Lahore    -    Pakistan’s middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq has said that he, along with Azhar Ali, wants to fill the gap of batting greats Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan in Test cricket.

Talking to the journalists here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday, Shafiq said: “I admit that veteran batsman Azhar Ali and I didn’t play that many big innings, which the duo of Misbah and Younus used to establish. However, we know that after their retirement, we have to take the responsibility and we are working hard to fill that gap.”

Shafiq said the national team players are focusing on improving their fitness and learning a lot under Misbah’s supervision. He rejected the notion that Misbah is too strict to become the team’s new head coach as he appeared to back the latter’s candidacy for the vacant position. “I have played with Misbah-ul-Haq for five-six years, and I never found him too strict. He doesn’t compromise on some things which he should. Like on fitness he doesn’t compromise. Even here he is working us hard. He also sits with the juniors and teaches us. He is very cooperative if you give your 100 per cent,” he added.

About reports of separate captaincy in Test format, the batsman said that the matter is up to the PCB to decide, whether they want to change the captain or not. “Nobody knows who is going to be the captain as this is up to the cricket board. At the moment, Sarfraz is our captain and he has our support,” he said.

To a query regarding his low average in Test format which is 38.94, Shafiq said the lack of runs have more to do with his batting position, which would improve as he bat higher in the coming matches. “For the first five, six years of my international career, I have batted at the number sixth slot, and one major disadvantage of batting such lower is that you don’t get more chance of piling massive runs,” he said.

Shafiq said that performing in domestic circuit is his top priority, whereas his selection in the national team is purely up to the PCB. “My job is to improve my fitness, game and performances and I am working hard on it. If the PCB and selectors considers me, I will not disappoint them and will try to play some crucial innings in the upcoming assignments to strengthen my position in the team.”

Replying to another query, the middle-order batsman said: “By now I am largely considered as a long-format batsman but fans have not necessarily seen the last of mine in the ODIs. I have been playing one-day in domestic cricket and my performance is also good. I am not closing any doors on myself. It’s up to the selectors what they do. I try and take my game in the direction that modern cricket is going. I am always looking for ways to become a better batsman.”