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Sarfraz wants Pakistan to post 300-plus in every Asia Cup game

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LAHORE: Pakistan cricket captain Sarfraz Ahmad on Monday expressed his satisfaction at the team’s preparations for the upcoming Asia Cup and said his desire is to see his team setting winning targets of 300-plus in every match of the event.
Talking to journalists here on Monday before the Pakistan team’s departure for the UAE, which is scheduled in the wee hours on Tuesday, Sarfraz said:” Our preparations went well in the hectic camp set up in Lahore amid hot weather. We did five days practice and then played one practice match and assessed the shortcomings.”
“In the UAE, due to hot weather and humidity, it is hard to bat in the night under floodlights and so every team will be keen to bat first,” he said. “I want my batsmen to score 300-plus while batting first as our bowling attack is really good and quite capable of defending it.”
“First priority is to get early momentum in the Asia Cup as we got it in the ICC Champions Trophy in the matches against Sri Lanka and South Africa and successfully carried it till the final,” he recalled.
“Indeed, the match against India is important and if both the teams play the final then it will be a great spectacle.”
Sarfraz admitted that besides India all other teams were also strong and no one should take any team lightly. “I looked at the list of the players of all the teams and feel that every team is competitive. Hong Kong has qualified after winning the final of the qualifying round while Afghanistan is also carrying a good number of talented players. So we have to take every contest seriously if we want to win the cup,” observed Sarfraz.
To a questions regarding his own poor performance with the bat, Sarfraz said he is doing his best to improve in every game improving get over the lean patch. “In Zimbabwe, I tried hard and showed improvement in batting. Inshallah, I will try to perforwell with the bat in the coming days,” he said.
It may be mentioned here that chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq had also expressed his concern about Sarfraz’s poor run with the willow.
Moreover, replying to a question about not grooming a second wicketkeeper as his replacement in case of any injury, Sarfraz said it was not necessary to groom a wicketkeeper with the national team. “Muhammad Rizwan and M Hasan are being groomed with the national A team as wicketkeepers,” he disclosed. “The A teams have a hectic schedule of activities in coming two and half months in the UAE against different teams. And in case of injury to me, the team can call any of them as both the teams will be in the UAE for most of the remaining year,” he said.
“Besides, since the time I have been elevated to captaincy, Pakistan have never played a full series of four rr five Tests But whenever we will be playing a long series, we will surely take along a second wicketkeeper,” he added.Sarfraz admitted that since the World Cup is drawing nearer, Pakistan team will have to find a winning combination and show better results in the Asia Cup.
He said seasoned all-rounder Muhammad Hafeez is still part of the World Cup’s pool of players and whenever the team would need him he would get his place in the team.
Sarfraz denied that he had gained weight and claimed that his last fitness test proved to be quite good.
About India’s decision to give rest to their captain Virat Kohli, Sarfraz said it was their own decision. However, when asked if he would consider taking rest at some point of his career, he replied: “It is just the start of my career, so there should be no question about taking rest at this stage.”
To a question he said pitches in the UAE were expected to be slow and the spinners could play a vital role there.
He praised the work of the foreign coaches and trainers and said the team is showing definite improvement in all departments of the game including fitness and fielding.
He said though Pakistan lacked fast bowlers who could bowl at nearly 150km, Pakistan had a very good mix of genuine pacers and medium pacers to challenge any team.

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India batsmen will struggle if Australia bowlers find swing: Ponting

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Mumbai:Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting feels that Indian batsmen will struggle Down Under in the four-Test series later this year if the embattled Aussie bowlers find swing during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
The world No 1 Test team’s 1-4 thrashing in England has raised Australian hopes amid gloom as they prepare to take on Virat Kohli’s inconsistent side that has lost six out of eight Tests overseas in 2018 so far.
After losing 1-2 in South Africa, India went to England hoping to end their misery but were humiliated once again by James Anderson and Co, powered by swing and seam. India last won a Test in Australia about a decade ago.
“If the ball does swing or seam around a lot then India will find it difficult in Australia. Any time we saw India struggle through the England series was when the ball moved,” Ponting was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“As soon as the ball started to move in the air, or seam, the Indian batsmen will always struggle. It’s no different to when Australia go to the subcontinent and the ball spins from Day 1. We always struggle with that as well.”
Ponting added that barring South Africa, no team has been successful playing away from home.
“It’s a 22-yard strip and you’ve got to find a way to get the job done. Most teams find it difficult (to win in Australia) and that’s the way Test cricket has been for a long time. South Africa are the team over the last 10-15 years that have been able to do it more than anyone else,” he said.
The former Australia captain said captaincy is 30-40 percent being in control of what is happening on the field. “I’ve never sat back and tried to analyse what playing captains do as I know when I was captain on field is about 30-40 per cent of what you need to be in control of,” Ponting said.
“The rest of it happens behind closed doors or in the change rooms and quite often back in the hotel when you’ve got time to yourself. Trying to find ways to spend time with your teammates, learn about them inside out and trying to find a way to make them perform better on the field.”
India’s tour of Australia 2018-19 begins on November 21 with a three-match T20I series, followed by four-Test series and will conclude with a three-match ODI series in mid-January.

