Misbah has replied to critics with his performances

Pakistan cricket team manager Intikhab Alam said that Misbah-ul-Haq has responded back strongly to the criticism directed at him and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) when he was appointed the captain for the Test series against South Africa.

"I think he has shown with his own performances and the way he has led the team that he is a strong character. He has responded to the criticism with his performances," Alam told reporters at the Lahore airport on the national team`s arrival from Abu Dhabi after the Test series against South Africa ended in a draw.

Pakistan lost the T20 and One-day series but managed to draw the Test series with Misbah scoring three half-centuries in the two Tests.

"There was lot of pressure on the team before the series because of the criticism over recalling Misbah and appointing him as captain. But I am really happy that he proved the critics wrong by improving his performance and leading the team ably," said Alam.

Misbah was recalled after a six-month period on the sidelines, to lead the team.

The former Test captain also expressed his satisfaction over the behaviour of the players on the tour and the atmosphere in the dressing room.

"This series and tour was very significant for Pakistan cricket because it came after the England tour and after the spot-fixing controversy. I think the players responded very well to the new dressing room culture," he said.

Alam said that while the team`s performance in the series could be termed as satisfactory but they would face a tough test during the upcoming tour to New Zealand.

"The conditions in New Zealand are very different and pose a lot of challenge for the batsmen. But I think this team now has a nice blend of youth and experience and it is working well for us," Alam said.

Pakistan is scheduled to tour New Zealand from December 17 to play three T20 matches, two Tests and six ODIs – their last international outing before the 2011 World Cup.

The Pakistan manager had no doubt that the boys have gained confidence by drawing the Tests against South Africa and playing a close one-day series.

"There is no doubt that the team has missed the services of Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif but it is a good thing that we have ample back up in the pace department and I think Umar Gul, Tanveer Ahmed, Wahab Riaz and Sami handled the pressure well and delivered.

He said the fitness situation of senior batsman Mohammad Yousuf would be known soon but the training camp for the New Zealand would start from December 7.

Yousuf returned home with a groin injury after playing just one ODI and missed the Test series.

He conceded that the Zulqarnain Haider issue had soured the series and also upset the boys but they recovered well to remain focussed on cricket.