In the home two-Test series against Pakistan, Kane Williamson scored 388 runs at an average of 129.33. He was dropped four times by Pakistan. Williamson was followed by Henry Nicholls, who made 224 runs at an average of 74.66. He was caught behind off a no ball in the second Test and then dropped as he neared his century. As Pakistan walk away from two humiliating losses, it’s not a surprise head coach Misbah ul Haq has been left wondering about the what-ifs.
Pakistan lost the first Test by 101 runs and then the second one by an innings and 176 runs. Misbah conceded that the lost opportunities robbed his team a fighting chance. “I think the biggest thing in front of us, that we have seen in the past with Pakistan cricket as well, is our dropped chances,” the head coach said in a PCB podcast. “I think that has really affected our chances in this series. We missed a lot in both Tests, in which if we had grabbed them, we could have taken the Test further, but we missed them. We need to work on that.”
Misbah’s leadership has come under scrutiny as well. In the seven Tests Pakistan played in 2020, they won just one – at home against Bangladesh – while they lost three and drew two. The second Test against Bangladesh was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The criticism is valid,” Misbah agreed. “The people who criticise are those who believe in this team’s capabilities and the potential of this team. And that potential they showed in phases, like in the first Test when we were down and out in both innings but fought and brought it to a stage where we were five overs from a draw, from nowhere. You see that and of course fans then have expectations and then from there when your performance goes down, then the criticism is justified.
“When you perform below your potential in all three departments, we just need to get up from this and improve our performances. The main objective when you play sport is to win. When you don’t, there are disappointments. When your performances don’t match your expectations then there is sadness. You feel it, that we could’ve done better but we didn’t. On this tour we had opportunities, we created those by playing well but didn’t cash in on them. We have to see why we are getting in positions where we can close Tests but are not being able to do it ultimately.”
Misbah also hinted at changes in personnel in the home series against South Africa. The tour will start on January 26 with the first Test in Karachi before they move to Rawalpindi for the second Test from February 4. “That’ll be a good opportunity for us to review and try and improve, and to bring back the confidence that has been shattered in this series,” Misbah pointed. “We’ll have to plan our own changes keeping in mind home conditions and the South Africa team. In home conditions, you’ve played all your life, that gives you confidence. The Quaid-e-Azam Trophy has had good performers, so we will look at them too. The mistakes we made here, what we lacked, we need to analyse those and move forward and plan for the next series.”