NEW ZEALAND IN UAE, 2018
Sarfraz wants the top order to lay the ideal platform. © Getty
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has chalked down a plan that’ll help his side better their 50-over form ahead of the all-important 2019 World Cup. It pertains to the top-order.
Sizeable contributions by the top-order are considered to be a recipe for success in 50-over cricket. In Pakistan’s case, it was underscored during the Asia Cup when in the two matches – against Hong Kong and Afghanistan – that they won had seen their top-three batsmen knit goodish partnerships.
Sarfraz spoke about the necessity of top-order clicking on the eve of the ODI series against New Zealand in an answer to a question that asked whether his side faced a mental block against the Kiwis as they have been on the losing side in the last 11 contests – a streak that stretches back to December 2014 when New Zealand were here the last time. “Most of the matches that we’ve lost [against New Zealand] were in New Zealand,” responded Sarfraz. “We have been performing well in the bowling, but it is our batting department that needs some fine tuning in ODIs. Especially, our top-order. Our struggle starts from there as we tend to lose early wickets and then fail to make a comeback in the match.
“Even if we do so, then we post 240-250 which is not good enough while playing against good sides. We have talked to our top-order batsmen regarding this that we need them to spend time on the wicket and set up platform for the rest of the batting lineup.”
There was again an emphasis on carrying the momentum forward. Ahead of his side’s T20I series against New Zealand last week, Sarfraz had said that he wanted his side to carry forward the rhythm that they have garnered by whitewashing Australia 3-0. So, with most of the players the same from the T20Is, Sarfraz expects his team to make the most of its current form.
It is also important to mention here that since their one-day series win against New Zealand in New Zealand in 2011, they’ve lost four bi-lateral series – which includes a five-match series in the UAE – to them.
“It’s very important for us [to get rid of the streak] and improve our ODI team performances,” he said. “We have to display good performances in the 18 matches ahead of the World Cup. Especially, in this series, we should try to make the most of the momentum that we have got … Of course, this series will be very important for the World Cup preparations. A win in here, that we call our home, will give us confident when we travel to South Africa. Our preparations have begun for the World Cup already. As it is approaching near, we are working more on it.”