LAHORE - Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed has termed pace battery M Amir, Junaid Khan and Hasan Ali as 'match winning bowlers' saying they have potential to shatter world's top batting order and can inspire the team to triumphs.
Talking to the reporters here on Monday, Sarfraz said: “It is not necessary that a bowler can only be effective, if he has top pace in his bowling, a bowler with lesser pace but accurate swing, line and length can prove more lethal. It is good omen for the team that Hasan Ali has enhanced its pace.”
He said Asia Cup is a new challenge for the team, which is in good spirit to demonstrate a high level game to live up to the expectation in the mega event starting from September 15 in UAE. "Asia Cup is a big and challenging event amid participation of top Asian teams, which are also ruling the world cricket and are equipped with best players, it is going to a thrilling event for us.
"Considering Afghanistan and Hong Kong 'weaker opponents' will not be a fair thought and we have to put up good performance against every opponent, setting aside its low standing or might in the game. The most important aspect is to create a winning momentum for the team and to maintain it till the final and it is only possible with collective efforts and team work,” he said.
"The most important thing for us is to play positive cricket with a mind set to achieve excellence which we demonstrated in last edition of the Champions Trophy and we need a similar approach as Champions Trophy success is now a saga of past and we are at the threshold of a new event,” he added.
He termed the match against India ‘very vital’ saying, “a higher display of quality cricket will be key to success against the arch-rivals and to keep the hopes alive for qualifying for the final.” Replying to a question about Virat Kohli, he said it seems that it is Kohli's own request to rest and not to participate in the event, so the the team management has given him rest.
He said veteran batsman M Hafeez is a part of pool of players named for next year's World Cup and he can make a comeback at a stage when team needs his services based on his experience. “M Hafeez is an important player and is in our plans for the World Cup next year. We will include him in the team whenever it’s necessary. Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq never said that Hafeez’ career is over." The captain said the team has worked really hard in hot and humid weather during the training camp and it is in good shape to thwart tough challenges in the event. He said Pakistani team in batting and bowling are performing good and urged the fellow colleagues to go all-out in the event by showcasing their individual talent in their respective departments of the game.
"Conditions are slow in UAE and spinners are likely to play a big role on such type of surface and batting under lights becomes difficult and we will be aiming to put up a score of over 300 runs to make things easy for our bowlers so that they should defend that total with their skillful bowling,” the captain added.
To another query, he said in case of replacement of player during the Asia Cup, the players of Pakistan A team, which is also touring UAE in the same dates, can be given consideration. “Wicketkeepers M Hassan and M Rizwan are his substitutes and both keepers, who are part of Pakistan A team, are being groomed at the National Cricket Academy.
"In a series of four to five Test matches, the team needs an additional keeper but since my selection in the team, we have played less number of Test matches and that is why the need of a substitute keeper was not felt in the side. I will not be feeling threatened at a stage when it is needed to include another keeper in the team rather I will make way for him,” Sarfraz concluded.
Meanwhile, Pakistan team will launch its campaign in the Asia Cup on September 15 by taking on little known qualifier Hong Kong at UEA. Pakistan, twice winner of Asia Cup in year 2000 and 2012, will be playing arch-rivals India in its second match on September 19. The 16-member Pakistani side, under the captaincy of Sarfraz Ahmad, will be leaving tonight (Monday) for UAE fort taking part in the event. This year's Asia Cup will see the participation of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Hong Kong.
The super eight stage of the cup will be played from September 21-26 with the final on September 28.