Sarfraz eyes successful Zimbabwe tour

Pakistan captain believes team is in good shape for T20I tri-nation tournament and five-match ODI series

Sarfraz eyes successful Zimbabwe tour PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has showed signs of optimism for the upcoming tour of Zimbabwe, which will start from July 1. The Men in Green are due to take part in a T20I tri-nation tournament which will consist of hosts and Australia, which will be followed by five-match ODI series.

While talking to the media in Lahore, Sarfraz highlighted the team’s preparation for the upcoming tour, and also revealed that he expects a tough competition from new-look Australian side.

“We are fully prepared as we had good two-day training camp here and will have three days in Zimbabwe to practice,” said Sarfraz. “T20I format is such where there is no team is easy, but we will try to play best cricket and win the trophy. Australia will be a tough opposition regardless of the fact that they will be playing without some of the senior players.”

Talking about the condition in Zimbabwe, the 31-year-old showed confidence in the available resources and believes the team will be up for any challenge.  

“I’ve had two tours of Zimbabwe and on each occasion, the conditions were completely opposite,” he said. “In 2013, there was so much grass on the pitch and in 2015, the pitches were slow. So we don’t know what kind of pitches we can have there and therefore, we are fully prepared and have our all areas covered. We will try to play best according to the situation. We are going into the series as the number one team in the format. The pressure will be there but we are confident we can achieve good results.”

Veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik in an interview recently claimed that the reason behind Pakistan’s recent success is the team’s unity, something he claimed has never witnessed before in any other team during his nearly two-decade long career, and Sarfraz agreed with his opinion.

“I agree [with Malik’s statement] because as a captain, it is pleasing to see the kind of team chemistry we have now,” said Sarfraz. “Every player, no matter what they are doing, is fighting for the team and for each other, which is why the results are there for everyone to see.”

Talking about his own batting performance, the Karachi-born wicketkeeper-batsman explained that he is hopeful of producing the goods when the team will be in need.

“When you become captain, obviously there is an added pressure,” he said. “I know that in the recent past, I couldn’t deliver the way I wanted but I am working extremely hard on my keeping and batting and whenever I will get the chance, I want to help the team in achieving their goal. I’ve decided to bat at number four in T20Is as that is where I am performing really well.”

Talking about the selection of veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez over inform Kamran Akmal for the upcoming tour, Sarfraz unveils interesting reason.

“No one’s career is over in Pakistan cricket and it’s not going to be over just like that,” he said. “We know that Kamran [Akmal] Bhai is playing really well, but the reason we opted for Hafeez Bhai instead is because he can open instead of Ahmed Shehzad and can also bowl his off-spin which can be really handy as Australia has four left-handers out of the top-five batsman.”

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah was included in the limited overs side after a long time, and Sarfraz explained that the decision was taken with future home series’ in mind. “Yasir Shah’s comeback is a good sign for the team. The thought process behind his inclusion is because there are a lot of series coming up in the future where we will need spinners.”