India game on mind as Sarfraz Ahmed’s Pakistan prepares for Asia Cup

Sarfraz Ahmed is quick to point that the team’s victory over arch-rivals India in the final of the Champions Trophy doesn’t hold any standing as that happened back in 2017.

Updated: Sep 11, 2018 19:08:24

By HT Correspondent

India last played Pakistan in the final of the Champions Trophy in 2017. (Getty Images)

India might have rested regular skipper Virat Kohli for the Asia Cup, but Pakistan is using the tournament as preparation ground for the 2019 World Cup. The India-Pakistan clash on September 19 is without doubt the most awaited clash of the tournament and Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed echoes the sentiments and feels that it is an important game for his team.

Sarfraz is quick to point that the team’s victory over arch-rivals India in the final of the Champions Trophy doesn’t hold any standing as that happened back in 2017. “Every match against India is important. This (Asia Cup) is the beginning of our road to the event (World Cup) as we don’t have much time in between,” he told Cricbuzz. “That match (Champions Trophy final) is in the past. It was almost one and a half years ago. So, I don’t think we should consider it that much. If we play India in the final, then we will be playing them thrice. All professional teams put the past behind and look forward. Both teams will do the same.”

Sarfraz feels that momentum will play an important role as was experienced by the team during the Champions Trophy as well. “Momentum is very important. During the Champions Trophy, we carried forward the momentum which we had gotten against South Africa and Sri Lanka. We will try to do the same here... We will try to gain momentum in our first match [against Hong Kong] and go into the contest against India with full preparation,” he said.

Having hosted home games in the UAE, Pakistan are pretty aware of the conditions and the skipper feels that the fast bowlers will get help under lights due to the humid conditions on offer.

“The weather is hot, so it becomes difficult to bat in humid conditions under lights as the fast-bowlers get to swing the ball in humidity,” he said. “We will try to access the conditions. We have two-three sessions under lights. Of course, every side will look to bat first and put runs on the board due to the hot weather.

“Pitches are on the slower side in the UAE, so spinners will have a role to play. Our batsmen and bowlers are in top form. We will look to score more than 300 if we bat first because we possess a bowling unit that can defend that total. We are not focusing on one area, we will focus on all three aspects of the game and try to put a good show.”

Sarfraz feels that foreign coaches have helped increase professionalism in the team and he believes that this is one of the fittest Pakistan sides.

“The foreign coaches have instilled professionalism in the side. We have gotten more fit. Previously, our team average [on the yo-yo test] used to be 17. It was 18.7 this time. The five rounds that we did in nine minutes, we are now doing them under eight. A lot of things have improved like the rotation of strike. Our batting [line-up] is chasing 280-290 now. The boys are young like Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, and Babar Azam, and they are still learning. What is good is that the boys are trying to keep up with modern standards like staying at the wicket and keeping the scoring rate at 100 or above,” he signed off.

First Published: Sep 11, 2018 10:52:45


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