KARACHI : Pakistan’s 180-run win over India was not only the biggest in an International Cricket Council world event final but also the biggest for the Men in Green over their arch-rivals. The win, and the triumphant and historic Champions Trophy campaign, has left almost the entire cricketing fraternity singing praises of skipper Sarfraz Ahmed and his men.
Former captain Rashid Latif hailed the way Sarfraz led the side and trusted the young players at his disposal.
“Sarfraz has been a real leader throughout the tournament,” said Latif. “He has taken the youngsters along with him in such a way that they were utilised perfectly. Many captains have been given young players and good players but no one has been able to lead the way Sarfraz did.”
Latif added that his fellow glovesman was positive right from the get-go. “His body language showed that he wanted to win the game,” he said.
Fakhar Zaman starred for Pakistan in all the four games he played and was the man of the match of the final for his attacking century, and Latif feels Sarfraz can get the best out of him.
“They have been playing in the same club for the past seven years and Sarfraz knows exactly what to expect of him,” he said.
Openers earn rave reviews
Pakistan Cricket Board director operations cricket Haroon Rasheed refuted the notion that Zaman is a find of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), stating that he has been a consistent performer for several years now.
“Zaman has been performing in domestic cricket for four years now,” he said. “Yes the PSL helped him get into the team by giving him prominence but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been performing for a while now.”
Meanwhile, former fast-bowler Jalaluddin hailed Zaman as a pure talent who knows what shots to play. “He was looking to strike almost every ball against a top-class Indian bowling attack,” he said. “He played brilliantly.”
Jalaluddin also praised Zaman’s opening partner Azhar Ali. “Azhar took the responsibility early on when Zaman was struggling and scored runs. At that time, Azhar’s strike rate was better than Zaman’s,” he said. “Zaman then utilised the foundation Azhar provided and scored quickly after Azhar’s departure. Mohammad Hafeez also played well lower down the order but the innings was made at the top by the openers.”
Rashid Latif also praised Azhar was his selfless attitude. “Azhar has played in many roles for the team,” he said. “Opener, one-down, captain — he did whatever job was required of him. This is the attitude needed in the team.”
Razzaq in awe of Amir
Former Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq was full of praise for Muhammad Amir, who broke the back of India’s run-chase by dismissing their much-vaunted top three of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli.
“Amir built pressure on the opposition right from the first game,” he said. “Opposition batsmen always looked at him as Pakistan’s main seamer and tried to ensure they don’t give him wickets. India didn’t have that luxury since they had to score quickly.”
Razzaq, a former pacer himself, feels Amir is at his most lethal when the batsmen are willing to take risks against him.
“Amir is an aggressive bowler and he takes wickets whenever batsmen try to score quickly off him,” he said. “Against India, he not only bowled well but he also bowled smartly. He had a plan for every one of their top three and he was the one who did the real damage.”
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