No need to be sorry for World Cup exit, says Sarfaraz
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed said there’s no reason to be apologetic after Pakistan failed to qualify for the semifinals of Cricket World Cup, narrowly losing out to New Zealand because of its inferior net run rate.
“There’s no need to say sorry because it is not like that we are coming back with two or four points next to our name,” Sarfaraz told reporters on Sunday after arriving home from England.
“We couldn’t play well initially, but picked up later in the tournament,” he added.
Pakistan, with 11 points, finished fifth in the 10-team tournament but was pipped out of the semifinals by the Kiwis, who finished with the same number of points but had a better run rate than Sarfaraz’s team.
The 1992 champions had just three points after five matches after losing to Australia and arch rival India but managed to win against England and got a point from its washout game against Sri Lanka.
However, the return of fast bowler Shaheen Afridi and Haris Sohail in the middle order saw Pakistan win its last four games against South Africa, New Zealand, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Eventually, its heavy defeat against West Indies in the first match cost Pakistan as it could not improve its net run rate enough to finish ahead of New Zealand.
“It was in our minds that we have to make the most of an opportunity that comes to us to improve the run rate,” Sarfaraz said.
“But the pitches weren’t supporting as they had gotten slow because of which some of our matches went into the last over.”
Sarfaraz said the team was “mentally hurt” after it lost the match against India and came under severe criticism from both fans and former test cricketers on social media for seven days.
“It was really difficult for us to cope with the things that happened,” Sarfaraz said. “A lot of things happened after the India game which was mentally hurtful to the players. We were also distressed by that defeat like every fan.
“It wasn’t only me who was subjected to slurring, but many other players were also targeted in the shopping malls. Some things that happened did not come to the fore and we have reported them to the team management.”
Sarfaraz said there was turnaround in the performance of the team after the defeat against India when he called a players’ meeting.
“The team responded really well and everyone gave their opinion and it reflected from our four straight wins from there on,” he said.
Sarfaraz also defended his decision not to leave out Shoaib Malik in the last match against Bangladesh as the allrounder announced his retirement from ODIs after the match.
“We wanted to give a good send off to him, but we wanted to keep the winning combination because of which he couldn’t play the last match,” he said. “He (Malik) has made a lot of contributions for Pakistan cricket and we did what we could in the dressing room and gave him a farewell.”
Sarfaraz has captained Pakistan in all three formats of the game but said it was up to the Pakistan Cricket Board to decide his future.
“The decision has to be taken by the cricket board, they know who’s better for the role,” he said. “I am at a stage that now I know these players really well. All of these guys, except (Mohammad) Hafeez and Malik, are junior. Our T20 team is in good shape. We will look to induct players who can bring more quality to the side. Now, we will work to put up a better show in the next assignment.”