JOHANNESBURG: Ahead of the T20I series against South Africa, Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said that he needs consistent performance from the middle and lower-middle order players so that side can capitalise from the top-order partnerships in setting up a big total.
Pakistan won the ODI series 2-1 against Proteas after winning the last match by 28 runs on Wednesday. In the three-match ODI series, the visitors' top-order performed well for them.
"Things we see going forward is that in our middle and lower-middle order we need consistent runs, as well as power so that you can score big runs. These days 325 isn't a safe total and we have seen that in the last two games when 320 felt less. So 330 and 350 are just normal, [so] it's necessary to have a capacity in your middle and lower order. The way the top order is setting the innings up, that needs to be capitalised on for a big finish. There is a simple and clear method in white-ball cricket, to put on 200 runs in T20s and 350 in ODIs and that's the demands of the time," ESPNcricinfo quoted Misbah as saying.
"It's not like you have to go wild and can only do that by slogging, but conditions, rules, and pitches these days allow you to score the bulk of runs with proper cricketing shots. All you have to do is utilise the 50 overs at the fullest and 330 runs will come easily, which is a competitive score. That's the way forward and pattern we have to follow," he added.
The ODI series win on South African soil is Pakistan's second in recent years, and Australia are the only other team with two series wins in South Africa. Misbah, coach now, was captain the first time it happened, in 2013.
On Babar Azam as captain, Misbah felt he is still learning: "For a captain, it's really important to lead from the front. He just goes in and controls the game. In the first ODI, South Africa did their best to attack him with Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje but the way he counter-attacked gave self-belief and confidence [to him as a captain]. All this helps him in decision-making and improves his overall ability.
"Though he doesn't have much experience as captain, this performance will allow him to get better. The way he has worked on his game in white-ball cricket or even Tests shows he is a good learner. He has cricketing sense and with more experience as captain, he will definitely improve his strategic moves," he added.
The first T20I between Pakistan and South Africa will be played at The Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg on Saturday.