In an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan, Sarfaraz Ahmed opens up about crucial matters ahead of the HBL PSL 7
Quetta Gladiators, under the leadership of former Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, reached three finals in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). The Quetta side faced Islamabad United in the inaugural season of the tournament and met Peshawar Zalmi in the following season. However, both times, Quetta fell short and suffered defeat in the finals.
The 2019 campaign was perhaps the most successful one for Sarfaraz Ahmed and his team as they finally broke the jinx on the third attempt and took revenge on Zalmi to be crowned champions. Since then, Quetta has failed to replicate its dominating form of 2019 and failed to qualify for the finals in 2020 and 2021.
In an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan, Sarfaraz Ahmed opened up about the preparations, squad balance, and his personal development as a cricketer after being replaced in the national team.
“The preparations [for PSL 7] have begun. I am completely satisfied with the squad that we have drafted,” Sarfaraz Ahmed said.
Responding to relatively poor past two editions, Sarfaraz said that they faced several problems with team combination and Covid-19 also played a huge role.
“Our top-three players joined the team late and if you are out of practice, it becomes extremely difficult to win a tournament like PSL. Similarly, the players who were present with us could not join us in the next round of the tournament; Faf du Plessis came, he got injured. Andre Russel came, he also got injured. It was a cumulative effect,” Sarfaraz explained.
"Foreign Players Will be Key"
While talking about the importance of foreign players for Quetta, Sarfaraz said that they will prove to be match-winners for the franchise.
“The foreign players we have are match-winners and they can singlehandedly turn around any match. Jason Roy and James Vince are both performing well, Ben Duckett has shown great form in the BBL and James Faulkner proved his mettle in the previous edition of the PSL as well,” Sarfaraz added.
The wicketkeeper-batsman further stated that he requested the franchise to fly out the foreign players earlier so that the team management can sit with them and talk about strategy for the upcoming edition of the PSL, which starts on January 27.
"Hasnain will emerge as main bowler"
Mohammad Hasnain will come in HBL PSL 7 on the back of brilliant performances in Australia's Big Bash League. The 21-year-old bagged seven wickets in five matches at a strike rate of 15.7 with an economy rate of only six. He also became the first bowler in BBL history to take three wickets in the first over of his debut.
Sarfaraz has high hopes from the youngster."I have plenty of expectations from Hasnain this year as he would be playing his fourth season with Gladiators. He will emerge as the main bowler for us, he is improving day by day. He is in rhythm which is great for us and Hasnain too"
"Shahid Afridi is a Match Winner"
Quetta Gladiators recently secured the services of Shahid Afridi, a fan favorite, as he gears up to feature in his last edition of PSL.
Speaking about Afridi’s inclusion in the squad, Sarfaraz said that he is delighted to have a player of his stature alongside him on the field.
“Shahid bhai’s inclusion is a great prospect for Quetta and we will try our best to make the most of his experience as he has played for various PSL franchises and also delivered performances on the international stage in the past,” he said.
In an earlier media interview, Afridi labelled Sarfaraz as one of his favourite captains but added that he needs to contain his anger.
“I have not had a discussion with Afridi bhai on this but I have a certain captaincy style and I will lead the team as I have always done so,” responded Sarfaraz.
He further added that players who have played with him understand his captaincy style and he always try to make the newcomers feel comfortable.
"Umar Akmal Will Perform for Quetta"
After missing out on previous PSL editions, Umar Akmal has made a comeback in PSL 7 after he was selected by Quetta.
Despite contrasting opinions, Sarfaraz believes that Umar still has the potential to improve not only his game but also help Quetta Gladiators along the way.
“He played a season with us and he is a great player. We will try to give him confidence and opportunities so that he thrives. This is an important tournament for him personally as well since PSL is watched around the globe and with good performances here, he can revive his career,” Sarfaraz Ahmed added.