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KARACHI: Former chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu on Tuesday lauded Pakistan’s brilliant victory in the tri-series final against Australia at Harare on Sunday and expressed hope that Sarfraz Ahmed and his army will continue to fetch more laurels for the country in the years to come.

“What an absolute cracker of a game the tri-series final was and it was great to see Pakistan holding their nerve to romp home despite losing two early wickets in the run chase,” said Sallu while talking to the media here.

“As I see it, this Pakistan team under Sarfraz has gelled in superbly, mainly because of his bold leadership and also because most of these boys are very talented and have been playing together for a longer period now and share a fine camaraderie,” observed the former Test player.

“I must hand it to Safraz here for doing a remarkable job because there are no superstars or experienced players in his team like his predecessors Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq or Wasim Akram used to have,” noted Sallu. “Sarfraz is also making a genuine effort to learn the ropes of captaincy and is improving with every series which is good to see.”

Sallu had special praise for dashing opener Fakhar Zaman who scored over 270 runs in the series at a breathtaking pace. “In Fakhar, Pakistan has found a fantastic opener who is not afraid to play his shots and is strong-willed too,” he said. “Previously, most of the critics bracketed him as a limited overs player only, but I feel he will be a great success in Tests too because he plays proper cricketing shots and is no slogger.”

Sallu, however, rued the fact that Pakistan have not been able to finds a suitable partner with Fakhar. “We have tried so many players including Ahmed Shehzad, Sami Aslam, Shan Masud, Khurram Manzoor, Azhar Ali and others but no opener has settled down to pair successfully with Fakhar. Let’s hope for the best in the future.”

He had special praise for veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik who, he said, was holding the team together on most occasions with his resolute batting and sensible approach.

“Malik, besides his fine form with the bat, has been mentoring the young cricketers and endeavours to finish the mach and stay at the crease till the end which is something the young guns will really benefit from,” he added.

In the end Sallu wished the team luck in the Zimbabwe ODI series starting from Friday.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2018