Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed on Thursday said that the team’s next big target is to be consistent in their performances in limited overs cricket.
Pakistan’s unparalleled comeback in the 2017 Champions Trophy saw them convincingly beat India in the final after a dismal start to the campaign, but the wicketkeeper-batsman thinks there is still room for improvement.
“Pakistani fans now expect a lot from us after we’ve won the Champions Trophy,” he said. “And we did talk about it while coming back to Pakistan [from England] that we need to bring consistency in the team’s performances. Our next target is to improve further and you will see good results in the future.”
The 30-year-old, who led the team to their first major ICC trophy after eight years, believes the bravery shown by players during the tournament had led the foundations of revival of cricket fever in Pakistan.
“The way we won the tournament, it helped us revive cricket fever in Pakistan. The kids are more attracted towards the sport now. It was a win for the country, no one man can be credited for it alone,” Sarfraz explained.
He also cleared the air about a spat with the senior players in the team. “The coordination with seniors — Shoaib bhai and Hafeez bhai — is great. I always ask them for suggestions and they always help.”
He added that seniors are an important part of a team’s plans. “You cannot let senior players go if new talent is coming up,” he said. “Our team has a very nice combination of senior and junior players. Senior players are needed to guide juniors in pressure situations.
On Misbah, Younus, Test captaincy
Sarfraz was appointed Test captain since the position was left vacant after Misbahul Haq’s retirement post West Indies series.
Another veteran batsman Younus Khan also hung his boots leaving Pakistan’s middle-order longing for experience but Sarfraz believes he has the men who can take the team forward in the duo’s absence.
“It would take time to fill the void left by Misbah and Younus,” said Sarfraz. “They always led from the front when the Test team faced a difficult situation.”
“Captaining a Test side is different. The game changes every day and you have to plan accordingly. But I have hope in Azhar [Ali], Asad [Shafiq] and Babar [Azam] that they will be able to guide the team forward in the absence of Misbah and Younus,” he added.
Return of international cricket
Sarfraz was quite vocal about reviving cricket in Pakistan after they won the Champions Trophy after beating top teams such as South Africa, England, India and Sri Lanka.
He reiterated his stance by quoting England as a country where security issues don’t interfere in cricketing schedules.
“I told the international teams to recognize Pakistan after we won the Champions Trophy,” he said. “Pakistan’s loss has been the greatest because we haven’t played in our country in the last nine years. We do play in the UAE but it is a different feeling playing in your country. Teams are playing in England despite a lot of issues there, likewise they should visit Pakistan too. I hope cricket will soon revive in Pakistan.”