Determined Sarfraz aims to end England tour on a high


MANCHESTER: Sarfraz Ahmed is ready to put his stamp on Pakistan’s Twenty20 captaincy, in his first match in charge since his appointment five months ago.
Sarfraz inherits a squad with a belated feel-good factor after his and Shoaib Malik’s big-hitting helped the majority of them re-discover a winning feeling against England in Sunday’s final One-day International in Cardiff.
That brought a sole consolation success at the end of the ODI series, preventing a maiden 5-0 whitewash on home soil for England.
Victory in the one-off Twenty20 International at Old Trafford on Wednesday would therefore earn the tourists a claim to be honours even over all formats — if not a share of the Super Series England have already wrapped up — after the drawn four-Test series.
For Sarfraz, the time has come to begin establishing a new era as successor to veteran Shahid Afridi — who stepped down as captain after Pakistan’s early exit from last spring’s ICC World Twenty20.
“I am really excited about the captaincy,” the wicket-keeper/batsman said, on the eve of what is likely to prove a tough examination of his team’s credentials against Eoin Morgan’s World Twenty20 finalists.
Sarfraz is eager to bring his own adventurous approach to bear. “Representing the country is a big achievement, but I am really excited to lead. I am trying to lead everything and to play positive cricket and win tomorrow.”
Pakistan’s limited-overs teams have been notably less successful in recent years than their table-topping Test counterparts.
Sarfraz, a regular in all formats, is intent on greater consistency.
“The Test team is very settled — they have played six years together,” he said. “After the [2015] World Cup, we are trying to develop a new ODI team — and the morale is high after Cardiff.
“It’s a positive thing for us to win from 4-0 down – a great achievement chasing 300 outside of Asia.
“We are very confident. We are trying to develop a new team with youngsters and play Twenty20 like England and Australia.”
Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq has become a unifying force, and role model for Sarfraz.
“I think Misbah is an inspiration for all the team — he inspired me,” he said. “I have developed something from him and will try my best.”
Umar Akmal remains a notable absentee from Pakistan’s squad, following his disciplinary issues over the past year, and Sarfraz would be delighted to see the powerful batsman back soon.