LAHORE: Lauding the national team’s fine turnaround in the ICC Champions Trophy, former Pakistan cricketers have attributed Sarfraz Ahmed and company reaching the final to sheer hard work, particularly of youngsters, and impressive captaincy.
Aamir Sohail, the former Test opener, said the players fought with determination in the crunch semi-final against England, adding the young players fared magnificently to justify their inclusion in the team.
“The openers [Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman] played entertaining knocks giving the team much needed start to lay the foundation for the victory,” Aamir said while talking to APP.
“And the bowlers, specially young ones, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Rumman Raees and Shadab Khan, bowled brilliantly to shatter the English batting line.”
However, he regretted that the selectors took too long to include highly-talented opener Fakhar Zaman, who has earned loads of applause for his fearless batting in the event so far, in the national team.
Ex-Test opener Ramiz Raja said, “The consistency shown by the team was made possible mainly due to collective efforts and good captaincy by Sarfraz Ahmed. After losing the opening game [against India] and then fashioning out three consecutive victories is a remarkable comeback. Well done team Pakistan, keep the good work up. This tournament is no more about the rankings, because already No. 8 team is in the final.”
Record-setting Test batsman and ex-skipper Younis Khan said reaching the Champions Trophy decider was a big honour for Pakistan and those players who were being considered “not of much potential” performed well to prove all predictions wrong.
“Take the example of Rumman who bowled too good in his debut match [against England] without taking any pressure,” Younis underscored.
Misbah-ul-Haq gave full credit of the success against England to the undying spirit of the team, their hard work and wise captaincy.
“The team played skillful cricket and all the players exhibited responsibility and our bowling attack, aided by young talent, restricted England to a chaseable total. And then our batting helped by a young batsman [Fakhar] led the team to success,” Misbah added.
Praising Sarfraz for his fine leadership in the semi-final, Misbah noted that the Pakistan captain was ahead of the game.
“Sarfraz was clear in his mind. He just won the toss and decided to bowl first. Afterwards they [Pakistan team] executed their plans very well. They were relaxed and played a perfect game. That is just what we were looking for,” he added.
Legendary all-rounder and 1992 World Cup winning captain Imran Khan forecast an Indo-Pak final even before the result of India’s semi-final against Bangladesh.
“Now the whole nation awaits our team making amends in the final against India if they defeat Bangladesh,” Imran posted on Twitter as he congratulated Pakistan on their semi-final victory.
Former Test off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq said the win against England in the semi-final was a result of the prayers of the whole Pakistani nation. He said Sarfraz very aptly utilised his bowlers in the semifinal.
“This is the time to encourage our youngsters who have showed tremendous performance,” he emphasised.