Karachi, July 7 (IANS) Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed remained defiant that the team did well in their World Cup sojourn, stating on Sunday that he does not need to be sorry for their performances.
Pakistan finished fifth in the points table, level on 11 points with New Zealand. But the Kiwis qualified as the fourth team for the semifinals owing to better net run rate.
“There is no need to say sorry. We worked hard and gave our best. We haven’t returned with 2-4 points, but with 11. We accept that we didn’t perform well as a team in the 1st 5 matches but it wasn’t as bad a performance as people are making it out to be,” Sarfaraz Ahmed said during his first press conference on reaching home.
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur had urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to give the head-to-head record a higher priority than the net run rate after the team’s final game of the World Cup against Bangladesh.
Pakistan went into the match against Bangladesh on Friday needing to win by a record margin in order to pip New Zealand to the last semi-final slot on the basis of net run rate.
Batting first, they ended their innings on 315/9 and needed to bowl out Bangladesh for seven in order to get to the top four. They eventually won the match by a comprehensive margin of 94 runs but that wasn’t enough for them to seal a spot in the semi-final.
“It was present in our mind that we have to make the most of any opportunity that comes to us to improve the (net) run rate,” Sarfaraz said.
“We wanted to improve our run rate against Afghanistan. But the behaviour of the pitches had changed drastically. The pitches had gotten slow because of which that match went into the last over,” he reasoned.
Sarfaraz also opened up on the team’s morale after their deflating defeat to arch-rivals India.
After the harrowing defeat, Sarfaraz had to urge his fans to refrain from abuse while criticising his team’s performance in what is being seen as his first reaction to the abusive jokes that were hurled at him.
In a video that went viral, a Pakistani fan was even seen body-shaming Ahmed. The fan — who met Sarfaraz at a mall in London after the India match while the latter was carrying his son — called out to the skipper and asked him why he was “fat as a pig.” While the cricketer chose to walk away, the man followed him and continued, saying: “You’ve become very fat, like a pig. You should diet less.”
“In those 7 days (after the loss to India), we took two days off. After that I called for a team meeting with all the players. Our management was not there. I spoke from my heart. I noted down mistakes that were made in the first 5 matches and discussed it with the players,” Sarfaraz said.
“The good thing is the players responded well. In the last four matches, we made an outstanding comeback. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to qualify for the semi-final. We acknowledge that we didn’t play well in the first five matches. Unfortunately we were not able to qualify because of the net run rate.
“As a team, we performed well. Most players, including seniors and young ones, performed well. They performed their roles well. I want to thank the support staff as well. They put in a lot of hard work. They tried their best to push us to better things.
“MIckey Arthur, our coach, handled personnel really well. After the India match, we had a tough time. The way the management handled the situation was very good.”