LAHORE-Pakistan chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq believes that in-form veteran cricketers Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik are still capable of representing Pakistan in the next ICC Twenty20 World Cup. 

“If you look at their previous two year’s record, both Hafeez and Malik have done a reasonable job for the team and played some crucial knocks. Even if you look at their strike rate, it is according to the requirement of international cricket. I think both the players can be a part of Pakistan team for the next ICC T20 World Cup. It’s too early to write them off because of his age. There is a lot of time between now and the World Cup. We will try out different combinations till then and identify our best 15,” Misbah said this while talking to the sports journalists here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Monday.

The head coach said that Babar Azam is a powerful captain and he makes his own decisions. “Babar Azam is a powerful captain, who makes his own decisions. We never interfere in his matters but we often give him advices. Everyone makes mistakes but one should learn from them. We all have to back him in this journey to help him emerge as a successful skipper,” he added. 

In the absence of the head coach, a slew of appointments at domestic level were made, which as per some reports, hadn’t impressed the chief selector, who purportedly wasn’t consulted, and Misbah admitted that he wasn’t kept in the loop but intends to discuss the domestic business with National High Performance Centre Director Nadeem Khan.  

“I could not get involved in the domestic cricket matters here as I was busy with the team in England. But now I will sit with Nadeem Khan and discuss how things were done and how they could be done even better. When you are in a professional setup, the names do not bother anyone. You have to work together and adjust. It doesn’t matter what anyone has said in the past. If you keep the past in the mind, you wouldn’t be able to work,” he added.  

Defending Pakistan cricket team’s performance under him, Misbah clarified that although the national team have slipped from No 1 to No 4 in T20 ranking, yet the slide had begun long before he took over. “Of course, the team was No 1 but if you recall, when I took over the charge, the team was on a losing spree. It had already lost in South Africa, England and other places. The slide had already begun and everyone knows the reason behind it. 

“The main reason behind this decline was lack of form as many players including Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan and Hasan Ali, who had played key role in rising up the team’s ranking, couldn’t perform up to the mark, and when they went into a slump, the team also felt that dip. But now we are trying to help them regain lost form and get back to that level. There is always room for improvement. The current results may not be what’s desired but overall, the process is up to my satisfaction and it seems that we are on right track,” he asserted. 

The former captain also defended the team’s young pace battery saying that mistakes made as seen in the first Test defeat are part of the learning curve and inevitable. “Our young pacers are inexperienced and there is a dire need to provide them room and opportunities. If you take that one session out, it becomes evident that our inexperience made up panic. The same thing happened in the second T20 when one of our bowlers got injured, we panicked slightly. The more they play, the better they will be,” Misbah concluded.