LAHORE-Pakistan cannot dwell on their defeat by England in the first Test at Old Trafford as it would make it tougher for them to respond in the next two matches, coach Misbah-ul-Haq has said. 

England sealed an unlikely three-wicket victory on Saturday after slumping to 117-5 at one point in their pursuit of 277, as Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 139 runs to turn the tide. “We are feeling frustrated, just as the fans are, after the Old Trafford Test match but this is how cricket is. There are very small margins between victory and defeat and it’s easy to curse yourself when you’ve lost,” Misbah wrote in his column on the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) website here on Monday. 

“But, we should remember that we were right on top until pretty much the last session of the game and we played very good cricket. Sure, we need to improve 10 to 15 per cent and deal with pressure situations a little better but we shouldn’t be mentally down. There is disappointment, of course, but we must not keep that feeling in our minds, otherwise, it will be difficult to come back but the team believes we can fight back.

“It was a thrilling Test match and full credit must go to England for the way they fought back, came from behind and took the game away from us. There is disappointment, of course, but we must not keep that feeling in our minds otherwise it will be difficult to come back... the team believes we can fight back. Sometimes luck doesn’t favour you, sometimes the opposition plays well – that’s the beauty of the game,” the head coach added. 

The former captain said: “There has been debate about whether we could have bowled more short stuff or we could have bowled Shadab Khan earlier. Maybe so, but you also have to remember that Woakes and Buttler did have quite a lot of luck in that partnership. A lot of balls went here and there, into no man’s land. If one of those goes to a fielder then the situation could have been very different. We still need to improve, of course, but overall we fought really well against a top team in our first international fixture for six months.”

Misbah praised opener Shan Masood, who scored 156 in the first innings, as well as pacemen Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah who picked up two wickets each. “It was a brave decision to bat first against England’s bowling attack in those conditions,” the 46-year-old said. “Shan Masood batted really well and... should be given a lot of credit for his innings. He’s been working so hard... he’s changed a few things in his setup. He’s a different batsman. The bowling was also excellent. It’s a young seam attack, apart from Mohammad Abbas, and both Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah did really well.” 

About the standard of bowling during the first Test, the head coach said: “The bowling of the national team was also excellent. It’s a young seam attack, apart from Mohammad Abbas, and both Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah did really well. Yasir Shah bowled well in both innings and it’s great to see him back in such good form after a period of struggle. Those are positive signs for us. We fielded well, which was another plus, and Mohammad Rizwan was outstanding behind the stumps.”

“All the bowlers seem fine at the moment. They bowled a decent amount of overs but not too much so I don’t think there are issues of fatigue at the moment. But let’s see how everybody is feeling just before the match, how the conditions are and we will decide accordingly,” he added. 

Speaking about the England tour, Misbah said: “This is an unusual tour, of course, but we are feeling very happy and comfortable in the ‘bubble’. We are spending a lot of time together, which has allowed the group to bond well. We eat all our meals together and have enjoyed some very competitive games of table tennis and pool! There are some excellent table tennis players in the group, particularly Imam-ul-Haq and Imad Wasim. 

“My message to the fans is that you have given us excellent support from back home so far and we thank you for that. Please keep supporting Pakistan and we will do our best to come back in this series, which I really believe this team is capable of doing,” the head coach concluded.