While Pakistan fans lick their wounds after a chastening 124-run defeat against India, captain Sarfraz Ahmed says the mood in the camp is good and remains ‘confident’ ahead of their clash with South Africa in Birmingham on Wednesday.
“South Africa is a really good team and we are working out plans for their team combination,” said Sarfraz. “As a captain, I am confident going into the match against them. The players are motivated. We’ve told them to play without feeling any pressure. I am hopeful that we’ll bounce back against South Africa.”
When asked how the team management lifted the confidence of the players after defeat against India, Sarfraz said: “India-Pakistan match was a crucial one. Four to five players who faced India for the first time might have felt some pressure but we tried to pull them out of the gloom.
“The mood in the camp is good. We briefly sat down together so that the players could improve their spirits and because the upcoming matches are important. Hopefully, the team will perform better in the next two matches.”
Sarfraz received some stick in the cricketing circles for making a number of bad decisions against Virat Kohli and his men, one of which was not using right-arm off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez, who is considered highly effective against left-handed batsmen.
“We wanted a wicket and we got it from Shadab. Shoaib Malik had bowled two overs till then. So, when Kohli came in, we didn’t want to bring any spinners on. I didn’t want him to get set because he was struggling at the start. So I brought my main bowler against their main batsman,” Sarfraz answered, trying his best to justify his decision.
Another questionable decision was Sarfraz’s refusal to change the batting order even though the situation desperately warranted some tweaking.
“Everyone has a set position in the team,” he said. “Babar [Azam], Hafeez and Malik are playing in the middle-order at number three, four and five, so we didn’t want to shuffle the order.”
‘Two changes in team’
Pakistan face South Africa in a do-or-die situation on Wednesday at Edgbaston and need nothing less than a win if they are to vie for a place in the semi-finals.
Sarfraz, when asked if there would be any team changes for the match against South Africa, practically confirmed his starting line-up instead of keeping his cards close to his chest.
“We’ve made two changes in the team,” said Sarfraz after taking a long pause, “(Left-handed batsman) Fakhar Zaman will replace opener Ahmed Shehzad, while Junaid Khan will come in for the injured Wahab Riaz.”
Meanwhile, the South African camp will be relishing their chance to qualify for the semi-finals if they beat Pakistan since they already overcame the Sri Lankan hurdle in their first match.