Sarfraz ‘proud’ of Pakistan after creating history

Published: June 15, 2017
Pakistan's Sarfraz Ahmed celebrates the wicket of England's Moeen Ali during the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final cricket match between England and Pakistan in Cardiff on June 14, 2017.  Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed celebrates after England batsman Moeen Ali.

Pakistan's Sarfraz Ahmed celebrates the wicket of England's Moeen Ali during the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final cricket match between England and Pakistan in Cardiff on June 14, 2017. Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed celebrates after England batsman Moeen Ali. PHOTO: AFP

CARDIFF: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed insisted he always believed his side could turn their fortunes around after they reached the ICC Champions Trophy final with a dominant eight-wicket win over England in Cardiff.

Pace bowler Hasan Ali took three wickets as Pakistan dismissed England, the only unbeaten team left in the tournament, for a mere 211.

In marked contrast to their nail-biting chase in a three-wicket, virtual quarter-final, win over Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Monday, Pakistan then cruised to a total of 215 for two with a mammoth 77 balls to spare.

Pakistan vanquish mighty England to reach Champions Trophy final

Azhar Ali (76) and Fakhar Zaman (57) dismissed England’s attack to all parts of Sophia Gardens in an opening stand of 118.

What made Wednesday’s win all the more impressive was that it came just 10 days after Pakistan launched their Champions Trophy campaign with a woeful 124-run hammering by arch-rivals India.

But just three days later Pakistan, the lowest-ranked side in a tournament featuring the world’s top eight one-day international teams bounced back to defeat number one South Africa.

Mohammad Amir to miss England match: sources

Now Pakistan could have a chance for revenge against India in Sunday’s final at the Oval if the title-holders beat Bangladesh in Thursday’s second semi-final at Edgbaston.

“It is a cause of great pride and happiness for me and for the entire Pakistan nation,” said Sarfraz after the semi-final triumph. “It was a team no one gave a chance, neither here nor back home,” added the 30-year-old wicket-keeper. “No one thought we’d reach the final.”

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said before the semi-final that if his side played their “best game” they could “put pressure” on England.

And they did so in style, despite being without injured left-arm quick Mohammad Amir because of a back spasm.

“Today was a perfect performance from all departments,” said opening batsman Azhar. “The bowlers did extremely well and got us in a very good position. Getting England out for 211 is never easy because they have a wonderful balance to their side and we knew if we didn’t take wickets they would score heavily.

“Credit goes to Sarfraz and the way he led the team, we kept taking wickets and kept the run-rate in check. It was a wonderful performance.”

Meanwhile Sarfraz said the way Arthur and the South African’s backroom staff had boosted morale after the India defeat had been central to their recovery.

“After the first loss, we are very down, but credit goes to the team management,” said Sarfraz. “They motivated us very well.”

Asked how self-belief had been restored following a defeat by India greeted with widespread condemnation back home, Sarfraz explained: “After the India match, we just motivated the guys.

“We said don’t worry about the India match. This is gone. We have two [more group] matches. If we play good cricket, definitely we will win this tournament. Now we are in the final.”

Sarfraz already knows what it’s like to win a trophy at India’s expense, having been the skipper of the Pakistan side that defeated their fellow Asian giants in the 2006 Under-19 World Cup final in Colombo

“Yes, I will have that India Under-19 game in mind,” he said. “It was my first big event as captain. We are hopeful of beating whoever comes through.”

Pakistan, as they had when defeating England in an ODI at Cardiff last year, received plenty of crowd support.

It is something they appreciate more than most after a 2009 terror attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore turned Pakistan into a ‘no-go area’ for the world’s top teams, with the United Arab Emirates now their adopted ‘home’.

“Last time we played here although we were 4-0 down [in a five-match series], still the Pakistani supporters came to support us and it was like we were playing at home,” recalled Azhar.

“It was good to have that feeling, we don’t play at home, so whenever we get a crowd supporting us we love it. Thanks to the crowd for coming and they’ve been brilliant,” he added.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • israr
    Jun 15, 2017 - 3:22PM

    the captaincy was a top class one and that is exactly what made the difference, yes everything fell in its place as it was order by Allah so true that nothing moves unless ordered by Allah :)
    I have to give it to Sarfaraz he managed to get the below power batting to fire again and out of sort bowling to get him wickets, the inclusion of junaid khan was the biggest difference and that changed everything, he leads the pack now, if aamir makes a come back good however ensure that he is well we do not want him to get injured during the game as he did last time against india, it is possible, infact y not rest him and play ruman, Indians have not played him before and I know they struggle against new bowlers if he has something plus fahim should come back in the side either for imad or shadab we have to wait and seeRecommend

  • Yul47
    Jun 15, 2017 - 5:35PM

    A brilliant win,Hassan Ali was exceptional with the ball and Fakhar Zaman made it happen with the bat. India play well the spinners so Pakistan may want to consider inclusion of Faheem Ashraf, a pinch hitter in the middle Order and bowls quickies. Recommend

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