Misbah says Pakistan must find reverse gear
England went 2-1 up with one to play after dismissing Pakistan for just 201 in a 141-run win in the third Test at Edgbaston last week.
Pakistan greats Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis may have been the modern pioneers of reverse swing in the 1990s but England, led by James Anderson, managed to make the ball ‘go the other way’ at Edgbaston.
Subsequently, one Pakistani television station suggested England could have illegally tampered with the ball.
But, far more importantly, Misbah had no complaints over what England captain Alastair Cook said was “far-fetched nonsense”.
Instead Misbah simply called on his side to improve their performance with bat and ball in the series finale at The Oval, where a decade ago Pakistan became the first side to forfeit a Test by refusing to play on after being penalised five runs for ball-tampering by the umpires.
“Obviously there are legal ways to roughen the ball – you bowl cross seam, throw the ball from the boundary one-bounce, shine it on one side,” Misbah told reporters at The Oval on Wednesday.
“You care for the ball, and the team which does it better achieves reverse-swing.
“This is an art, a science…We have to do that,” he added ahead of Thursday’s start at The Oval.
“England’s bowlers are experienced – and Anderson and (Stuart) Broad know how to utilise it.
“They know the conditions.”
“Our seam bowlers have played less cricket.
“So they have to learn that and care for the ball – we have to gain that experience and concentrate on that.”
Load of rubbish
Pakistan lost four wicket for just one run in 23 balls at Edgbaston on Sunday as Steven Finn and Chris Woakes both struck twice after Anderson had made the initial breakthrough.
“Obviously we were also a little bit concerned about that – the way it just happened,” said Misbah.
“Suddenly it started – it just hadn’t happened throughout the Test match – but obviously the fifth day is different.
“The umpires are there, the match referees are there…I am not there to check those things.”
The Pakistani channel hinting at wrongdoing had focused on the way in which England vice-captain Joe Root was shining the ball.
But to most observers nothing untoward appeared to be happening and Cook said suggestions of foul play were “a load of rubbish”.
Cook added: “Someone showed me the clip on Twitter of Rooty shining the ball – it’s just shining the ball, isn’t it?
“It’s so far-fetched that it’s just nonsense.”
And Misbah insisted: “The game is over, and credit should be given to the England team for the way they bowled and got us out.
“That was a super spell by all their bowlers, especially after lunch.
“That happened, it’s gone – now we have to focus on the coming game.”
Pakistan’s four-man attack have tired badly in the latter stages of recent Tests, although they could be bolstered at The Oval by the inclusion of Iftikhar Ahmed, a top-order batsman who bowls off-spin in place of the struggling Mohammad Hafeez.
Were that to happen, Azhar Ali would likely be promoted to open alongside Sami Aslam.
“It’s tough for them to recover, with that big workload,” said Misbah of his frontline attack.
“But these fast bowlers need to really step up and show what they are made of in this last Test match.
“It will be tough to stage a comeback, but it’s not impossible.
“Don’t write us off.”