Pakistan’s limited-overs captain Sarfraz Ahmed has admitted that the loss of Sharjeel Khan is a blow to his squad but has backed the newcomers to fill the void on the upcoming tour of the West Indies.
Sharjeel, in the past 12 months, had emerged as a potent weapon up the order but was suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board for his alleged part in the infamous spot-fixing scandal during the first week of the Pakistan Super League.
“It’s saddening when you lose some players who are perfect for the setup,” said Sarfraz while talking to reporters at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. “Sharjeel was the type of player who we needed as he was perfect for the contemporary run-and-gun style of cricket.”
To lose a player of his quality, says Sarfraz, a bitter blow, but one his team is prepared to overcome. “He isn’t with us anymore so of course it will affect us but I have full faith in the newcomers and they will translate their domestic form at international level.”
The skipper also insisted that the decision to drop his predecessor Azhar Ali from the team altogether doesn’t mean his career is necessarily over.
“He [Azhar] hasn’t been discarded or forced out; if that was the case then he would not have been in the training camp either,” explained Sarfraz. “We simply wanted to benefit from the purple patch of in-form players, which is why we picked top domestic performers.”
Sarfraz did, however, fire a warning in the direction of Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir to up their game in the Caribbean as the senior members of a pace unit that hasn’t delivered the goods on their recent travels.
“We have talked to our senior pacers [Wahab and Amir] that they now have enough matches under their belt and need to start winning matches for Pakistan,” said Sarfraz. “And I’m sure they will do just that.”
The Karachi-born also commented on his own game, saying that he feels his wicketkeeping and batting form are interlinked.
“I feel if my wicketkeeping is up to the mark, my batting will be too; hence, I’ve been working with fielding coach Steve Rixon to identify any weaknesses in my game,” said Sarfraz.