Sarfraz acknowledges run-rate issue prevailed, blames unfavourable pitches

KARACHI: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed on Sunday acknowledged the run rate issue prevented team from qualifying for semi-finals and blamed pitches for being unfavourable for scoring big runs.

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Speaking in a press conference after returning to Pakistan from England on early Sunday morning, skipper said that the team had realised the issue of run-rate after its first match of the World Cup tournament — in which West Indies dismissed Pakistan for a disappointing 105 — and later tried to win matches with good margins but the pitches were not favourable.

Acknowledging that the team’s performance was dismal at the beginning of the World Cup, Sarfraz said, “We are feeling as sorry as the nation [after exit from World Cup]. No one goes there to lose.”

“After the first match, we gained momentum but unfortunately we could not play against Sri Lanka because of rain and in the two next matches — against Australia and India — our performance was not good,” he said.

“The next seven days after the defeat to India were very tough for the team. After the match, we took a two-day break and then I called a meeting with all 15 players, without the management. I discussed everything I had observed during the first five matches, all that we were doing wrong, and all the players responded well and gave their feedback.”

Sarfraz, while praising the coach Mickey Arthur and the management for the way they handled the team after defeat at the hands of India, said, “the team then performed very well in the remaining four matches. All players, juniors as well as seniors, played their part and I am happy with them as a captain.”

“As far as Shoaib [Malik] is concerned, unfortunately, he was not a part of the final match because we tried to go with a winning combination. He was given a farewell by the team and our best wishes are with him.”

“Now, we will take a break for the next 20 days and then make a new return.”

When asked about his performance during the first five matches and whether he was under pressure from anyone, Sarfaraz denied being under pressure from either Coach Mickey Arthur or chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq.

He added that he was not giving up his captaincy but clarified that the final decision would be taken by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

When asked if he had a say in the team selection, he said: “The team was constituted by consensus.”

On Monday, all-rounder Imad Wasim and leg-spinner Shadab Khan will hold press conferences in Rawalpindi while on Tuesday, batsmen Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq will speak to the press in Lahore.

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