Captain Misbah lauds Pakistan achieving No. 1 test ranking

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has paid credit to his players and their families for earning test cricket's No. 1 ranking while exiled from playing home matches for seven years.

After rising to No. 1 last month, Misbah was handed the test mace by International Cricket Council chief executive David Richardson at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Wednesday.

"It's one of the best days in my life, it's the happiest day in my cricketing career, and I congratulate everyone who has been part of this achievement, and part of this journey," Misbah said.

"Credit should be given to the families. The families of the players really sacrificed lot of things ... we have to play almost six-seven months out of country, and that's difficult."

Pakistan has played its 'home' tests in the United Arab Emirates since 2009, when Sri Lanka's team was attacked by terrorists in Lahore. Since then, most teams have refused to tour Pakistan.

"We are playing away matches and are not playing where we are brought up; even Dubai and Abu Dhabi are foreign soil," Misbah said.

Zimbabwe is the only test-playing team which has toured Pakistan since 2009, but that was only for a three-match limited-overs series, also in Lahore, last year.

Misbah has been instrumental in reshaping Pakistan after the 2010 spot-fixing scandal in which three players were banned for five years. Misbah took over the captaincy, and has become Pakistan's most successful test skipper. Among his achievements were leading the team to whitewashes of England and Australia in test series in the UAE. Last month, they drew with England 2-2 in England.

Richardson stressed Misbah's captaincy was one of the reasons Pakistan has achieved the No. 1 test ranking for the first time since the rankings were introduced in 2003. Revised rankings showed Pakistan would also have been on top in 1988 on current measures.

"This is a remarkable achievement given that the last 24 series had all been played away from Pakistan's borders," Richardson said.

Pakistan faces a stern test to stay No. 1 in the coming months. India is the biggest threat as it could become No. 1 if it beats New Zealand in a three-test series at home starting this week.

The ICC will award $1 million to the team which is No. 1 on April 1, 2017, and Pakistan has at least three series " against West Indies, New Zealand, and Australia " before then.

"West Indies is unpredictable like Pakistan, they can be so strong on a given day, so we really can't say they are an easy side," Misbah said.

"Then two tough tours. New Zealand has a strong side, especially at home, and then Australia ... I hope we can be competitive there and prove ourselves where normally teams from Asia struggle."

Richardson said it was not in the hands of the ICC to convince other nations that it's safe to tour Pakistan, but hoped the government and the Pakistan Cricket Board can convince foreign teams to resume tours.

"Circumstances in the world really have got quite difficult from a security point of view, (and) Pakistan has been probably hardest hit than any other country," Richadson said.

"It's not me or the ICC that needs to be convinced. It's the security consultants who are advising the players, who are advising the teams, and that's really out of our control.

"I know that the Pakistan government and the PCB are doing whatever they can to try and persuade the people and make the security situation better in Pakistan. Pretty soon we'll get to a situation where teams are willing to play international cricket in Pakistan."

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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