Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed on Monday revealed that the criticism following his team’s sub-par performance against India had prompted the team to sit together, analyse their performance, talk through their mistakes and express determination not to repeat them.
Sarfaraz, in a post-match reflection, was effusive in his praise for Haris Sohail who had scored 81 runs from 68 balls in Pakistan’s crucial fixture against South Africa on Sunday night.
Sohail had not been the first pick for the team and had been made to sit out every World Cup game except the one against the West Indies.
Although Head Coach Mickey Arthur explained earlier that the team opted for Shoaib Malik after the Windies game since Sohail had “other issues that need to be continuously worked at”, the skipper said that he had been dropped “because we wanted to play with a particular combination”.
“He has a very wise head on his shoulders that helps him to construct his innings and accelerate at the right time with clean and precise hitting. It is just unfortunate that his career has been marred by injuries.”
Speaking further about the match he said, “We put up a good total on the board and knew we needed early wickets to put pressure on South Africa. We knew Shadab Khan would come into the equation as Imran Tahir had also got grip from the pitch.”
“Mohammad Amir picked up Hashim Amla very early in the innings and, though Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis added 87 runs for the second wicket, we kept them in check.”
Praising Shadab, the skipper said, “Shadab once again proved why he is a champion bowler when he accounted for de Kock and Aiden Markram, before Amir returned to dismiss du Plessis and move to the top of the bowlers’ chart with Jofra Archer and Mitchell Starc.”
The skipper rounded out his ideas about team’s performance with praise of Wahab Riaz, whose pace and controlled swing destroyed the lower-order to finish off the good work that was started earlier in the day by the Pakistani batsmen.
However, Sarfaraz conceded, “fielding has been a worry”.
“We have to lift it tremendously. We dropped too many catches against South Africa, some straightforward and some half-chances. So, over the next few days, we are going to intensify our extra drills and try to improve our ground and aerial fielding.”
Talking about the future plans, he said, “Our next opponent is New Zealand. We know they are a dangerous side, so we have to improve our Lord’s performance, set a platform in batting, take early wickets in bowling and hold catches. That will set the tone.”
“Our win is not an answer to the critics. We are here to play cricket and, like any other side, believe we can win the World Cup. We always do our best effort on Wednesday and all the remaining matches.”