Sarfaraz Ahmed confident Pakistan will deliver when it matters
Sarfaraz Ahmed is certain Pakistan are set to peak at just the right time despite losing their first warm-up game ahead of the Cricket World Cup.
ICC Champions Trophy winners in 2017, Sarfaraz and co have spent the last month acclimatising to English conditions.
However, they lost 4-0 to Eoin Morgan’s side before being edged out by neighbours Afghanistan in Bristol in their opening ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup warm-up on Friday.
But skipper Sarfaraz has seen positive sides from his squad - not least in the way they went toe to toe with world No. 1 England.
“We’ve already learned a lot,” he said. “Playing in five different grounds, on different types of pitches, means we know the conditions pretty well now.
“We’ve been here for almost a month and are adapting to the conditions well.
“I’m very confident, it’s good to see my team is fighting.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get the win [against England]. We came close two times and we just didn’t finish well - but the team is in good shape.”
Possessing a high-quality batting line-up featuring the top-ranked T20 batsman in the world in the elegant Babar Azam, Pakistan’s hopes of emulating their success in 2017 have been further boosted by the additions of bowlers Wahab Riaz and Mohammed Amir to their squad.
After taking two wickets in Bristol on Friday, pace bowler Riaz showcased his strong white ball credentials, starring at the death as Pakistan roared back to almost secure an unlikely victory.
“It’s good to have Wahab Riaz back in the squad, hopefully he’ll do very well in the World Cup,” Sarfaraz added.
“I’m very confident with him, Mohammad Amir and Shadab Khan back in the team that we have good strength in the bowling line-up.
“We all know the pitches are good in England, but the practice matches have shown us different types of wickets. Against Afghanistan, it was spinning, and in other games, the ball has been swinging.
“The pitches will be good for bowlers and batters in this World Cup.”
Beginning against a big-hitting West Indies side next Friday, Pakistan will now look to draw on their considerable record in England.
Victorious with Sarfaraz at the helm in the Champions Trophy two years ago, the Falcons also lifted the 2009 T20 World Cup at Lord’s - the venue for this summer’s final.
The experience of playing in conditions they know well, together with the likely backing of a large Pakistani contingent, makes England almost a home from home for Pakistan’s skipper.
“Pakistan’s past record in England is very good,” Sarfaraz concluded. “For me, I love to play here, because the pitches are excellent.
“We’ve got lots of support here too, so that’s why we play well in England.“
©Cricket World 2019