'Days following defeat to India were very tough for team': Sarfaraz speaks after return from World Cup
Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed, who returned early morning on Sunday from the United Kingdom after participating in the 2019 ICC World Cup, held a press conference in Karachi.
Pakistan failed to qualify for the semifinals on net run-rate difference with New Zealand after both the teams earned 11 points each from nine league matches.
The skipper said that the team had realised the issue of run rate after its first match of the World Cup tournament — in which West Indies dismissed Pakistan for a disappointing 105 — and later tried to win matches with good margins but the pitches were not favourable.
"We are feeling as sorry as the nation [after exit from World Cup]. No one goes there to lose," he said, acknowledging that the performance of the national team was not exemplary in the first five matches of the World Cup.
"After the first match, we gained momentum but unfortunately we could not play against Sri Lanka because of rain and in the two next matches — against Australia and India — our performance was not good."
"The next seven days after the defeat to India were very tough for the team. After the match, we took a two-day break and then I called a meeting with all 15 players, without the management. I discussed everything I had observed during the first five matches, all that we were doing wrong, and all the players responded well and gave their feedback.
"The team then performed very well in the remaining four matches. All players, juniors as well as seniors, played their part and I am happy with them as a captain," said Safaraz, also praising the coach and the management for tackling the players after the defeat to India.
"As far as Shoaib [Malik] is concerned, unfortunately, he was not a part of the final match because we tried to go with a winning combination. He was given a farewell by the team and our best wishes are with him.
"Now, we will take a break for the next 20 days and then make a new return."
When asked about his demeanour during the first five matches and whether he was under pressure from anyone, Sarfaraz said there was no such pressure from either Coach Mickey Arthur or chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq.
He added that he was not giving up his captaincy but clarified that the final decision would be taken by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
When asked if he had a say in the team selection, he said: "The team was constituted by consensus."
Sarfaraz, who led the team to victory against India and won the Champions Trophy in 2017, has faced harsh criticism for Pakistan’s miserable run at the start of the World Cup and particularly the match against India. He, however, recieved a warm welcome at the Karachi airport upon return.
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur, following the team's exit, had praised Sarfaraz for helping the resurgence after being severely criticised for the India defeat.
"I must say that I'd just like to credit the captain, Sarfaraz. What he was exposed to after the Indian game was atrocious as a Pakistan cricket captain, as any captain of any cricket team," he said.
"The way he held his composure, the way he led from the front, the way his work ethic never, ever changed. I think he's been an inspiration to that dressing room, and I think Sarfaraz deserves a lot of credit for this."
On Monday, all-rounder Imad Wasim and leg-spinner Shadab Khan will hold press conferences in Rawalpindi while on Tuesday, batsmen Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq will speak to the press in Lahore.