Karachi   -   Pakistan cricket team captain Sarfraz Ahmed has said that there is no need for him to apologise for their performances in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, saying his team worked hard to get the right results in England.

Addressing a press conference in Karachi after Pakistan team’s return from England, Sarfraz said the team responded very well after the defeat to India and bounced back strongly. “There is no need to say sorry. We worked hard and gave our best. We haven’t returned with 2-4 points, but with 11. We accept that we didn’t perform well as a team in the 1st 5 matches but it wasn’t as bad a performance as people are making it out to be,” he said.

The ball is now firmly in the PCB’s court after Sarfraz Ahmed declared he wished to continue as captain of Pakistan in all three formats. The captain said the job had been given to him by the PCB, and any decision to replace him must come through the same channel. “It’s not that I’m saying I refuse to resign. All I’m saying is the decision rests with the PCB, the same way as the decision to appoint me captain was taken by them. I’m sure they’ll take the decision that’s best for Pakistan,” Sarfraz said.

The captain said that there were plans in place to improve that metric but the change in the nature of wickets towards the end of the round-robin stage couldn’t allow his team to execute them. “It was in our mind that we have to make the most of any opportunity that comes to us to improve the net run rate,” he said and added: “We wanted to improve our run rate against Afghanistan. But the behaviour of the pitches had changed drastically. The pitches had gotten slow because of which that match went into the last over.”

Pakistan were required to pull off an improbable victory in their last group match, which required them to beat Bangladesh by more than 300 runs, to secure a semi-final berth. The equation dominated every discourse surrounding that contest. Sarfraz was misreported to have stated in the pre-match press conference that he eyed a score of 500. Taking the opportunity to clear the air, he said: “I had never said that we will score 500. In fact, I had said that it would need a miracle for us to score 500 and get the other team out on 100. Someone in the ground told me ‘Come on, Sarfaraz, we have to score 500’. And I said, ‘Well, okay’.”

The captain said that the poor start and rains also ruined the plans of reaching the World Cup semifinals. “We couldn’t do well against the West Indies in our tournament opener, but gained momentum by beating England, the home team and the favourites. Because of the delay in our next match, due to a washout against Sri Lanka, we had lost that momentum and it reflected in our performances against Australia and India.

“The overall performances have been good. The most junior bowler picked up 16 wickets. Babar Azam playing his first World Cup batted brilliantly and scored a century and half centuries. As a team, we put up a great fight but it is unfortunate that we couldn’t qualify for the semifinals,” he added.

Revealing that he had called for a meeting after the India defeat to address issues with the team, Sarfaraz Ahmed said: “In those 7 days after the loss to India, we took two days off. After that I called for a team meeting with all the players. Our management was not there. I spoke from my heart. I noted down mistakes that were made in the first five matches and discussed it with the players.

“The good thing is the players responded well. In the last 4 matches, we made an outstanding comeback. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to qualify for the semi-final. We acknowledge that we didn’t play well in the first 5 matches. Unfortunately we were not able to qualify because of the net run rate. Coahc Mickey Arthur handled personnel really well. After the India match, we had a tough time. The way the management handled the situation was very good,” he added.

The wicketkeeper has set his sights on next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia as the next challenge for the national team. “If we learn from our mistakes in the World Cup, I can take this team to the next level, especially with the World T20 Cup coming up next year in Australia,” Sarfraz said.