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Pakistan revel in rare show of unity

AFP
Jan 21, 2012 at 12:01am IST

Dubai: For many years, Pakistan's biggest rivals were not their opponents but their own players.

Castigated for a lack of unity, consistency and awareness of the pitfalls in the game, some of Pakistan's most talented players went into oblivion.

The spot-fixing scandal of 2010 destroyed the careers of three of Pakistan's most exciting talents in Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir.

Pakistan revel in rare show of unity

Since the spot-fixing scandal, Pakistan's decision to appoint Misbah as captain has proved right.

Instead of trading on their enormous talent, the three are now serving jail sentences on charges of defrauding bookmakers by bowling deliberate no-balls during the Lord's Test against England two years ago.

Meanwhile, express paceman Shoaib Akhtar fell well short of being remembered for his bowling, with failed dope tests and skirmishes with his own teammates as well as his country's cricket board.

But since the spot-fixing scandal, Pakistan's decision to appoint Misbah-ul Haq as captain has proved inspired and the team has not looked back, beating the world's best team England by 10 wickets in the first Test on Thursday.

Misbah said he has tried to introduce the missing virtues of unity, discipline and focus into the team.

"The biggest virtue of this team is focus and once you focus on the job in hand, which we have done in the past 18 months, you tend to do well," said Misbah, who has not lost a Test series since taking over in October 2010.

Misbah said every player is selfless, quoting an example of the third day in the first Test against England.

"You can judge the unity by the fact that Abdul Rehman himself came to me and asked to be replaced by Saeed Ajmal so that he (Ajmal) could get the third wicket needed to complete his 10 in the match," Misbah revealed.

Ajmal, who took a career-best 7-55 in the first innings, completed a 10-wicket match haul as Pakistan dismissed England for 160 before scoring the 15 runs needed for victory.

That gave Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series. The second Test starts in Abu Dhabi from January 25.

Former coach Waqar Younis and the current interim coach Mohsin Khan also played their parts admirably.

"Before taking over, I told the players that they needed to be focused, avoid anything which could bring a bad name to the country and show unity off and on the field and I am happy that they have done this," said Mohsin.

Misbah believes the win against England will put Pakistan on the right track.

"We are trying to become the best team in the world," said Misbah, 37.

"We want to be on the top. We know we are still a long way off but we have the will and the focus to become the world's best."

The lack of management on the part of cricket administration has also been Pakistan's weak point, often derailing team's progress in the past.

But since the spot-fixing scandal, the International Cricket Council came down hard on the Pakistan Cricket Board, forcing them to put in place strict measures.

And the team's successes, coupled with a new sense of discipline, have given them a chance to put their cricket house in order.

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