Misbah: Pakistan never recovered from Melbourne test

Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq walks off after losing his wicket to Australia during their cricket test match in Sydney, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

SYDNEY (AP) Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq pinpointed the last-day batting collapse in the second test as the moment at which the series against Australia nosedived, yet put the blame chiefly on his bowlers for the 3-0 series whitewash.

Speaking after the third test at the Sydney Cricket Ground which Pakistan lost by 220 runs, the 42-year-old Misbah said his team still had not recovered from its final day meltdown at Melbourne’s second test to lose by an innings and 18 runs after scoring 443 in the first innings.

”The last day of the MCG was the biggest disappointment of the tour and we got demoralized from that and could not recover,” Misbah said. ”This is how it is. Australia is not an easy place.”

Misbah, who has played 72 tests and been Pakistan captain for the past six years, also identified his bowling attack had underperformed in Australia.

”Our bowling is always our strength but in this series I was a bit disappointed that we couldn’t take 20 wickets in any of the tests,” Misbah said. ”That’s why we were so behind in every game. That’s important for you in Australian conditions.”

”It’s difficult for any Asian side to come here and take 20 wickets in a test match. That’s an art and we could not do that and that mainly cost us the series.”

Opening batsman Azhar Ali was Pakistan’s most consistent performer in the series, scoring 406 runs at 80.2; the highest series aggregate ever by a Pakistan batsman in Australia. Veteran Younis Khan scored an unbeaten 175 in Sydney to close in on 10,000 test runs.

”A lot of positives in the batting, Azhar, Younis Khan, Sarfraz, they played well here and scored some runs,” Misbah said. ”Some of our tailenders scored runs, and in future that’s going to be good for them in their careers.”

The skipper said unfamiliarity with Australian conditions was a major factor in the series loss.

”It’s important for us to get experience of these conditions and if we are not touring more often in Australia and South Africa, that could happen again and again,” Misbah said. ”I’ve already suggested that some of our players should be sent to Australia on a regular basis to play games here, to get used to these conditions at early an stage. This is the only way we can improve.

”If you are coming here after four or five or six years, seven or eight guys are coming here for the first time. Whether it’s a bowling unit or batting unit, we’re going to struggle.”