KARACHI: Pakistan’s young team under Sarfraz Ahmed has performed wonderfully well on the England tour so far and have a great chance to sweep the series for the first time in England if they play as well as they did at Lord’s last week.

This was stated by former chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu on Thursday in a chat with the media. Looking elated at Pakistan’s performance, Sallu said: “While everyone was sure of the tremendous potential in the current set of players, the professional manner in which Pakistan crushed England inside three and a half days was absolutely unbelievable.

“England, as we are aware, are a very experienced and strong side , especially on their home turf. But the manner in which Sarfraz and his boys outplayed them in every department has stunned the cricketing world.”

Admiring the brilliant leadership skills of Sarfraz, Sallu said: “I have rarely seen our team gelling like this on the field as they did at Lord’s and credit for this primarily goes to the captain.

“Yes Pakistan have won many times previously at Lord’s under Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and Wasim Akram. But all of them had very seasoned set of players under them. However, Sarfraz is leading a very young and inexperienced side which has not had much exposure of world cricket. So for them to beat England by nine wickets is a stand-out performance indeed,” observed Sallu.

“This is the reason that I feel Pakistan have a golden chance to sweep the series 2-0 this time.”

Commenting on the Headingley pitch, Sallu said it is known to be a seaming wicket and Pakistan players will have to be very watchful there. “Though our team is playing superbly, my advice to them for the Headingley Test is to apply themselves with more concentration and watchfulness because seaming ball can create problems, especially if the conditions are overcast.”

Sallu, who is also advisor to the PCB Chairman for the Southern region, said Pakistan is bound to miss a talented and in-form player like Babar Azam who unfortunately fractured his arm at Lord’s. “Yes Babar will be missed as he was tackling the English attack very confidently at Lord’s. However, we do have good back up players in Fakhar Zaman, Usman Salahuddin and Sami Aslam and that is why the team management has not called for any replacement for Babar,” he said.

Sallu, however, disagreed with former England captain Michael Vaughan’s comment that the hosts should drop either James Anderson or Stuart Broad for the Headingley Test and bring in a young pacer. “Just like the batsmen who experience bad patch in their careers, bowlers too go through it. But you can’t just drop bowlers who have taken nearly a thousand wickets between them on the basis of of just one bad match,” he argued.

In the end Sallu wished good luck to the team and hoped they will repeat the Lord’s performance at Headingley as well to win the series.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2018

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