Sarfraz Ahmed becomes most successful Pakistan T20I skipper after Scotland clean sweep

Waseem Ahmed 14/06/2018
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The Pakistan side pose with the trophy after their 2-0 series win.

Sarfraz Ahmed’s personal form was the subject of heated debate as Pakistan beat Ireland in a one-off Test before squaring the two-match Test series against England at 1-1.

However, the Pakistan skipper roared back into form with a stupendous innings of 89 not out off just 49 deliveries in the first T20I against Scotland at Edinburgh on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Sarfraz’s men thumped Scotland by 84 runs in the second and final T20I to sweep the series 2-0. With this win, the 31-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman has become the joint-most successful skipper in the T20I format in Pakistan’s history.

This was the 19th win under Sarfraz’s captaincy in just 22 matches since he took charge in September 2016. This puts him level with Shahid Afridi who also led Pakistan to 19 wins as skipper although the former all-rounder’s victories came in 43 matches.

Sarfraz's men proved to be too good for the Scots.

Sarfraz’s men proved to be too good for the Scots.

With a success-rate of over 86 per cent, Sarfraz has made Pakistan into a fearsome T20I outfit, which is reflected in their rise to the top of the ranking chart.

The right-hander has now presided over 11 wins in the last 12 T20I matches. Under his leadership, Pakistan have won all eight T20I series they have played. This run includes wins over England, West Indies, ICC World XI, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and now Scotland.

Pakistan have now not lost any bilateral T20I series since the start of 2016 when they lost 2-1 to the Blackcaps in a three-match series.

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T20 champions West Indies target rare Test series win against Sri Lanka

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West Indies are not considered the strongest teams in Test cricket. Franchises and T20 teams across the world make a beeline for their top cricketers. But when it comes to Test cricket, the focus moves away from West Indies cricket.

Not a competitive Test team you say? Well if you look at their record since 2016, the West Indies have registered some highly impressive wins.

They have defeated Pakistan twice – by five wickets in Sharjah in 2016 and 106 runs in Barbados in 2017. There was a five-wicket win over England in Leeds 2017 as well. And that was a first-choice fully fit England side.

When the Sri Lankans entered the three-Test series against the Windies, they might have hoped for some positive results. After all, they had blanked Pakistan 2-0 in the UAE last year before registering a thumping 215 run win in Bangladesh. They even managed to draw two Tests in India in November and December.

But this Windies team led by Jason Holder was not going to to roll over. The Sri Lankans were delivered a stunning blow in the first Test in Port of Spain as the hosts sailed to a 226-run win.

West Indies’ pace attack of Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Miguel Cummins and Holder did not concede an inch as the Lankans were shot out for 185 and 226.

And as the second Test between the two sides begins in St Lucia on Thursday, the Windies will be even more confident of securing a series win in the three-match series.

Sri Lanka all-rounder Angelo Mathews and fast bowler Lahiru Gamage have returned home, adding to the visitors’ woes. Gamage fractured a finger while batting in the first Test while Mathews withdrew due to a “personal reason”.

With the Lankans already missing opener Dimuth Karunaratne due to a finger injury, the West Indies will be even more aggressive as not only have the visitors lost a premier batsman in Mathews, their bowling have been weakened considerably.

If West Indies do manage to taste success, it will be a moment to cherish in the country that has ‘lost’ more players to T20 franchise cricket than any other country.

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Scotland skipper Kyle Coetzer wants more after England and Pakistan showdowns

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Scotland played against England and Pakistan over the last few days.

Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer admits he is desperate to sample more of the big time after savouring four “special days” against two of cricket’s superpowers.

There was disappointment for the skipper as his side were unable to follow up their historic one-day international victory over England with another win as they took on Pakistan in two Twenty20 clashes in Edinburgh.

But even a crushing 84-run defeat in Wednesday’s showdown could not wipe the grin off Coetzer’s face as he looked back on a rare outing against ICC Full Member opposition.

The decision to reduce next year’s 50-over World Cup from 14 teams to 10 has already cost the Scots one chance to place themselves on the game’s biggest stage.

But Coetzer is determined to see his team take as many opportunities as they can to ensure they are not left out in the future.

He said: “It’s been a pretty special four days. I’d have said beforehand that if we came out of these three games having won one of them, we’d have taken that.

“But having won the first one we were hoping to go on and get a second.

“It wasn’t to be but we’ve played some excellent cricket over the four days. The atmosphere has been superb, people have filed through the gates and that is an absolute credit to Scottish cricket and everyone involved in setting this up.

“These kind of occasions are where we want to be and that’s what we’ll be pushing forward for.”

Scotland were unable to prevent a heavy defeat on Wednesday.

Scotland were unable to prevent a heavy defeat on Wednesday.

The Scots looked to have put themselves in with a chance to claiming another major scalp as Pakistan were limited to 166 for six.

But when opener George Munsey fell to a duck after just three balls, the Saltires reply crumbled and they were eventually bowled out for just 82 with five runs to spare.

They now head to Holland for a Tri-Series that also includes Ireland but Coetzer admitted he was frustrated there were no other clashes in his side’s diary.

“We have to use every occasion we have as we don’t get many of them,” he said. “We go now to Holland tomorrow. Holland two games, Ireland two games and that’s our schedule done for the summer.

“That’s disappointing in many ways, but we have been fast learners for quite some time now, considering the lack of games that associate teams play.

“Do we need more games? Yes. We’ve said it for a while and I’ve harped on about it enough to be honest. So have other teams. More cricket is key but that has to be balanced with the top teams not playing too much cricket.

“There is a balance there but hopefully one can be found.”

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