New Zealand cricket coach John Wright has made in form Pakistan batsman Misbah ul Haq the focal point for his side on the eve of the crucial fifth one day cricket international between the two sides. New Zealand trail Pakistan 1-2 after four matches and need to win in Hamilton on Thursday to keep the series alive, going into Saturday's final match in Auckland.
Misbah has been the key difference between the two sides and Wright has told his batsmen to study and analyse the master strokemaker's unbeaten 93, which set up Pakistan's two wicket win in the fourth match in Napier on Tuesday.
"His was exactly the type of innings we need," Wright said. "I think throughout this series he's been their glue, and we probably need some glue." In six innings so far in the Test and one day series, Misbah has passed 50 five times with an average of 115.50 in the Tests (62, 99, 70no) and 89 in the one dayers (50, 35, 93no).
Wright said New Zealand would need at least two of their top order batsmen to produce an innings of substance. "The answer is clearly that we have to start generating some runs and the boys are aware of that. They're trying real hard and they can play."
Meanwhile, the 36 year old Misbah believes he is in the best form of his career. "I'm really enjoying this form and I'm really enjoying New Zealand, I'm happy that my performances are doing a good job for the team," he said. "Cricket is all about confidence and at the moment the confidence is high, that's why the form is good and I'm scoring runs."
Misbah's golden form is not the only problem facing New Zealand as there are concerns over captain Daniel Vettori, who tweaked a hamstring in Tuesday's fourth match in Napier. However, Jesse Ryder is expected to start after being withdrawn in Napier because of a finger injury.
"We'd be pretty hopeful about Jesse," Wright said. "I'm not quite so sure about Dan, I think it's just general stiffness but we'll have to have a look. He's probably more uncertain but we've got a physio who is very experienced so we'll act on the expert's advice."
Wright is also keen to end the player rotation system New Zealand have used in the Pakistan series, saying the time for experimentation is over if New Zealand are to have a chance of taking the series. "I think we need to go with our frontline side, injuries permitting", Wright said.
"I've always believed at this level you pick your best side, that tends to solve a lot of problems because you have your best chance of winning and getting some momentum going.