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

Cricketnext Staff
The ups and downs are not new to Pakistan cricket, but why are they unable to maintain the high standards they set in the Champions Trophy?

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.