zealand for a three-Test series. Following that, they move to Australia where they have another three-Test series and a series of five ODIs as well as a T20I.

Yousuf said he would aim to unite the players against the backdrop of talk of players being unhappy with Younis as captain for a while. "Team's performance depends on unity. I will try my best to bring together all the players and team management and try to give top performance myself," he said.

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