ISLAMABAD   -   Former Test fast bowler Sarfaraz Nawaz urged Pakistan cricket team to be ruthless against Afghanistan in the highly important ICC World Cup match to be played at Headingly, Leeds today (Saturday).

Talking to The Nation from England, Sarfaraz, who is the inventor of reverse swing, said: “Sun is very hot in UK as the temperature is 30 centigrade, so the pitch will be hard and I suggest Sarfraz Ahmed to bat first and try to post decent total on the board. I think it is best time to introduce Muhammad Hussnain in the playing XI, as he has pace of bowling around 145km plus while Imad should pave way for Hussnain and Pakistan should go with four pacers, as Afghans can play spinners very well, but they are shy of playing rising deliveries.”

He said: “Pakistan team can’t afford to relax and any complacency can spell disaster for the green caps. After back-to-back victories against South Africa and New Zealand, Pakistan has finally gained the momentum and they must carry on with the good work. They must also try to win the match against Afghanistan with decent margin to improve their run-rate, which is still in minus.

“Afghans are playing very intelligent cricket, but they lack experience, which is the main reason behind their loss against Sri Lanka and India. Pakistan must beware of the genuine threat Afghans pose, as they are second last hurdle in Pakistan’s path towards the semifinals,” he added.

Sarfaraz said: “I think Pakistani openers need to up the tempo, as the way they consume too many precious deliveries without rotating the strike, it can be harmful against Afghans. I think they should have beaten Kiwis with at least 5 overs to spare, but they drag the match into the final over. I think Sarfraz Ahmed was highly fortunate that he lost the toss, as half of his work was reduced by Williamson by opting to bat first.

“Pakistani bowlers especially Aamir and Shaheen Shah managed to provide early breakthroughs, but they failed to take advantage of removing the Kiwis middle order. For me, Shaheen Shah bowled one of the best spells of his life till date, as his deliveries were almost unplayable. Pakistan had gained upper hand by removing Williamson very early, but the bowlers failed to remove Neesham and Grandhomme, who did a fantastic job and had almost taken the match away from Pakistan with their solid partnership,” he asserted.

He said but the real difference was Babar Azam and Haris Sohail’s classic batting display. They batted with lot of authority and earned well-deserving victory for Pakistan. But I feel their job was made easier by New Zealand skipper Williamson, who himself started bowling. Yes he did took a wicket, but that almost took the pressure away from Pakistan and later it was proved that Kiwis missed the trick, as their secret weapon Santner was bowling exceptional deliveries but was not able to provide wickets, while drop catches also didn’t help Kiwis cause. It was all about fortune, which favours the brave. Pakistan team needs to play aggressive and positive cricket and leave the rest.”

“Afghanistan has nothing to lose so they will play fearless cricket. I think same apply on Pakistan as well, as by losing three matches, minus run-rate, Pakistan team was almost at the brink of elimination from the World Cup. They have played superb cricket, beaten tough opponents and now once again, they have chance of making it to the semifinals. Their destiny lies in their own hands, as if they play according to their strength and don’t let their feet above the ground, they are bound to defeat Afghanistan and Bangladesh as well,” Sarfaraz concluded.