Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed insists there’s no reason why he should move himself up the batting order, saying he’s happy with the team combination ahead of Monday’s second ODI against Sri Lanka.
Questions have been raised that Sarfraz, who bats at number six in the line-up, should be promoted up the order due to his aggressive instinct.
The last time Sarfraz batted higher than sixth was in fifth against the West Indies 12 months ago, scoring unbeaten knocks of 60 and 24 in the UAE. Prior to that, he had managed scores of 55, 105, 38, 12 and 90 in the same position after Mohammad Hafeez was absent in the ODI series during their England tour in 2016.
But following the team’s 83-run victory in the first ODI in Dubai on Friday, where Hafeez and Shoaib Malik scored 32 and 81, the team has no plans to tinker with their line-up for the second ODI in Abu Dhabi.
“The England ODI series was last year so at that time we had a different combination because Hafeez was not there,” said the 30-year-old. “Here in Dubai, Hafeez played well at number four and Shoaib Malik played well also, so the team comes first and I want to keep that same combination.”
Sarfraz will be counting on the same team to prevail on Monday after confirming an unchanged 11 but wants the batsmen to rotate the strike in the capital.
“There are a few things to address,” he said. “We missed a few things. In Dubai, the first 10 overs we didn’t take singles so it’s important to address but otherwise the team’s overall performance was good.
“We played well in Dubai overall, so the expectations are high going into the second game. We have done good preparation. We will do our best but we want to take it one game at a time.”
For Sri Lanka, their preparation for the match has been overshadowed whether the T20 side will travel to Lahore for the final game of the three-match series later this month.
Media were told before the press conference that skipper Upul Tharanga will not comment on the case until the Sri Lankan board makes the decision on Monday whether they will fly to Pakistan for the first time since the militant’s attack on the team bus in 2009.
The team’s immediate concern is bouncing back from the ODI defeat in Dubai. Their record with the white ball has been poor with their last series win coming almost a year ago in the tri-series involving Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and West Indies in November 2016.
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Tharanga made it clear the batting is an area that needs major improvement if they are to turn around their poor form after Lahiru Thirimanne and Akila Dananjaya only scored fifties in Dubai.
“Last few seasons this has happened,” said Tharanga, who is searching for his first series win as captain since being appointed in July. “We need big knocks and if you need big totals someone has to go onto post a big total. Babar Azam got a hundred for Pakistan as they got close to 300. In ODIs, one batsman needs to score big and that is the only way forward to post decent totals.
“This series when it started we spoke about batting because batting has let us down over the last few series. We tried to tell the players what is their role. All the players are aware of their roles. I hope from tomorrow [Tuesday] onwards we will come up with good batting efforts.”
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