LAHORE: Pakistan’s head coach-cum-chief selector Misbahul Haq was not impressed with Karachi Kings’ opener Sharjeel Khan’s fitness in the fifth edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) While speaking with reporters in a teleconference on Tuesday, the 45-year-old advised the left-handed opener to get leaner in order to improve his fitness. “I don’t doubt Sharjeel’s potential as an opener as he can play at a strike rate of 150. However, he needs a lot of work on his fitness, which he has time for now,” Misbah said. “He also needs to lose weight which will eventually improve his fitness. Sharjeel needs to keep in mind that his fitness needs to be at the same level as other players in the team. Once he meets the standard required for international cricket, only then he will be considered for national selection. I am confident that Sharjeel will focus on improving his fitness.” Misbah was full of praise for Peshawar Zalmi’s Haider Ali and said that the rookie batsman had proved to be a quality batsman at all levels. “Haider Ali had already made a name for himself after performing in domestic and junior level cricket. Even in Under 19 cricket, his performances were outstanding,” he said. “Now he has impressed everyone in T20 cricket as well with his batting in PSL. He is someone who can play quality strokes against any kind of bowler. Azam Khan also played some solid innings which shows his temperament. However, he needs to lose weight and improve his fitness level,” he added. “Khushdil Shah was superb. We are thinking about Nos. 5 and 6 (for Pakistan). We need a finisher and Khushdil’s performance in PSL reached a certain level, and he is seriously under consideration. It is a good sign that we have players who are proving the worth and we have readymade players at bench.”Misbah also responded on criticism regarding Islamabad United’s performance, who finished at the bottom of the points table, in PSL 5. “I’m not disappointed over the fact that I decided to coach Islamabad United because we played good cricket overall,” he said. “Some things, such as rain interruptions, also did not go our way. We lost one match on DLS despite scoring nearly 200 runs. It was closely fought tournament and had we won our last game, people would not have been saying things about our side that they are now.” Misbah has high expectations from Shadab Khan the batsman while saying his bowling still needed “improvement and consistency”. In addition to legspin, his primary skill, Shadab was in excellent form for Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League, scoring three-half-centuries in his 263 runs at a strike rate of 159. “Shadab as an allrounder is a plus for us, especially in white ball cricket.”Consider this break a chance to strengthen yourself: Misbah also has one bit of advice for his players: think of the Convid-19 break as a “chance to reinvigorate yourself.” The break, Misbah feels, will help players recharge their batteries away from the otherwise ceaseless workload of the game, and make them hungrier than ever when cricket eventually resumes. “Going forward, I feel mentally what players are thinking is the most important aspect,” Misbah said. “I will be emphasising that you’ve got to believe in yourself and stay positive. Yes, it’s a tough situation but at the same time consider this break a chance to reinvigorate yourself. Several players have been playing consistently and we all need a break from the load of cricket. We will be speaking with players and instilling this in their mind that you are not going to forget your basics, and your game and skillsets will remain with you. All you have to do is analyse yourself, and we will help them with feedback from watching their videos. This break will basically spark more hunger in them, and they will want to play with heart when they return to action.” Misbah also suggested extending the time span of the ICC World Test Championship with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing all cricketing activities to a halt and potentially throwing the international schedule haywire. “I just think that all teams must get equal opportunities in the championship even if matches are rescheduled,” he maintained. “Whenever cricket resumes all teams should get equal opportunity in the ICC World Test Championship to try to play in the final. The tournament can be extended beyond 2021,” he said. According to the original schedule, the inaugural competition runs from 2019-2021. Pakistan had to postpone a Test of the championship against Bangladesh at home following the coronavirus outbreak earlier this month. Misbah also said that if teams didn’t get equal opportunity to play in the championship, results would not be fair.