Pakistan seek Champions Trophy inspiration as WI loom - GulfToday

Pakistan seek Champions Trophy inspiration as WI loom

Sarfaraz-Ahmed-and-Jason-Holder

Sarfaraz Ahmed and Jason Holder attend a press conference on Thursday. AFP

Pakistan will seek inspiration from their dramatic Champions Trophy win in England two years ago when they take the field in their opening World Cup match against a resurgent West Indies on Friday.

Pakistan have lost their past ten one-day internationals including a 5-0 whitewash by Australia and 4-0 thumping by England, and their problems were further compounded when they went down to outsiders Afghanistan by three wickets in a warm-up match.

But skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed hopes his side will draw inspiration from when they were in a similar position in 2017.

“We will seek inspiration from our Champions Trophy win because then also we were losing and then lifted ourselves at the right time to win the trophy,” Sarfaraz said ahead of the game in Nottingham.

Pakistan had lost 4-1 in Australia before the tournament and arch-rivals India whipped them by 124 runs in the opening game of the Trophy.

But Pakistan then beat South Africa, Sri Lanka and England on their way to the final, where they thumped India by 180 runs.

“The boys are motivated and are eager to put these losses behind them and by playing in England for a month we are well prepared and you will hopefully see us doing well,” said Sarfaraz, one of Pakistan’s only two survivors from the 2015 World Cup, with left-handed batsman Haris Sohail the other.

Sarfaraz will also hope his spearhead Mohammad Amir -- playing his first World Cup after missing the 2011 and 2015 editions due to a spot-fixing ban -- will put a great show through out the tournament.

“We know Amir is an impact bowler and he knows his responsibilities and I am sure he will lift his bowling and get us early wickets,” said Sarfaraz of Amir.

However, left-arm pacer might not feature in Pakistan’s opening clash against West Indies due to poor fitness.

Geo News reported that Amir is not completely fit and has informed coach Mickey Arthur about it. He has asked for more time to rest before gearing up for the remaining matches in the tournament.

The report also claimed that the team management has decided to not let him play on Friday at the Trent Bridge.

The 27-year-old has been facing fitness issues ever since he arrived in England. He didn’t feature in the three ODIs against England due to a viral infection. However, he was included in the team in place of Faheem Ashraf despite his poor performance in the last fifteen ODIs where he picked just five wickets.

His form will be crucial for Pakistan -- he has taken just five wickets in 15 matches since his match-winning three wickets against India in the Champions Trophy final.

Pakistan have only won three times in 10 World Cup matches against the two-time world champions, including a thumping 150-run loss at Christchurch in 2015.

Andre Russell smashed a 13-ball 42 with four sixes and then took three wickets as Pakistan were blown away.

Russell smashed 54 off 25 balls and Hope hit a century to propel the West Indies to 421 in their warm-up win against New Zealand on Tuesday.

That prompted all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite to say his team can break the 500-barrier.

“If you are asking me if we are capable of it, definitely we are,” Brathwaite said. “However, in a real game you probably won’t have the depth in batting at 10 and 11 that we had today. So you need to be a little real about the target.”

West Indies are also returning to form after sneaking their way into the World Cup through a qualifying round in Zimbabwe last year.

They squared a one-day series against top-ranked side and pre-tournament favourites England 2-2 at home earlier this year before losing the final of a tri-series to Bangladesh in Ireland.

Pakistan and West Indies are the two most unpredictable sides. But no matter how unpredictable these two sides can be, on their day, they can beat any top side in the world.

Pakistan didn’t have the most ideal preparation for the showpiece event.

Pakistan at ICC tournaments have traditionally been a notch above what they are at other times and this is what Sarfaraz Ahmad, the Pakistan skipper and the cricket fans would be hoping for.

Pakistan have the likes of Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman who are in great form. And in their bowling department, they have the likes of Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali who can wreak havoc on any batting line-up in the world.

The only thing that they need to be wary off is their fielding which has let them down in the past and can prove costly in this tournament, too.

West Indies, on the other hand, have been in good form in the recent times. They held tournament favourites England to a stalemate at home earlier this year. They also boast of having the big power hitters like Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Shai Hope in their batting line-up which can explode against any opposition and make a mockery of their bowling attack.

Agence France-Presse