With the World Cup just around the corner, we here at ProperGaanda decided to take a look at our team’s history, and see if they will be able to bring home the gold.
The first player under the spotlight is Sarfraz Ahmed, our team captain.
Sarfaraz Ahmed was born on 22 May 1987 in Karachi, to a family with a printing press business. His mother, Akeela Banu, has ancestors from Uttar Pradesh, India and his father died in 2006. In his youth, he loved cricket and dreamed of playing for the national team. However, no one actually thought he would be able to achieve his goal.
Sarfaraz’s notable achievement during the early days of his career was winning the ICC U-19 World Cup in 2006 where he led the Pakistani team and defeated India in the final in a low-scoring encounter. Sarfaraz was called up by Pakistan as a cover for Kamran Akmal who had a finger injury in the one-day series between India and Pakistan in November 2007.
He made his ODI debut in the final match of the series, on 18 November 2007. He didn’t get a chance to bat as Pakistan had won the match before he was needed to bat. He would eventually take over the position as captain for the Asia Cup from Kamran because of his talent.
Rise to Stardom
Due to the first frequent losses, he was selected for Pakistan’s fifth match of the event against South Africa where he scored 49 runs off 49 balls and took 6 catches as wicket-keeper to equal the one day international record for most dismissals (6 dismissals). Also he equalled Adam Gilchrist’s record for the most dismissals as a wicketkeeper in a single World Cup innings (6).
He was rewarded with the Man of the Match award. In his second match in the world cup he scored 101* against Ireland and he was again named the Man of the Match. The win gave Pakistan a spot in the Quarterfinals of the World Cup.
After Misbah retired from the ODI format of the game after 2015 Cricket World Cup, Sarfraz was emerging to be a potential successor. However the PCB went with Azhar Ali for the captaincy and considering Sarfaraz led the Pakistan U-19 team, appointed him as the vice-captain of the ODI team.
During the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle, Sarfaraz stabilized the Pakistan innings with a knock of 96 runs in just 85 balls, falling just four runs short of a century when he was bowled by Sri Lankan pacer Dhammika Prasad. During his knock he became the 7th Pakistani wicketkeeper to reach 1000 Test runs, in 28 inns, jointly the fastest Pakistani wicket-keeper with Imtiaz Ahmed. The knock also earned him the Man of the Match award.
Sarfaraz was dropped from the T20 series that followed the Test series against Sri Lanka. Many fans back home were shocked and started to raise questions. This is when Pakistani coach Waqar Younis said on 6 August that Sarfraz is a key Pakistani player and he should be the next T20 captain of Pakistan. Due to a foot injury sustained by usual One day captain Azhar Ali, Sarfaraz became the captain for the third ODI against Zimbabwe on 5 October 2015. He recorded first win in his debut match as captain. His success as thus far made him the perfect candidate to be captain.
Captain Sarfaz Ahmed
After a horrendous T20 World Cup 2016 campaign, the T20I captain Shahid Afridi was sacked and the PCB appointed Sarfaraz captain of the national T20 team on 5 April 2016. He won his first match in the only T20I against England by nine wickets.
Under his captaincy Pakistan won 11 consecutive T20 series matches.
On 9 February 2017 following the resignation of then captain Azhar Ali from ODI captaincy, Sarfaraz Ahmed was chosen to succeed him thus making him a full time limited overs captain of Pakistan. He was also made vice-captain for the Pakistan Test team.
His first major tournament as the captain though was 2017 ICC Champions Trophy. In the pool matches, Pakistan lost to India, but went on to win against South Africa and Sri Lanka to enter semi-finals. In the semi-final, Pakistan beat the hosts England comprehensively to enter Pakistan’s first Champions Trophy final. In the final against arch-rivals India, Pakistan posted a massive total of 338 and won the match convincingly to become the champions. This type of win, especially after already losing to India in the tournament, won him huge favor back home.
In 2018 Pakistan was knocked out in the ASIA Cup Semifinal after being defeated by 37 runs by Bangladesh. Later his team defeated the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 champions, West Indies with a whitewash in a 3 match series. Pakistan is Number 1 in T20 Internationals as of November 2018.
In January 2019, during the second ODI of the series against South Africa, Sarfaraz was caught on the stump mics using a racial slur towards Andile Phehlukwayo. He played in the third ODI match, but was then suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the next four matches, missing the last two ODIs and the first two T20Is of the tour.
In April 2019, he was named as the captain of Pakistan’s squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Can he win us the World Cup?
It’s hard to tell at this point, but by the looks of the way Captain Sarfraz Ahmed galvanizes his teams to unexpected victories, I wouldn’t be surprised. He is one of the most successful Captains Pakistan has ever had, and if anyone is to bring home the trophy, it would be him.