Mickey Arthur backs Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed

Updated 08 February 2019

Mickey Arthur backs Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed

LAHORE: Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said it was time to move on from captain Sarfraz Ahmed’s four-match ban for a racial taunt and concentrate on winning World Cup.
Sarfraz was reaffirmed on Tuesday as captain to the end of the World Cup in July, despite the Pakistan Cricket Board saying its policy was to name the captain on a series-to-series basis.
Pakistan media have questioned the Sarfraz decision, including whether it was a political riposte at the ICC for banning Sarfraz.
But Arthur said: “We’ve made that decision because we are very comfortable with Sarfraz leading this team forward. There’s clarity, there’s no more speculation.”
Private broadcaster Geo News wondered whether the PCB did a U-turn or succumbed to pressure from unnamed quarters.
On the national team’s return on Friday from the tour of South Africa, Arthur said PCB chairman Ehsan Mani talked with him and chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq before reappointing Sarfraz as captain.
“We’ve made that decision because we are very comfortable with Sarfraz leading this team forward,” Arthur said in Lahore. “There’s clarity, there’s no more speculation.”
Sarfraz was banned for racially taunting South Africa allrounder Andile Phehlukwayo in an ODI last month in Durban. He returned home and missed the last two one-day internationals and the entire three-match Twenty20 series.
“What he did was wrong and it was worked through,” Arthur said. “Saffy took it on the chin, he apologized, he moved forward, everything was handled properly.”
Arthur believed Sarfraz’s main job is wicketkeeping, and he was not worried about his captain’s dip in batting form.
“He (Sarfraz) has dropped eight balls in four and a half months, so he is not out of form in his core job,” Arthur said. “I’m not, and I want to reiterate, not worried about Sarfraz Ahmed’s (batting) form.”
Pakistan lost the test, ODI, and T20 series in South Africa.
While Arthur acknowledged Pakistan needed to improve a lot in Test matches, he was disappointed to lose the ODIs 3-2 and the T20s 2-1.
“We thought we were as good as South Africa in those conditions,” he said.
Arthur criticized the test pitches as none of the games went to the fifth day. But Arthur said Pakistan was not the only team which has struggled in South Africa.
“I don’t think there’s any coincidence that no Asian team has won a Test series in South Africa,” he said. “So we know we’ve got a lot of work to do with our test side.”
He picked out Babar Azam for praise, for becoming the batting mainstay in white-ball cricket.
“South Africa is the toughest place to bat ... to see Babar Azam’s development across all formats on this tour was simply amazing and I think was something to be proud,” he said.
The South African-born Arthur said he had a pool of about 20 players from which the final 15 will be picked for the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales.
“We’re probably ahead of lot of other teams ... we have condensed our pool and now have to finalize it after the Australia tour (in March), so we are pretty much on track.”


Boult, Southee rattle Sri Lanka in second Test

Updated 23 August 2019

Boult, Southee rattle Sri Lanka in second Test

  • Weather permitting, extended playing time is planned for the day after only 36.3 overs were possible on Thursday due to rain in the Sri Lankan capital

COLOMBO: Trent Boult and Tim Southee led New Zealand’s charge against Sri Lanka on day two of the rain-hit second Test on Friday, with the host skipper Dimuth Karunaratne’s offering resistance with a half-century.
Boult took two early wickets in one over after Sri Lanka resumed the day on 85 for two at Colombo’s P. Sara Oval, where the start was delayed due to a wet outfield.
Sri Lanka were 144 for six at lunch with Dhananjaya de Silva, on 32, and Dilruwan Perera, on five, at the crease.
Southee, like Boult, also delivered a double-wicket maiden as the duo put on a superb display of seam bowling under overcast conditions.
Boult got overnight batsman Angelo Mathews caught behind for two to reach a landmark of 250 Test wickets — only the third Kiwi bowler to achieve the feat.
He trapped Kusal Perera lbw for nought after just three balls as Sri Lanka slipped to 93-4 and would have been in further trouble had Boult held on to a simple catch from de Silva off his own bowling a few overs later.
Karunaratne also got a lifeline on 61 when Kane Williamson could not grab a tough chance at short mid-wicket off Ajaz Patel.
But the left-hander, who completed his 23rd Test fifty after resuming the day on 49, soon fell, caught behind off Southee for 65.
Southee struck again in the same over to send Niroshan Dickwella trudging back to the pavilion for nought.
Perera then played out the rest of the session with de Silva.
Medium-pace bowler Colin de Grandhomme and spinner William Somerville took a wicket each on the opening day after Sri Lanka elected to bat first.
Weather permitting, extended playing time is planned for the day after only 36.3 overs were possible on Thursday due to rain in the Sri Lankan capital.