Birmingham: Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed seemed to a happy man after his team registered a comfortable win over New Zealand and kept their hopes alive of making it to the semifinals of the ongoing World Cup.
Pakistan had to face a lot of criticism, both from fans and former cricketers, post their 89-run defeat to arch-rivals India on June 16. However, they came back strongly to first register a convincing 49-run win over South Africa and on Wednesday, they produced another clinical performance to beat the Black Caps –who were till then unbeaten in the tournament – by six wickets at Edgbaston.
“Good to see the results today. Whenever Pakistan team is pushed to the corner, we do well,” said Sarfaraz at the post-match presentation ceremony. He also said that it was a complete team effort from his side that saw them cross the line against the Kane Williamson-led side.
It were pacers Shaheen Afridi and Mohammed Amir who made early inroads in the New Zealand batting line-up and helped Pakistan restrict the Black Caps for 237/6. James Neesham (97*) and Colin de Grandhomme (64) played brilliant knocks under pressure else the Kiwis would have been bowled for a much lower total.
During the chase, Babar Azam (101*) scored an unbeaten century and was well supported by Haris Sohail (68) as the 1992 champions reached the target with five balls to spare. “It’s a great team effort, firstly the bowlers. The way Amir started and then Shaheen… Shadab in the middle overs and the way Babar and Haris batted. To me Babar played one of the best innings I have seen,” said Sarfaraz.
“It was a tricky pitch and that’s why we wanted to bat 50 overs. Credit to Haris as well for the way he handled pressure. It was not easy to face the off-spinner,” he added. Pakistan’s performance in the ongoing tournament has been exactly similar to that of the 1992 edition of the World Cup which they won under the leadership of Imran Khan.
“We are not thinking about the 1992 World Cup, we are taking game by game here. We are confident as a team and hopefully we will do well,” said Sarfaraz. Pakistan, with seven points from seven games, will now face Afghanistan on Saturday and then will travel to London to play their last group stage match against Bangladesh on July 5.