Lahore: Pakistan's one-day and Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq has said he will continue to play Twenty20 cricket despite being stripped of the captaincy for the short format and wants to be selected for the World Cup.
"I enjoy playing T20 cricket and I will continue to play at the domestic level. I have not given up hope of playing in the ICC World Cup in Sri Lanka this year. If required, I am available," Misbah, who turns 38 next week, told reporters on Friday.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) named Mohammad Hafeez as captain of the national Twenty20 team last week and dropped Misbah from the squad. Misbah said it was the PCB's decision to appoint a younger captain for the Twenty20 format and he wished Hafeez well. "Hafeez will be my vice-captain in the other formats and we already have a good understanding. We will work together to get the best possible results," he said.
The senior batsman also said he was not disappointed at the decision to appoint Hafeez. "My job now is to focus on the other two formats of the sport and ensure that as a team we improve our performance and rankings," Misbah said. "If we are at the top of our game on the coming tour to Sri Lanka, we can do this. We have to be at our best in all departments because Sri Lanka are a tough opponent no matter where you play them, and in their own country they are even tougher."
Pakistan beat Sri Lanka 1-0 in Tests and 4-1 in the one-day series in the United Arab Emirates last year, but their last tour to the island in 2009 ended in defeats in both forms of the game. Pakistan will play two Twenty20s, five one-day internationals and three Tests on the tour, starting with a T20 in Hambantota on June 1. The Pakistan selectors have decided to have separate Test, one-day and T20 squads for next month's tour of Sri Lanka.
Misbah, who has played 34 Tests, 89 one-day-internationals and 39 Twenty20 matches, said the tour would be tough but his team had the potential to improve their ranking. "As a team we have progressed well in the last year and I am please at the progress we have made in fielding and fitness in particular," the batsman said.
In March, Pakistan hired former Surrey fielding coach Julian Fountain to give them a lift in that department, but Misbah insisted it had been a priority for some time. "Whether it was under Waqar Younis [former coach] and Ijaz Ahmed [fielding coach], everyone did a good job. It is good to have a specialist fielding coach [Julian Fountain] with us now."
Pakistan have not lost a Test series since the tour to England in 2010. Under Misbah's captaincy they have had victories over New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and England. Pakistan have also drawn series with South Africa and West Indies.