‘The pressure is on India only’

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed says that the pressure is all on India ahead of their clash with their bitter rivals in the Champions Trophy on Sunday.

The captain believes that nobody will be expecting Pakistan, who are ranked eighth in ODIs, to beat India who are among the tournament favourites.

He said in his pre-match press conference: “The pressure is on India only.

“There is no pressure on us. We are standing at No. 8 in the rankings. We cannot fall below this.”

While strictly speaking that may not be true as Pakistan could yet slip behind the West Indies into ninth by the September cut-off for automatic qualification, Sarfraz likely thinks that his team are on an upward trajectory.

Pakistan have been accused of being stuck in an outdated model of ODI cricket but the skipper is keen for his team to break out of that mold.

He added: “We knew that we needed to play a different brand of cricket.

“And it’s changing. Certainly in terms of the brand of cricket we play. We’re working on it. It’s a work in progress. I’m comfortable where we’re at.

“We’ve worked massively on our ball rotation and our strike rates. It was very interesting to read the other day – I go through the stats quite regularly – that in the last year we’ve scored the third-most amount of 300s. England are way, way ahead, but Pakistan is number three on that list. And I think that’s testimony to the brand of cricket that we are starting to play.

“The team that’s going to win this competition is the team that can strike. Gone are the days of just containing through the middle overs. Gone are the days of going at five-and-a-half an over, thinking you’re doing a good job.

“You’ve got to be able to take wickets. We always pick an attack to take wickets. Every one of our attack is going to be able to do something different.

“We have a left-arm swinger, we could have left-arm pace, we have the swing and hustle of Hassan, we’ve a left-arm spinner, an off-spinner and we could have a leg-spinner.

“We’ve got everything at our disposal tomorrow to allow Saf to pull the strings to make sure we can try to bowl India out, because that’s got to be priority number one. We can’t just sit back and let them score. We’ve got to attack them and we’ve got to look to bowl them out.”

Sarfraz insists that his team have a plan to tackle India and that we will see something different from Pakistan on Sunday.

He went on: “We have made a plan.

“On Sunday, you will see us doing some new things, which we have not done against India previously. We will try doing some out-of-the-box things. You will see this team playing differently.”