PAK vs SL 2nd Test: Sarfraz Ahmed Dismisses Complacency Claims
Sri Lanka and Pakistan entered the recently-concluded two-Test series on the back of some contrasting results. While Pakistan were basking in the glory of their Champions Trophy triumph and the win over World XI, Sri Lanka were under severe pressure after losing all the nine games (3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 1 T20I) against India at home.
However, the past form did not create much of a difference as the Islanders won both the games to inflict the first series defeat on Pakistan in UAE since the latter shifted base in 2009. There were suggestions that Pakistan were complacent but skipper Sarfraz Ahmed denied the claims following the 68-run loss and reasoned poor performance for the loss
“No, not at all. We played a Test series after quite a while and we prepared well for it. We didn’t play well, which is why we lost,” Sarfraz said after the loss.
“We didn’t play good cricket. Sri Lanka played much better than us. Our batting was a disappointment as no one was able to play for long and that cost us,” he added.
In three of the four innings, Pakistan suffered batting collapses the last of which ended their unbeaten record at UAE. The hosts, however, had the chance to surprise Sri Lanka when Sarfraz and Asad Shafiq were going high in the middle.
Chasing 317 to level the series, Pakistan were staring down the barrel after being reduced to 52 for five, but a 146-run stand between Sarfraz and Shafiq helped them to finish the fourth day on a promising 198. The duo began the proceedings on the final day, in the same manner, adding 27 runs before Sarfraz’s dismissal triggered another collapse and the hosts lost their last five wickets for just 23 runs.
“The thinking this morning when we came into the ground was to just play positive cricket, to rotate the strike, but unfortunately we didn’t get that going and that is why we lost,” Sarfraz said.
Sarfraz also explained the rationale behind demoting the in-form Azhar Ali in the batting order.
“I don’t think we faced difficulties because of the openers,” Sarfraz said. “Both openers gave us a good start in the first match but the thing is we couldn’t convert those scores. Our plan was to push Azhar to number three as he has had success there as well. Azhar had a great year as an opener, but we felt we need to strengthen our middle order. This series, we made fifties, but we didn’t convert them and we missed big partnerships. That is why we lost.”
The series was also Sarfraz’s first as a captain and the wicketkeeper-batsman admitted that leading a side in the longest format of the game is different.
“I have got to learn a lot. We made many mistakes in the series. This was my first series as captain and it was pretty tough. Captaincy is very different in Tests – as things changes session by session. The kind of knock Asad played, if we had got that in the last game, or in the first innings here, then we could’ve got out of it. I learnt a fair bit and I hope that whatever the next series is, we’ll try and improve on these,” he said.
“Obviously, when you have a first Test series as captain, and you lose it, pressure will be there of course. But I will try and get out of that. In ODIs our team is balanced and record is very good. We will have some senior players returning and I hope we’ll play better cricket there,” he added.
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