BRISBANE: Misbah-ul-Haq can’t see any reason for his Pakistan squad to panic, despite two losses from two starts at the Cricket World Cup.
Pakistan plays Zimbabwe on Sunday in a crucial Pool B match for both teams.
Pakistan won the World Cup in 1992, the only other time it was co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Imran Khan’s Pakistan squad kicked off its campaign with a 10-wicket loss to West Indies, beat Zimbabwe and then lost to India and South Africa and got to share the points with England in a rain-affected group game.
One match, a big win over Australia in Perth, sparked a streak that included victories over Sri Lanka and New Zealand and culminated in a defeat of England in the final.
This time, Pakistan opened with a lopsided 76-run loss to archrival India in Adelaide, and then slumped to a 150-run defeat to the West Indies.
Both times, Pakistan struggled badly chasing a total. It’s no surprise that the squad of 1992 has come into focus this week for Misbah’s squad.
“The important lesson is never give up. That’s what Imran Khan usually says about 1992,” Misbah
“Even when the team was in difficult times, they never gave up. They just kept trying. At last they just managed to do what they really wanted to do in that World Cup.”
While he didn’t mind drawing lessons from the past, Misbah said it was crucial for his team to be focused on the now — and that is Zimbabwe at the Gabba.
He diplomatically described his team’s performances in the high-pressure games so far as “average.
“We need to win the next game, especially,” Misbah said.
“There has been a lot of talk about 1992 (but) you just focus on what you are doing here — that’s more important for our team.”
“When you’ve lost two games in a row in a World Cup, a bit of pressure on the team and the players, but I think this is a chance for us to just get our confidence back — if you win a game, it can change the mood of the whole team.”
Pakistan is coming to terms with a reworked bowling attack in the absence of pace bowler Junaid Khan and after veteran off-spinner Saeed Ajmal ruled himself out of the tournament rather than undergo testing on his bowling action.
There’s more responsibility on new-ball bowlers Mohammad Irfan and Sohail Khan and on the leg-spinners of veteran allrounder Shahid Afridi.
“I still feel that these bowlers are good enough and on a day if luck fills them, they can really go through any batting lineup,” Misbah said.
They’ll need to get on top early against Zimbabwe, which scored around the 280-mark in losses to South Africa and West Indies and beat the United Arab Emirates by four wickets while chasing 285.
Skipper Elton Chigumbura hasn’t given up hope of his team reaching the quarterfinals, and thinks Pakistan might be vulnerable after consecutive defeats.
“I think tomorrow’s a most important game for us,” he said.
“If we play our best cricket, hopefully, we’ll come up on the winning side.”
The Zimbabwe bowlers will have to recover from the recent onslaught from Chris Gayle, who clobbered a record 16 sixes and a World Cup-high of 215 in a 372-run partnership with Marlon Samuels as the West Indies posted 372-2 in Canberra on Tuesday.
“What’s important for us is make sure we polish up where we’re going wrong which is on our bowling,” Chigumbura said. “The last couple of overs …. is the main focus.”