Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed is confident of a good show in the upcoming Asia Cup in familiar conditions. Pakistan squad for the Asia Cup will leave for the United Arab Emirates on Monday to participate in the tournament starting September 15. Pakistan will play their first game on September 16 against Hong Kong, who won the tournament qualifier against hosts UAE to reach the main round.
“I think our preparation is good. We have practiced for 4-5 days in hot conditions and played a practise game,” Sarfraz told in a media interaction at National Cricket Academy in Lahore.
“We will have 4 days in the UAE as well and will try work more.”
Sarfraz, who captained Pakistan to their first-ever Champions Trophy win last year, underscored the importance of momentum in such tournaments.
“Momentum is the key. Like we had it against South Africa and Sri Lanka and took it all the way to the finals in the Champions Trophy last year, we’ll try to do the same in Asia Cup as well.”
The UAE has been home to Pakistan for the past decade and Sarfraz Ahmed was adamant on exploiting the familiar conditions.
“The conditions in the UAE are slow and spin friendly. Our strategy will be to bat first, our batting has been performing really well in the recent past.
“If we post a 300-plus total, we have the bowling power to defend such scores in those conditions.”
While Pakistan ODI and T20I sides have especially improved under his captaincy, Sarfraz’ personal performances with the bat have come under scrutiny in recent times. Since becoming the captain on Pakistan tour of West Indies in early 2017, Sarfraz has crossed fifty-run mark only twice – with one being the match-winning performance against Sri Lanka in Champions Trophy – in 14 innnings.
On not having a backup wicket-keeping option with the side, Sarfraz brushed aside any negative perceptions by highlighting his personal fitness levels and available pool.
“We do have backup keeping option whenever we go on a long tour. But since I have become the captain, we have only played two-match Test series.
“If you see, Mohammad Rizwan is with the team for the past few years. Even in A team tours, Rizwan has been with them. So instead of just sitting on the bench, it’s better that the backup options keep playing.
“Both England Lions and New Zealand A teams will be visiting the UAE to play Pakistan A. So, we will have a backup option throughout our tour in case there is a need.”
The news of Mohammad Hafeez’ exclusion from the Asia Cup came as a surprise to many when Pakistan announced their final squad last week. In protest, Hafeez had called a press conference in Lahore, only to postpone it after assurances from senior players and board officials.
“Hafeez is still a part of the plans for the World Cup. He is the part of the pool of players chief selector [Inzamam] has outlined. Whenever there is space for Hafeez, he will get a chance and make a comeback.”