Gul, Junaid, Irfan key to Pak’s success in India: Misbah

Kolkata: Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq on Thursday said the pace trio of Umar Gul, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan played a crucial role in Pakistan's first ODI series win in India since 2004-05.

Pakistan's pace department once again rocked the famed Indian batting line-up to hand the visitors an 85-run win in the second ODI at the Eden Gardens here, which enabled them to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

"We got the edge for the quality of our bowling. Indian batsmen are struggling for quite a long time. But I think our bowlers exploited the conditions better. Normally we get flat pitches here in India. But both the pitches – in Chennai and Kolkata – were challenging for batsmen," he said.

"It's mainly because of our fast bowlers' spell in the middle overs we won the match here."

"With the pitch and the batting line-up, we thought 290-300 would have been a good total but 250 was a fighting total. It was important to bowl well as 250 was not a winning score," he added.

Misbah said it was really a good time for Pakistan cricket as their struggling bowling attack finally started to produce results under trying circumstances.

"I really feel happy for Pakistan. The happiest thing was that before the start of the series we were struggling in our fast bowling department, but here all the three fast bowlers did really well. It's a positive thing. The way we are playing as a team is a big achievement," he said.

Pakistan's ODI series win over India came in the backdrop of the team's 3-0 Test victory over England and the Asia Cup triumph.

"A win against India is always big. We had lost to them in the World Cup. This is a big win and a 3-0 margin (by winning in Delhi on January 6) will be a big achievement," Misbah said.

Misbah also credited coach Dav Whatmore for Pakistan's recent string of success.

Whatmore became Pakistan's coach after the team's 3-0 win over England under Mohsin Khan's guidance.

"He (Whatmore) is working hard with the team. He has changed the attitude of the team. He is backing the captains – (Mohammad) Hafeez and me, and also the players. Things are getting better under him," he said.

"We always tried to be strong mentally. It was important to rope in a psychologist to get the side out of the mental barrier, especially in a short tour," Misbah said about the appointment of Maqbool Babri as the team's psychologist before the tour to India.

Asked whether Pakistan prefers a foreign coach over a domestic one, he said, "Whoever maybe the coach, he's here to improve our side be it foreigner or domestic. It depends on the players' attitude to work under him."

On the failure of their middle order after an excellent opening stand of 141 runs between Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed, Misbah said: "The conditions were difficult but we could get this score with the way our openers started on these conditions."

"The key is partnerships. We could not get going in the middle. It's difficult to get going in these conditions if you lose wickets, so our middle orders could not capitalise. But the openers batted well and scored with six-plus run over."

He handpicked back-to-back centurion Nasir Jamshed for special praise and termed the elegant left-hander as a bright prospect for Pakistan.

"It's happy to see a youngster show maturity. He is trying to bat 50 overs. There is talent no doubt but he is showing amazing temperament which is the key. He has bright future," Misbah said about Jamshed, who scored a magnificent 106 on Thursday to claim the man-of-the-match award.