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Sarfaraz sets focus on PSL, 2019 World Cup

Pakistan skipper is keen on performing well in both events

PHOTO: Reuters

Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has said that he is currently focusing on the upcoming edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup in England and Wales, which are both scheduled to take place in the next five months.

While talking exclusively to Cricket Pakistan, Sarfaraz said that he has shifted his focus away from Test cricket, at the moment, in order to adequately prepare for the PSL and the World Cup.

“We are not thinking too much about Test cricket because our next assignment in the longest format of the game is nearly eight months away,” said Sarfaraz. “Right now I’m focusing on staying fit and performing well in the PSL and the World Cup.”

The wicketkeeper-batsman, who was officially appointed as Pakistan captain on February 5 for the World Cup, also said that it is an honour for him to lead Pakistan at the mega event.

“It is an honour for me to captain Pakistan,” he said. “Chairman Ehsan Mani has always backed me and this is something he reiterated in yesterday’s press conference as well. I would like to thank the PCB for their support.”

Sarfaraz, who recently served a four-match ban for his racial remarks during the second ODI against South Africa, also confirmed that it was him who recommended veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik’s name for Pakistan captaincy in his absence.

“It is me who recommended Malik to captain Pakistan in my absence,” he said. “I have never been worried about him permanently leading Pakistan because Malik has never showed such a desire since I took over Pakistan’s captaincy duties.”

He added: “Malik and also Mohammad Hafeez have been of great help and supported me during my captaincy and whenever I need advice, both on and off the field, they are the ones who I ask first.”

While speaking about the reaction from former Pakistan fast-bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Wasim Akram on the racism incident, he said: “We always listen to advice from former cricketers because they are also concerned about the betterment of Pakistan cricket. I would like to thank Wasim Akram for his support, but I have not talked with Shoaib Akhtar [who lashed out at Sarfaraz] since that incident.”

The 31-year-old also said that he will be more cautious behind the stumps from now on.

“I will try to be more careful behind the stumps in the future,” he said. “I’m not hyper. This is just my way of motivating everyone.”

While talking about Pakistan’s recent T20I series loss against South Africa, he said: “We played well as a team but we did not do well in finishing the game. Chasing at 10-runs-an-over is difficult but we stayed in the game till the 15th over in both matches.”

He also responded to a question regarding power-hitters in the side by saying: “Imad Wasim and Shoaib Malik are good power hitters, while Hasan Ali is also developing into a good finisher.”

The absence of left-handed batsman Fawad Alam from the Pakistan squad, who has been a prolific run-scorer in domestic circuit, has been the talk of the town. Speaking on the issue, Sarfaraz cited presence of quality middle-order batsmen as reason behind Alam’s exclusion.

“There are already a good bunch of players who are currently playing for Pakistan and it is difficult to incorporate someone like Fawad Alam in the side, at a time when Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali and Haris Sohail are already performing well,” he said. “But I’m hopeful that in the future Alam will get his chance in the side.”