Pakistan nominated Sarfraz Ahmed to lead their One-Day International (ODI) side at arguably the most crucial stage. The side that once dominated the white ball cricket, languish at number eight in the ICC ODI rankings with 89 rating points.
In an unprecedented model, only 10 nations are scheduled to play in the 2019 World Cup to be held on the British Isles. The top seven ranked sides, along with England, will secure automatic qualification for 2019 World Cup, with the last two being decided after by a qualification tournament.
For a nation enjoying rich cricketing history like Pakistan it would be considered disgraceful to contest with the Associate Members to seek a berth in the prestigious tournament.
“We are wary about how important is our world cup qualification so our focus is to win the series and strengthen our position,” Sarfraz told reporters Friday at Qaddafi Stadium, Lahore after a week-long training camp for the upcoming tour of the West Indies.
Kamran Akmal practices during the training session - PCB
“I feel the role of our senior players especially like [Mohammad] Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, [Mohammad] Amir, and Wahab [Riaz] is very important,” Sarfraz said, adding that the seniors need to contribute and lead the team.
Pakistan brought back Kamran Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad in the Twenty20 International and ODI squads on the basis of their prolific run in the recently concluded Pakistan Super League (PSL). The duo is expected to open for Pakistan. When asked whether the presence of another wicketkeeper-batsman in the side will put him under pressure, Sarfraz said: “I am not taking any pressure … the good thing is that Kami bhai [Kamran Akmal] came after performing well. Before, Rizwan used to be with me in the side. So there is no pressure at all. Kami bhai is in good form and we all have agreed to utilise it.”
Pakistan players train on the last day of the training camp - PCB
Sarfraz succeeded Shahid Afridi as Pakistan’s T20I captain after the ICC World T20 in India last year. Since, he has enjoyed a phenomenal record as a captain with four wins in four T20Is. Last month, the PCB replaced Sarfraz with Azhar Ali as the ODI captain after he failed to deliver the desired results.
Cricingif understands that the PCB wishes to have a single captain for all three formats after Misbah-ul-Haq retires from the Test cricket. The 42-year-old is expected to hang boots after the three Test matches in the Caribbean. “Playing for Pakistan is like a dream and I’m honoured that I’m playing and leading my country,” Sarfraz said when asked whether he was up to lead Pakistan in all three formats.
“My interaction with all players is very good and captaining in two formats is obviously a big responsibility and I am privileged. So I don’t think there should be any worry,” he added.