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I don’t have to prove anything to anyone: Jadeja

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Dubai :Ravindra Jadeja kept count of the number of days he was out of India’s One-day squad. Once in, he made it count with four wickets and stated “I don’t have” to prove anything to anyone.
The left-arm spinner, who is also a handy bat, returned, in his own words, after around 480 days, with very impressive figures of 4/29 and bagged the Man-of-the-Match Award in India’s seven-wicket win over Bangladesh in the Asia Cup.
“I will always remember this comeback because I returned to the team after a gap of around 480 days. The earlier gaps have not been this long,” Jadeja told reporters at the post-match press conference. Making a statement of sorts, he said, “I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. What my ability is, I need to sharpen it. I don’t have to show anyone what I can do. I need to challenge myself.”
With less than a year left for the 2019 World Cup, Jadeja might have sent a timely reminder to the selectors about his prowess but said that he was not thinking that far ahead. “The World Cup is still some time away, we’re going to play a lot of matches before that, and I can’t comment on that yet. My ambition is to perform the way I did today whenever I get the opportunity. Can’t think about it now. My focus is to perform in this series.”
Jadeja, back in the Indian One-Day International team for the first time since July 2017, foxed the Bangladesh batting line-up with his smart bowling. “Even in Test cricket, because the last few series have been overseas, I haven’t been getting chances consistently. So I was determined that whenever I get the chance I will perform, that’s all that I can control. I was only focused about my own game and how I can improve further,” he said.
The Saurashtra cricketer is known for his ability to bowl his spinning deliveries quickly. “On a normal wicket, the ball goes through quickly after bouncing so it doesn’t give the batsman as much time. But on a slow wicket you have to bowl with more effort,” said Jadeja.
Regarding the last-minute developments prior to his latest limited overs comeback, he said, “I didn’t know that I got a call for the one-day team because I was playing in the Vijay Hazare trophy. I didn’t know what is going on here. Day before, I got a call from one of the selectors who asked me to be ready as I might have to go to Dubai.”
“I was playing Test cricket. The last few series were away so I didn’t play any role in them. I was concentrating on what is in my control, how to improve my game in away conditions. When I got a chance in England, I did well. Here, unfortunately, Axar (Patel) got injured and I got my opportunity and did well.”
Asked about Sunday’s Super Four match against arch-rivals Pakistan, he said, “Be it India-Pakistan or any other country, playing for India is a matter of pride. But India-Pakistan is something everyone is excited about.”

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Dhawan achieves unique feat as India beat Bangladesh

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Dubai: India remained unbeaten in the ongoing Asia Cup 2018 tournament after easing past Bangladesh in their first Super Four encounter, beating them by seven wickets.
While stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma played a captain’s knock of 83 runs, Shikhar Dhawan too played his part by contributing 40 runs.
However, early on during the Pakistan innings, Dhawan achieved a unique feat after he claimed four catches in the match, becoming the seventh Indian fielder to do so in an ODI.
The 32-year-old completed the catches of Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Shakib Al Hasan, Mehidy Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman as Bangladesh faltered to 173 runs.
In terms of this achievement, this list includes the likes of Sunil Gavaskar ( vs Pakistan, 1985), Mohammad Azharuddin (vs Pakistan 1997), Sacxhin Tendulkar (vs Pakistan, 1998), Rahul Dravid (vs West Indies 1999), Mohammad Kaif (vs Sri Lanka, 2003) and VVS Laxman ( vs Zimbabwe , 2004).
India will once again lock horns with Pakistan on Sunday, this time in the Super Four stage. Their upcoming match comes just days after a dominant Men in Blue team outclassed Sarfraz Ahmed’s men by eight wickets in their Group A encounter.

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