CARDIFF: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed insisted he always believed his side could turn their fortunes around after they reached the Champions Trophy final with a dominant eight-wicket win over England in Cardiff.
Now Pakistan could have a chance for revenge against title-holders India in Sunday’s final.
“It is a cause of great pride and happiness for myself and for the entire Pakistan nation,” said Sarfraz after the semi-final triumph. “It was a team no one gave a chance, neither here nor back home. No one thought we’d reach the final.”
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said before the semi-final that if his side played their ‘best game’ they could ‘put pressure’ on England.
And they did so in style, despite being without injured left-arm quick Mohammad Amir because of a back spasm.
“It was a perfect performance from all departments,” said Arthur. “The bowlers did extremely well and got us in a very good position. Getting England out for 211 is never easy because they have a wonderful balance to their side and we knew if we didn’t take wickets they would score heavily.
“Credit goes to Sarfraz and the way he led the team, we kept taking wickets and kept the run-rate in check. It was a wonderful performance.”
Meanwhile, Sarfraz said the way Arthur and the South African’s backroom staff had boosted morale after the India defeat had been central to their recovery.
“After the first loss, we are very down, but credit goes to the team management,” said Sarfraz. “They motivated us very well.”
Asked how self-belief had been restored following a defeat by India greeted with widespread condemnation back home, Sarfraz explained: “After the India match, we just motivated the guys. We said don’t worry about the India match. This is gone.
“We have two [more group] matches. If we play good cricket, definitely we will win this tournament. Now we are in the final.”
Sarfraz already knows what it’s like to win a trophy at India’s expense, having been the skipper of the Pakistan side that defeated their fellow Asian giants in the 2006 Under-19 World Cup final in Colombo.
“Yes, I will have that India Under-19 game in mind,” he said. “It was my first big event as captain. We hope whoever comes through we manage to beat.”
Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2017