Pakistan team head coach Misbahul Haq is seeing the forthcoming T20 series against England as the benchmark to judge strengths and weaknesses of the Greenshirts ahead of the all-important T20 World Cup in October.
Talking to a group of journalists during a virtual meeting Sunday, Misbah said that England could be rated as one of the best white-ball teams in the world.
“They are the 50-overs-a-side champions and runners-up of the T20 World Cup as well. As such the team is one of the best around. For Pakistan, the T20 series against England will be a test case. By the end, we would be in a better position to judge where the squad stands, what are the strength and weaknesses, and what more we have to do till the start of the T20 World Cup.”
Misbah admitted that going into the series against England, Pakistan were not sure about their middle order. “We are not sure about the No 5 and 6 positions which sometimes could be the key. Sohaib Maqsood and Azam Khan are there. Sohaib has been drafted in the side following his exceptional performance in the PSL VI. There are a few other options available-let us see what would be in store. We are looking forward to a compatible series. Whenever we tour England, we enjoy our cricket.”
Misbah praised Shahnawaz Dahani as an emerging pacer, saying that team was announced well ahead of the start of the second leg of PSL VI.
“He will be there with us for the red ball cricket. But hopefully, we would have him for every format provided he goes on to show his talent in days to come. He definitely has a big future ahead of him.”
On absence of Younis Khan from the tour, Misbah admitted he would be missed.
“We definitely would miss him. But what happened is something between PCB and coaches and I am not going to be drawn into it. He always has a good impact on youngsters but now whatever we have got we have to continue with it.”
Pakistan are taking their sixth tour to England in as many years and will be playing One-Dayers and T20 cricket. “Playing ODIs ahead of the T20 series would give us a good picture as to what would be in store for us for the T20 series.”
Misbah even now preferred to stay in isolation and concentrate on cricket and the unity of the team.
“Though things have changed, yet I would prefer staying cut off from the outer world as it helps in team unity. Definitely, we miss our families, near and dear ones but in some way, it helps you in team unity.”
The team head coach was looking forward to seeing spectators on the ground as their presence always motivate and push cricketers to show extra.
“We came here last year too, there were no spectators altogether. Now things have changed and crowd presence would add extra spice. We are going to start our preparation from Monday and hopefully would be in best of shape by the time the series starts.”
Misbah also foresees a room for Azam Khan. “He is good and that is why he is in the team. Though he is out of form, yet I feel he is talented and could well prove handy for Pakistan. We must understand that form is not permanent. We have the option of shuffling our resources. The good thing is that our bench strength is strong and can fit in for an out of form player.”