LAHORE - Teams have realised the importance of experience in Twenty20 cricket and aging players are no longer considered misfits in the rip-roaring format, according to Pakistan's Test and one-day international captain Misbah-ul-Haq. The 39-year-old, who has been Pakistan's leading run-scorer in Tests and ODIs since the start of last year, was ditched by his board and selectors from cricket's shortest format in 2012 with the younger M Hafeez taking over as captain.
Possibly feeling he still had plenty to offer, Misbah pointed out that many teams have included players in their mid-thirties or older at the ongoing World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. "Until recently the belief was that T20 cricket is for youth but you look at this event and you can see teams think differently now," he told reporters. "Teams realise that like in other formats of the game there is need to have a balance of youth and experience."
Misbah has continued to play T20 cricket at domestic level with considerable success and said his achievements proved older players had a big role to play in the shortest format of the game. "Australia and West Indies are both strong contenders for the title and both have opted for plenty of experience when you look at their sides," he said.
Australia have certainly plumped for experience over youth in an attempt to win a maiden World T20 title by selecting veteran trio Brad Hogg, Brad Hodge and Brad Haddin in their 15-man squad. Spinner Hogg is 43 while batsman Hodge is 39 years old. Wicketkeeper-batsman Haddin, a regular across all formats for Australia, is aged 36.
"It is good to see older players in the T20 format as this means their careers will be prolonged with so many leagues now being held round the year," Misbah added. Pakistan recently beat a Virat Kohli-led India, in the absence of regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, in the 50-over format Asia Cup but there were no favourites for Misbah in Friday's highly-anticipated clash between the sides in Mirpur. "There is little to choose between the two sides but while we (Pakistan) have good all-round strength India has been boosted with the return of their captain Dhoni," he said.
Misbah warned his teammates to be wary of traditional rivals India, who he feels will be a different side after the return of Dhoni.
"Dhoni is a big stabilising force for India and his return means that Pakistan will have to work much harder to get that win over India tomorrow," he said.
Misbah said it will be a completely new game irrespective of the fact that Pakistan had defeated India in the Asia Cup recently. "I wouldn't read much into India's results in the Asia Cup because T20 is a different format and requires a different approach. Dhoni's return is a big boost for them as he has lot of experience and has led them wisely. He knows how to get the best out of his players," he said.
Misbah pointed out that Dhoni himself is a terrific T20 cricketer. "I think Pakistan will need to focus a lot more on team work than individual performances to beat India after Dhoni's return. The good thing is that the conditions in Bangladesh are good for the Pakistani batsmen and they should be comfortable batting first or even chasing," he added.