KARACHI: Former chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu on Sunday showered praise on the Pakistan team for winning the ICC Champions Trophy by pulling off a most fabulous turnaround seen in international cricket, and added that skipper Sarfraz Ahmed has infused a renewed fighting spirit in the side which augurs well for the future off Pakistan cricket.

“Sarfraz and his men achieved the unthinkable at the mega event in England after experiencing a heavy defeat against India in the opening game,” said Sallu while talking to media here.

“The very fact that Pakistan regrouped handsomely after the India defeat to win four games on the trot against top sides like South Africa, England and in the mother of all battles against India in the final speaks volumes of this team’s resilience and talent,” he said.

Eulogising the qualities in Sarfraz’s leadership, Sallu said: “A good captain must have three qualities in him to excel, the first is that he should have a permanent place in the team, should be leading from the front and must have sound understanding of the game and Sarfraz has all these in abundance.”

“Also, all of us must appreciate the fact that he did not have any superstars or big names in his team and yet he led them superbly to the title win,” he observed.”The brilliant Fakhar century in the final and Mohammad Amir’s breathtaking spell completely baffled India into submission.”

The former Test cricketer also emphasised the fact that it was some great faith shown in Sarfraz’s abilities by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar M Khan despite the heavy criticism after the India defeat in the opening game which propelled the team to glory.

“It was unstinted support and backing from Shaharyar Sahab at that juncture which boosted Sarfraz and his men to bounce back heroically in the event,” said Sallu.

He further said that the emergence of brilliant young players Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan, Ruman Raees, Hassan Ali and others was mainly owing to the advent of the Pakistan Super League and the credit for it must go to PSL chief Najam Sethi. “Yes, the PSL impact is for everyone to see. These youngsters were the real stars of Champions Trophy after they found their feet in the PSL and were groomed for international competition there.

“The credit for this must go to Sethi Sahab who stuck to his plans despite heavy odds and criticism from so many quarters. And today, Pakistan cricket is reaping the fruits of PSL.”

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2017

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