Pakistan coach Misbah-ul-Haq finds himself under pressure to produce results as his team prepare to face South Africa in a two-match Test series.
Misbah was appointed coach and chief selector in September 2019 but has since been replaced as the head of the national selection panel, and rumours abound that he is set to be axed from the former role.
Misbah backed into a corner
Since taking charge of the team Misbah has seen Pakistan lose five of the ten Test matches they have played with their only wins in the format coming at home against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
A creditable performance in England has since been overshadowed by a dismal display in New Zealand where the team misfired in all three departments of the game.
While the Pakistan Cricket Board have denied rumours that former Zimbabwe captain and England coach Andy Flower has been lined up to replace Misbah, they have confirmed that his performance as coach will be reviewed after the series against South Africa.
“The news of Misbah’s removal holds no truth. No deal has been signed with anyone,” PCB CEO Wasim Khan said in response to reports that Flower was in line to take over the team.
“We have made everything clear to Misbah in the last committee meeting. His performance will be reviewed after South Africa series in the meeting scheduled to be held on February 15 or 16.”
Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has claimed that the decision to replace Misbah has already been made and that Flower will step in after the staging of the Pakistan Super League.
“PCB has already offered Andy Flower the head coach job. He is not accepting it due to his coaching commitment with Multan Sultans. But once PSL is over, he’ll take over,” Akhtar said on his YouTube channel. “The decision to sack Misbah is already taken. They are not giving him any chance.”
There are major questions about who is running Pakistan’s ship with skipper Babar Azam, reportedly given the final say on team selection while Mohammad Wasim has performed the duties of chief selector for the first time for the series against South Africa.
Former chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq was among the fiercest critics of the group which features nine uncapped players including 36-year-old seamer Tabish Khan.
Inzamam slammed the team selection as lacking vision.
“Selection is the name of vision for the next two years. Your vision defines your selection, “he said. “In the team announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), [the] selection committee headed by Mohammad Wasim showed no vision at all.
“No one can say that this team can beat any good side. You can prepare big turners against South Africa to win matches but you can’t groom players for future series and that is the most depressing part of this selection.
“Can anyone tell me Tabish Khan who is a pacer and is over 36 would go on to improve from here? Even a batsman reaching this age can’t be selected for the very first time for a Test side.
“Haris Rauf is another example. He has played three first-class matches only taking just seven wickets and you have named him in the Test squad,” Inzamam added.
Misbah appears to be on shaky ground and even a series win against South Africa may not be enough to save his job.