Sarfraz Ahmed happy after Pakistan fight back against Australia in Abu Dhabi

Pakistan were under the cosh for large parts of the first day of the second Test in the UAE capital. (AFP)
Updated 16 October 2018
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Sarfraz Ahmed happy after Pakistan fight back against Australia in Abu Dhabi

  • Pakistan captain scores 96 after criticism having made just 74 runs in previous six Test innings.
  • Australia closed the day at 20 for two, trailing by 262 runs.

ABU DHABI: Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed said he was happy that he responded to pressure from all sides with a brilliant 96 on Tuesday on the first day of the second Test against Australia.
The 31-year-old added 147 runs for the sixth wicket with opener Fakhar Zaman — who also scored 96 — to lift Pakistan from a precarious 57 for five to 282 all out at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Australia closed the day at 20 for two, trailing by 262 runs with eight wickets in hand.
After his below-par 15-run innings and weak wicketkeeping in the first Test which ended with his team unable to turn a strong position into a victory, Sarfraz faced calls for his sacking as Test captain.
“Yeah the pressure was there, definitely,” said Sarfraz, who had made just 74 runs in the his six previous Test innings.
“A lot of it. You know it’s coming from all corners. Somebody is saying leave Test cricket, somebody is saying leave captaincy, some are saying leave him out of the team.
“When all this happens and you score runs then it’s a bit of relief and then to do it in a situation where you were 57 for five and in a really bad shape...”
Sarfraz said Pakistan had fought back admirably having seen Australia spinner spinner Nathan Lyon had rocked Pakistan in the morning, reaching lunch with figures of four for 12.
“It’s good that we scored 282 and then got two wickets, including that of Usman Khawaja because he can play a long innings, so I think it has become even for both the teams now,” said Sarfraz.
Sarfraz praised Zaman, who is playing his first Test.
“Fakhar played a brilliant knock and I got very good confidence from him because I like that the other batsmen rotate the strike and he did that and played brilliantly in his first match.
“He deserved credit for doing so well.”
The first Test in the two-match series ended in a draw in Dubai last week.


Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019
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Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”