Sarfraz Ahmed wants Pakistan to play like top-ranked T20 side against Australia

Denzil Pinto 19:33 23/10/2018
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Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has challenged his team to show they are the world’s top-ranked side when they face Australia in the three-match T20 series.

The two nations will meet in the opening game on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi – just four days after the ‘hosts’ completed a 1-0 Test series victory.

Pakistan have a tremendous record in the shortest format having won 19 of their last 23 matches. The last three of those victories came in the tri-series in Zimbabwe with Australia on the receiving end of two defeats including the final in Harare.

And Sarfraz is hopeful they can extend their winning record in the UAE.

“This series is very important for us. We are playing against Australia,” said the 31-year-old. “They have always been a strong outfit in T20 and we will try our level best to play good cricket.

“We have been giving good performances in the last one year in T20 cricket and we will try to play well to keep our number one ranking intact.”

Sarfraz revealed his starting 11 with all-rounder Imad Wasim back in the team after almost a year following impressive domestic form, while there is no place for Shoaib Malik. The 36-year-old flew back to Pakistan to be with his pregnant wife Sania Mirza and will be back in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

The skipper enters the match with pressure off of him, having scored 94 and 81 in the second Test.

But Sarfraz acknowledges he has to deliver consistently to silence his critics. “I think you improve when you start winning but when you are captaining the team there is always some pressure because you have to carry the team. Things improve when you start doing well.”

He admits one man they will have to be wary of is Chris Lynn. The 28-year-old was not part of the Australia squad in the tri-series in July and given his pedigree, Sarfraz admits they must get him early to improve their chances of victory.

“Though they don’t have some senior players, they do have Lynn coming back into the team. It will be a good contest and we will try to perform well. We have to get Lynn early.”

Spot-fixing allegations

On Monday, the Pakistan Cricket Board rejected claims that four Pakistan matches were involved in spot-fixing.

Sarfraz reiterated that the PCB are doing everything they can to assist players on anti-corruption but said ultimately it is down to the players to show responsibility.

“I have said it before and will say it again it is the responsibility of the Pakistan Cricket Board and they are taking the lead as well,” he added. “We have been taking lectures on anti-corruption as well. I’ve been with the PCB since 2006. When I was in the Under-19 team we were given a briefing on anti-corruption.

“The same happened during my time with Pakistan A and the national team as well but players should also understand what is good and what is bad.

“We boys know everything and if they get involved in any wrong practices then they are to be blamed. They have to be responsible.”

Pakistan line-up: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez,  Fakhar Zaman, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Hassan Ali, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf

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