We are here to play positive cricket and free cricket – Pakistan captain
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has said his side will enter the ICC Champions Trophy with a daring approach as they don’t have much at stake.
Pakistan are number eight in the ICC ODI Rankings and have never featured in any final of the prestigious eight-team tournament despite playing three semi-finals.
“We are at number eight and have nothing to lose,” Sarfraz said in his pre-tournament media talk on Friday. “I have told my players to play their natural game.”
Pakistan have put up meagre performances in the ODI format this year. They managed only three wins in eight competitions. They were 1-0 down in their last ODI series against the West Indies, but made a strong comeback to win the three-match series 1-2. Sarfraz is hopeful that his side will take the winning momentum in the champions trophy.
“We have had a good series against the West Indies recently,” Sarfraz, who succeeded Azhar Ali as Pakistan’s ODI captain in February, said. “It was a tough series, but our players performed in all departments. We will try to win this trophy as well.
Sarfraz’s captaincy will come under scrutiny when Pakistan begins their champions trophy campaign on June 4. It will be the first instance he will lead his national side in a global tournament. When asked how he will approach the task at hand, the wicketkeeper-batsman said: “My aim is to play with a free mind and just take these matches as I take the domestic competitions.”
Pakistan had a six-day training camp ahead of the two warm-ups, beginning Saturday, to prepare for the tournament. The Pakistan captain is putting a great emphasis on winning the warm-ups to ensure his team enters the champions trophy on a high.
“Our aim is to perform well in the warm-up matches. They will give us an idea of the conditions in Birmingham as our two group matches are at the same venue.”
Pakistan are pitted against India, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. They play India in their first group contest. The two subcontinent rivals have not played each other in the ODI format since the world cup in 2015.
The political tensions between the two countries have deprived the two teams of the bi-lateral series since 2012. Since Pakistan and Inda have been facing off during the global events and the last time they competed was in the 2016 ICC World T20.
“We will try to play well against India. We will give our 100 per cent against them as the whole nation wants us to beat India.”