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April 4, 2018

Sarfraz rejects criticism over winning against 'weak' Windies team


Wed, Apr 04, 2018

KARACHI: Critics have argued that there is no point in celebrating a victory against a second grade team but Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed made it clear on Tuesday night that he was pleased at the way his team crushed West Indies 3-0 in a three-match Twenty20 International series.

Speaking to reporters after his team’s eight-wicket win the last game of the series here at the National Stadium, Sarfraz hailed his players’ performance in the contest.

"I have been hearing people say that a weak side has arrived for the series," he said.

"The PCB did not ask anyone to send a weak team. We had asked West Indies to tour Pakistan. We played better cricket and credit must be given to our side. Our players deserve to be appreciated for their performances because they played exceptionally well. It would be wrong to say that a 'B side' had come. Eight players from this touring squad were part of the last West Indies tour. Four of them were part of the PSL. I don't think this was a weak side. We played better."

Sarfraz hailed the successful staging of the series and hoped that more teams will come and play in Pakistan.

"I don't think teams have any excuses left for not coming to Pakistan anymore," he said.

"Even today, the crowd turnout was massive, despite this match being the third game of the series. People of Karachi have proved to the world that cricket can be played in Pakistan, so the teams should not be looking for any excuses to not tour Pakistan. An ICC World XI side has come to Pakistan, we have had the PSL final [in Karachi], and before that Sri Lanka came to Pakistan. So I expect no team will be using security concerns as an excuse in the future. This year or the next year, [international] cricket will come back to Pakistan."

Sarfraz was all praise for a disciplined Karachi crowd that turned up for all three games despite all odds.

"No praises can do the justice to the discipline the Karachiites have shown. They have braved all the hurdles to come to the stadium. My family had also come to watch matches in the stadium and they told me about the problems that the people had to face on their way here. We should praise the efforts they made. The crowd was to its full capacity today. Likewise, we should also thank the security forces and intelligence agencies for their services. The PCB also deserves credit for all of their efforts," he said.

The 3-0 victory was the seventh consecutive series win for Pakistan under Sarfraz’s leadership.

"It is very satisfying that you are able to execute the plans you have come up with," he said.

"We had come on this tour with some new plans. We changed the opening combination and gave opportunities to two new cricketers right from the start of the series. All the players who were given opportunities, made the most of them. Shaheen Afridi was also provided a chance today. This is a good sign that youngsters are being given a run in the national side and they are proving themselves by performing at the international level.

"It is very positive that new talent is coming in since the last couple of years. The selection committee and the team management deserve credit for this that they support everyone, which translates into good performances. We are trying to give everyone a chance. We knew we had to win today's game to consolidate ourselves at the top of the T20I rankings but still we went in with a new pace attack."

Sarfraz hoped that his team will continue to give its best in the future.

"Shaheen Afridi made his debut and bowlers like Hasan Ali and Mohammad Amir sat on the bench today. It is not like that it is becoming difficult for those who have been dropped to make a comeback in the national side. We try to give whoever is with the team a chance. Of course, the expectations increase with every win. And, you know being a captain of Pakistan is not an easy task. When you lose everyone starts to blame the captain. But, I am hopeful that things will remain better as they have in the past," he said.