Sarfraz is in the UAE leading the men in green for the upcoming Asia Cup, which also involves India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Hong Kong.
Pakistan are the seen as the favourites to win the tournament as they have been playing in the UAE full-time since 2009 and have a full-strength side for the Asia Cup. India are without talismanic captain Virat Kohli.
The experience of local conditions gives Sarfraz’s team and edge and the captain also believes it’s a matter of pride for him that his country has helped raise the profile of UAE as a cricketing hub.
“There is no doubt Pakistan cricket board has played a major role in promoting UAE cricket. Credit goes to PCB as there was no cricket in Sharjah since 2002-03,” Sarfraz told ARY news channel.
“But ever since Pakistan has come here to play, we now see they are having the Emirates league, Afghanistan T20 league, T10, IPL matches have been held here, PSL is here. It’s because of Pakistan cricket team and board that cricket has been revived in UAE.”
Knowledge of local conditions is what gives Pakistan the edge in the tournament and Sarfraz said his team has prepared for conditions and weather.
“We have trained very well. We had good preparation in Lahore, played a practice match as well. Batsmen look in good nick, bowlers did well. The morale is very high.
“UAE conditions keep changing. At this time, weather is hot and humid. We have prepared for that. Training is very important for this weather.”
Pakistan star all-rounder Shahid Afridi has signed up as one of the Icon players for the inaugural edition of the Afghanistan Premier League.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board and Snixer Sports held the APL T20 player draft in Dubai on Monday. A total of five teams representing as many regions of Afghanistan – Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Paktia and Balkh – will take part in the tournament.
The tournament, consisting of 23 matches, will take place from October 5-23 in Sharjah.
The player draft saw Afridi picked up as an Icon player for Team Paktia. Team Kabul picked star leg-spinner Rashid Khan as their top player, while Team Balkh went for West Indies icon Chris Gayle.
Team Nangarhar zeroed in on Caribbean all-rounder Andre Russell and Team Kandahar went for Kiwi ace Brendon McCullum. Each team will comprise of a minimum of 17 and a maximum of 20 players.
Speaking at the occasion, Ashish Sethi, CEO Snixer Sports, investment partner for APL, said: “We have seen phenomenal interest from players from around the world.”
“Afghanistan has been growing in stature not just as a cricket loving country but also in serious talent. This league will not just provide long-term exposure to the players but will also be a good source of entertainment for the international audiences.”
Pakistan‘s veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik said he hopes to play two more World Cups before calling time on his career, depending on his fitness and the requirements of the team.
The Pakistan team will be in the UAE this month for the Asia Cup and while the focus of the team is on winning against Asia’s best, the 36-year-old talked about the road ahead for him.
“I have said this before on many occasions that the 2019 50 Over World Cup will be my last World Cup,” said Malik.
Shoaib Malik on the topic of respect for senior players "To be given respect or not by others is not in your own hands & I don't accept the senior/junior thing. You need to have inner satisfaction with yourself and no one can hand you respect, it comes from the Almighty" #Cricket— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) September 7, 2018
“My goal is also to play the 2020 World T20 and end my T20 career after that but that depends on my fitness and will be based on discussions with the PCB as I believe honesty is important as a cricketer. If you feel that another player can come in place of you and play better than he should be given a chance.”
However, the veteran with more than 400 international matches under his belt said he would like to play two more World Cups.
“My goal is to play these two World Cups but it will depend on my fitness and if I feel that the time has come to take retirement, I will definitely take that option,” he added.