“There is pressure that we are playing at home,” Sarfraz Ahmed said. © AFP
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed reckoned the Windies side which will play Pakistan in a three-match T20I series, commencing from Sunday, has “strong players” and his side will have to play good cricket to maintain their top position in the ICC T20I rankings.
Windies announced a 13-member squad which had only four players from the recently-concluded ICC World Cup Qualifiers. Their top players in Chris Gayle, Devendra Bishoo, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, and Carlos Brathwaite opted against touring Pakistan for three consecutive T20Is.
While answering a question on how difficult it would be for Pakistan to remain at the top of T20I charts after the series, Sarfraz said: “Obviously there’s a pressure because according to the new rankings we have to win all the matches so we have a pressure of not only winning the series but have to win 3-0 and for that we have to play very good cricket [according to the ICC’s rankings predictor, Pakistan will remain at the top if they win the series 2-1].
“On paper West Indies team is not strong but if you look at their batsmen, they have been playing T20 cricket for a while… We have closely monitored their performances in the CPL and all of them are very strong players. A team that plays better on the day wins in the shorter format. So, we have to play really good cricket.”
A Karachiite himself, Sarfraz made no secret about his fervor regarding playing international cricket in his hometown once again. The last time he donned Pakistan colours at the National Stadium Karachi was a decade ago during the 2008 Asia Cup.
“It’s a very good thing that international cricket is coming back (to Karachi) after nine years,” he said.
“It was heartening to see the way people responded to the PSL. The credit goes to the PCB and our agencies for how they organized PSL matches. I am also very excited as I’ve last played an international game here in 2008 against India and saw a capacity crowd and now I saw it to the full capacity again during the PSL final.
“Watching 35,000 people stand together and sing national anthem gave me goosebumps, though I was watching the match at home. It would have been extraordinary to be here and be a part of it.”
The elated skipper is also feeling the pressure. “There is pressure that we are playing at home… I’ve told the boys that it’s a chance to become a hero and if we perform in front of our home crowd the appreciation that we will get here, it will be nothing compared to what we find outside (Pakistan). Whosoever will perform will duly be appreciated here.”