Pakistan captain warns side against complacency as they prepare for two-match T20I series
Ahead of the two-match T20I series against Scotland, Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed has warned his side that they must not make the mistake of underestimating the opposition.
Pakistan — who are the number one ranked T20I side in the world — are looking forward to the Scotland matches, whom they face for the first time in 11 years.
"We need to perform to the best of our ability because no side in T20 cricket can be considered weak," said Sarfraz. “Scotland have some good players in their side and we are expecting a tough encounter.”
Speaking about the team’s performance in Tests, Sarfraz believes that the players should concentrate on playing the longer version of the sport regularly in domestic cricket, if they are to improve in the Test arena.
“It was a golden opportunity to win a Test series against England which is why I’m disappointed [that we were not able to win]," he said. “Our players need to play more four-day cricket in order to develop the temperament for the game's longest format,"
He added: “Despite the defeat in Leeds, the players have learnt a lot while playing in tough English conditions.”
Sarfraz had come under scrutiny for batting first in Leeds but the Pakistan captain defended his decision.
“It was not solely my decision to bat first in the second Test after winning the toss as the entire team management wanted to adopt that approach,” he said. “Conditions were good for batting but our batsmen were not able to capitalise; even England captain [Joe Root] said that he would have batted first. Credit must also be given to the English bowlers who bowled superbly.”
Sarfraz has been going through a lean patch with the bat but he was keen on getting back amongst the runs soon. He added that the he was proud of the way team performed so far on the tour.
"I will try to learn from my mistakes and improve my performance with the bat," said the Pakistan captain. “Although I was not able to score many runs but I’m proud of the way the team performed during the Tests especially because some people thought that we won’t be able to win a single match on the tour.”
Pakistan openers were not able score heavily during the series against Ireland and England, but Sarfraz backed Azhar Ali and Imamul Haq to put up a better show in the next series.
“The openers were not able to perform in accordance with the expectations we had from them but I expect them to come good with the bat in the near future,” he said. “Azhar is our best player and he will make a strong comeback in the next series, while Imam is inexperienced and will learn to thrive at this level with time.”
When asked about the low-key performance of middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq, the Pakistan captain was quick to point out that the batsman’s series cannot be termed as a poor one.
“He scored fifties against both Ireland and England especially considering that batting in England is not easy,” he said. “Also one should bear in mind that no player, from each side, could score a century during the entire series.”
Talking about Shadab Khan, Sarfraz said: “Shadab performed really well with the bat despite not picking up many wickets. Test cricket is new for him and it is also difficult for an inexperienced spinner to pick up wickets in England but his progress is on the right track.”
Sarfraz was also pleased with the way Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Abbas bowled, while he wanted to give Hasan Ali more time to settle into Test cricket.
“Like Shadab, Hasan is also a newcomer in Test cricket but he has proven himself in the shorter formats and I’m hopeful that he will do the same in five-day cricket as well,” he said. “I’m satisfied with the way Amir bowled, while Abbas has a bright future ahead of him.”
Pakistan will culminate their tour with two T20I matches against Scotland, which are scheduled to be played on June 12 and 13 respectively at Edinburgh.