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Australia vs Pakistan 2019: Misbah-ul-Haq asks bowlers to target Steven Smith's 'blind spot' 

Aakash Arya
Modified 21 Dec 2019, 01:05 IST

Misbah-ul-Haq (left)
Misbah-ul-Haq (left)

Talking about one of the biggest mysteries of the modern-day cricket, Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq has claimed he has the answer to stop the inexplicable technique of Steve Smith by targetting his 'bind spot'. 

Talking to the reporters ahead of their first Test at the Gabba from November 21, Misbah-u-Haq has called for the batsman’s ‘blind spot’ to be hit on a consistent basis. According to the former Pakistan captain, a delivery hitting the top of off-stump can trouble any batsmen on any kind of surface. He explained:

"As far as Steve Smith goes, there's a blind spot for every top batsman in the world; as a bowler you're always interested in pitching the ball there."
"All the batsmen you talk to, any batsman in the world, that's the area where you have to defend a ball, and that is a six-to-eight-metre spot where you have to play the top of off stump. That's the area from where if it's happening then that creates a great chance. Even if it's not happening, you have less chances to do anything with the ball.”

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Smith’s sublime form this year, post his return from the ban, has made him the centre of attraction for all opposition bowlers and getting him out early is what the Pakistan camp will be hoping for. However, the Pakistan head coach showed no nerves while tackling questions on how the young Pakistan bowling line-up will fare against the grit of Smith. He stated that maintaining discipline as a bowler and hitting the right areas will take this young side a long way in the series. He said:

"But I still believe if you get good pace behind the ball and just put it in the right areas, you can create chances. That's what we are looking for, and I think they can, the way Naseem is bowling at the moment, Shaheen is very important with the new ball especially, he gets some movement in the air and off the seam also. We hope that they can do it, but you need to be very, very disciplined.”
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
"Then it comes to plan B and plan C, if it is not happening then where you're going to attack him. Let's see, there are good signs for us that a young bowling attack like this, they start understanding what they need to do here. It's big pressure when they just go in a Test match, that's a big learning for them. If they can replicate that in the game scenario then these fast bowlers will be a great asset for Pakistan. The kind of form he is in, there's no doubt Steve Smith is a batting genius. We will try our best to execute our plans and dismiss him.”

Speaking about the form of his premier batsman Babar Azam, Misbah-ul-Haq said that the prolific run-scorer has come a long way since the difficult South Africa series where he had started showing signs of maturity and improvement. Azam’s form will probably determine the fate of this Pakistani squad and this is where the weight of expectations will have to be managed.

Babar Azam
Babar Azam

A good knock of 157 runs against Australia A by Babar Azam can be seen as good signs for Pakistan cricket, but Misbah-ul-Haq knows well that a good balance of sensible and attacking cricket was the need of the hour for his side. He said:

"Babar Azam did both the things there - he punished the poor deliveries and respected the bowlers when it was required. He batted with a lot of maturity there. It's not just aggression, aggression and aggression, he has a very balanced approach. He puts the short balls away and even respects the good deliveries whenever he had to. He is ready to play that sort of a long innings in Tests.”
"He is very important. I think the way he is playing these days, the most important thing for a batsman is how confident you are, especially after South Africa and those were difficult pitches when Pakistan played last series. The way he played good and attacking cricket there, he has changed totally as a batsman. He understands conditions and here the conditions for batting are a lot better.

In the last tour of Australia in 2016/17, Babar Azam scored only 68 runs in three matches at an average of 11.33.

Published 19 Nov 2019, 17:53 IST
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