It's a funny game under pressure: Misbah-ul-Haq

It’s a funny game under pressure: Misbah-ul-Haq

Misbah-ul-Haq of Pakistan. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The Boxing Day Test match 2016, the last match of the year between Australia and Pakistan at the MCG was expected to be a thrilling one. Pakistan had shown a lot of courage and determination in the pink ball Test and that boost the stakes on them. But coming here it was a complete contradiction of what they did just a week ago as Misbah-ul-Haq’s team absolutely shattered the hopes and in a rather dismissive manner gave away the Test match while it could have well been saved on the last day.

Australia batted extremely well after a score of 433 was put ahead of them in the first innings. They took a lead that eventually proved enough to bowl out the visitors in the second innings. Steve Smith once again led from the front with the bat and was unbeaten on 165 in the first innings. It proved to be match winning and the Aussie skipper was also named the man of the match for his effort.

In the post-match presentation, Smith said: “It’s been a pretty good day. At the start of the day, we spoke about batting for the first 40 minutes and see where we are. We didn’t lose any wickets, so we could really put the foot down. I thought Starcy played particularly well to get his 80 odd and clear the fence. That really set us up to get a lead of 180 and to get the ball reversing was very good.”

Nathan Lyon who hadn’t fired in the first Test and the first knock here came into the party and ran through the Pakistan middle order. “We knew it was going to be hard work. Lyon bowled well to get us those two quick wickets. At about five down, things looked a bit clearer when the ball was swinging. The bowlers got the ball in the right areas and got the job done, which was the main thing.”

Describing the winning moment Smith said, “It was an amazing feeling to see the boys in the huddle. When that ball went up, I was thinking ‘Is this going to happen?’ When Bird held on to that catch it was a pretty surreal feeling. We wanted to wrap up the series here. It was nice to score a hundred last week and to back it up here was good. I love batting at the MCG. I am very happy to have wrapped up the series.”

The Pakistan skipper has a lot of work to do, they have already lost the series but they still have to play for pride at Sydney, until recently they were termed competitive travellers for their overseas performances but the 2-0 defeat in New Zealand and a similar scoreline here has definitely hurt the team.

“I think especially after scoring over 400 in the first innings, we weren’t disciplined with the ball. We conceded about 270 runs in about 58 overs and I think that’s where we lost all the momentum. From there we were behind the game. It’s a funny game under pressure. The fact that you can only draw and lose the game puts pressure on the side.” Misbah said.

“Outstanding innings from Azhar in the first innings, the ball was swinging and seaming. He played the straight drive so well. Test cricket is about winning sessions and it’s not just one innings. We will go to Sydney and see what sort of a wicket is there on offer.” He concluded.

Mitchell Starc was exceptional today with the bat. He hit as many as seven sixes and played an 84-run knock with Smith to take Australia to 624. He then returned with the ball to pick 4 wickets and facilitate an innings win for his team.

After the win Starc said, “Finished that off in style. It’s fantastic for us to get a result. We always wanted to find a way to win, and be ahead in the game. We always had the belief and we kept everyone going. We knew if we took the chances we created, we would win. We knew we had two sessions to get those 10 wickets. To finish it the way we did, on day 5 in a Boxing Day Test, is an amazing feeling. I got away a few sixes away as well.”