Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed has urged the ICC and its member boards to do more to facilitate the return of international cricket to the country.
International cricket has been at a near standstill in Pakistan ever since the terror attacks on the Sri Lanka team bus at Lahore in 2009 and the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) were hoping to change that picture by inviting the same opposition for a limited-overs tour later this month.
However, those plans have received a big setback with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) currently reassessing the security conditions for the tour following a tip-off for a potential terrorist threat.
Sarfraz, who was on Friday retained as the Pakistan skipper for the upcoming clashes against Sri Lanka, feels that the international cricket community could do much more to help normalise the situation again in the country.
“I don’t know anything about this nor can I say who is behind the threat to Sri Lankan Board but I just think the ICC and member boards needs to do more to support the return of international cricket to Pakistan,” Sarfraz said in his address to the media on Friday.
Sarfaraz Ahmed retained Pakistan captain; Babar Azam appointed vice-captain— PCB Media (@TheRealPCBMedia) September 13, 2019
“Recently after the Easter bomb attacks (in Sri Lanka) the Pakistan board sent its Under-19 team to Sri Lanka at a time when everyone was wondering whether there would be international cricket in Sri Lanka again.
“The security situation has improved a lot and in the last few years we have successfully hosted cricket without any problem and there have been no security issues.”
Having been retained as the Pakistan skipper for the Sri Lanka clashes, Sarfraz is hoping to work with new head coach cum chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq to change the flailing fortunes of the ODI side.
“I am aware we have not done justice to our potential in ODIs, which has disappointed us as well as our fans,” he said.
“I am hopeful we will be able to turn things around in the coming season and in this relation, I remain committed to stepping up to the challenge with my performances and captaincy.
“I have complete faith in my team, which has time and again shown the talent, class and charisma it possesses. The only thing missing has been consistency, which Misbah and I would like to focus and improve across all departments of the game.”
Sarfraz will have Babar Azam as his deputy skipper for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka which is slated to begin on September 27 with the first ODI.
Hosts India have already started their preparations for the ICC event next year with a 3-0 series clean sweep in the West Indies and skipper Virat Kohli feels that the upcoming clashes against the Proteas will be another chance for the team to fine-tune its T20 preparations.
“We have 30 matches left before the World T20 and this is the best opportunity for us to try and check what our best combination is in the next two or three series,” the India skipper stated on the eve of the first T20I.
“We will also understand how much ability, character and composure the new players possess while performing at the international level.
“From that point of view, it is exciting for a captain to try different players and check out combinations. We have all come through that process and I feel happy when I see these new faces emerging, trying to express themselves.”
Some of the new faces that impressed in India’s tour of the West Indies were middle-order batsman Shreyas Iyer, off-spin all-rounder Washington Sundar and pacer Navdeep Saini. Kohli and the Indian team management will want to the youngsters to keep up that promising form as they look to quell South Africa’s challenge on home soil.
For the visitors, it will be their first international assignment since their disastrous World Cup campaign and they come into the series with a majorly rejigged and inexperienced squad led by stand-in skipper Quinton de Kock.
Life without the likes of Hashim Amla, Imran Tahir and JP Duminy starts now for South Africa but Rassie van der Dussen is backing De Kock to extract the maximum from a relatively inexperienced T20 squad.
“We obviously know what he (De Kock) is as a player and how many games he’s won for South Africa, and what he brings to the team in terms of cricketing capability,” Rassie van der Dussen stated.
“I think having the leadership band around his arm is just going to bring more out of him. He really wants to do well in India, always. We as a team really want to walk away with a series win. Everything we do is gearing up to that.”
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini.
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (c and wk), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Junior Dala, Tabraiz Shamsi.
India skipper Virat Kohli has stressed that the team management and MS Dhoni are on the same page with regards to the veteran wicketkeeper’s international future.
Dhoni’s India future has been under constant speculation since the end of the 2019 World Cup campaign in England with the veteran subsequently taking a two-month sabbatical from cricket.
The 38-year-old opted out of India’s recent tour of the West Indies and he will be unavailable for the upcoming home clashes against South Africa as well. In his stead, India’s selectors have opted to groom young Rishabh Pant with the gloves across all three formats of the game.
Even as Dhoni’s future remains up in the air, Kohli has hailed the former India skipper and has backed him to prove his detractors wrong.
“One great thing about him (Dhoni) is that, he thinks for Indian cricket,” Kohli said on the eve of the first T20 between India and South Africa at Dharamsala.
“And whatever we (team management) think, he is on the same page. The alignment is there. The kind of mindset he has had about grooming youngsters and giving them opportunities, and he is still the same person,”
“Look, experience is always going to matter whether you like it or not. I mean there are a numerous number of times people have given up on sportsmen and they have proved people wrong and he has done that many times in his career as well. As long as he is available and continues to play, he is going to be very valuable.
While India’s selectors and team management see Pant as the long-term successor to take the gloves in all three formats, Kohli feels that the timing of Dhoni’s retirement should be left to the veteran entirely.
“When you decide to stop playing is an absolutely individual thing, and no one else should have an opinion on it, that’s what I think,” the India skipper remarked.