We Were Shaken - Sarfraz Ahmed Praises Afghanistan And Their 'Best in The World' Spinners

Cricketnext Staff
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has said that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is ensuring that players are educated on corrupt activities and anyone involved in it are only hurting themselves. "The PCB plays its part by organizing anti-corruption lectures for us," Ahmed said at a pre-match press conference on Sunday. "I have been in the PCB's auspices since 2006. I have been taking lectures in Under-19, Pakistan A, and since when I joined the Pakistan team. The players have to be responsible. They know what is right and what is wrong. Despite that, if they indulge in such activities, they are shooting themselves in the foot." The line of questioning came in the aftermath of Al Jazeera’s recent release of documentary series. The Pakistan captain was asked to comment on the pictures of top cricketers with an alleged match- and spot-fixing facilitator in the documentary. One of the pictures showed Umar Akmal looking into a bag handed to him by, as per the documentary, an associate of the facilitator. However, the 31-year-old was quick to defend his fellow cricketers. "It is not a fault of a player if a stranger, who later turns out to be a crook, asks for a picture and he poses with him for it. If we don't pose for one, we are labeled to be arrogant," he said. On Monday, the PCB called the allegations made by Al-Jazeera in the documentary ‘unsubstantiated’. The Pakistan skipper had reported an approach to the PCB during Pakistan's series against Sri Lanka in October last year. After beating Australia 1-0 in the two-match Test series, Pakistan will now be eager to reinforce their No.1 position in the T20 rankings in the upcoming three-match series, which starts on Monday. But the series presents an opportunity for Australia to dethrone their opponents, if they can whitewash the hosts in the series.

Reflecting on his side's narrow three-wicket victory against Afghanistan in the first match of the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup in Abu Dhabi, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said that his team was 'shaken' at different stages during the match.

Speaking in the post match ceremony, Sarfraz said, "We were shaken today. I think the way Imam, Babar and Shoaib played towards the end was fantastic, but to chase 250 in these conditions against the Afghanistan spinners who I think are the best in the world, you have to bat really well.

"We still get confidence from the way we won today. As you know, the team has improved a lot on its fielding over the last few years, but today we didn't show that. Regardless, the team has been motivated by this performance."

Pakistan were cruising at one stage while chasing down 258, with Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq putting up a 154-run stand for the second wicket. Things started to go in Afghanistan's favour when Imam was run-out by a superb Najibullah Zadran effort, after which Rashid Khan cranked up the pressure on the Pakistani batsmen.

"I congratulate Pakistan, they played really well. It was a tough game which the whole crowd enjoyed," Afghanistan captain Asghar Afghan said at the post match ceremony. "If you let a senior player like (Shoaib) Malik play his game, it's difficult. Babar and Imam played really well too. But we were poor in the field and our medium pacers let us down."

Shoaib Malik was declared the man-of-the-match for his unbeaten knock of 51 off 43 balls, which helped Pakistan over the line in the end. He said that he simply wanted to bat till the 50th over, and was confident that his team would reach the finish line if he did so.

"Being a senior player, the goal was to bat to the 50th over. That was the only thing. At one stage the required rate was 10, but I kept telling myself to play till the last over," he said.

"Even good bowlers, when they're bowling at the end, the situation is different. As batsmen we can charge them. I would like to congratulate Afghanistan. Every day, they've been improving. I think they're a great side."

Pakistan will take on India next on Sunday in Dubai, while Afghanistan will play Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi on the same day.