‘Soft dismissals a concern’

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Jun
13

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01:09

Confidence is high going into semis – Sarfraz

Pakistan have little more than 36 hours before taking the field again in Cardiff for their Champions Trophy semi-final against England, but will find time to address concerns about their middle order despite the joy of overcoming Sri Lanka to progress to the knockout stage.

Fakhar Zaman’s explosive entrance to the one-day side, with innings of 31 off 23 balls against South Africa followed by his 35-ball 50 against Sri Lanka, has helped overcome the sluggish starts which have plagued their batting, but there were a series of loose dismissals in the chase which left them needing a rescue mission of dramatic proportions from captain Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Amir in an unbroken stand of 75 in 15 overs.

“If you look at the game we started well but after Fakhar Zaman got out we lost the momentum and then most of our dismissals were soft which definitely is an area of concern for us,” Sarfraz said. “We will sit tomorrow and talk about this and hopefully we will recover from this.

“After the way we started we could have finished this game with six or seven wickets in hand but those dismissals really dented us. We should have won by a good margin but a win is a win. Yes, we need to sit and talk about it and realise that if we a settled that we should take the game to the end rather than leaving it for the upcoming batsmen.”

On his own innings, an unbeaten 61 off 79 balls, he admitted things went his way especially with the first dropped catch by Thisara Perera but was delighted to see the chase through. “I played the shot in the air, I just said, ooh…as a captain, it’s very important innings for me. After this innings, I’m really boosted.”

Before the tournament, Sarfraz spoke about how the team’s No. 8 ODI ranking meant there were no expectations on them – which looked justified after the woeful performance against India, who they have a chance of meeting again in the final – but now they have a semi-final berth he sounded a little more bullish.

“Indeed it was very important for us as a team. Obviously nobody was rating us and they were writing us off, but once again I give all the credit to the team management for boosting us after the India game, especially our bowlers. The way Junaid [Khan] and Amir bowled was a turning point. I hope we can carry the momentum ahead and take a lot of confidence.”

Sarfraz also promised his side would play “positive” cricket against England, the side they conceded the world record ODI total of 444 for 3 against at Trent Bridge last year. That one-day series ended in a 4-1 drubbing but the lone Pakistan victory did come in Cardiff as they chased down 303 in which Sarfraz made 90.

“We chased down 300-plus runs and that is a good memory,” he said. “We have to play positive cricket as England have been playing positive cricket in the last two years. Obviously we have to play hard and we will try to replicate our last year performance to win them again in Cardiff. If you’re playing a world class team you play more positive cricket. So will definitely do that against England.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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