Pakistan gear up for do-or-die clash


Out-of-form Ahmed Shahzad dropped


Pakistan has dropped opening batsman Ahmed Shahzad for team’s ICC Champions Trophy match against South Africa.
Young opener Fakhar Zaman, who played three T20Is against West Indies earlier, is set to make the ODI debut today.
“We have made two changes in the team, Ahmad Shahzad isn’t playing and Wahab is obviously out due to injury. Fakhar has been brought in for Ahmed and Junaid will replace Wahab,” said Pakistan’s captain Sarfraz Ahmed at press conference.
Sarfraz added that Fakhar will open the innings with Azhar Ali against South Africa on Wednesday.
Pakistan suffered a heavy 124 runs defeat in the first match of Champions Trophy by India and face an uphill task to bounce back in the tournament.
However, the young captain is confident that team is ready to bounce back and have moved forward from disappointing defeat against India.
“We were certainly disappointed after defeat by India, but we have now moved on and ready for South Africa’s match. I am confident that we will bounce back in the tournament,” he said.
Talking about the India match, Sarfraz said that gone is gone and the team is focused on the next match.
“We are focusing on our match against South Africa, we have moved on from the defeat against India,” he said.
“We might have made some mistakes, youngsters were possibly under pressure of event’s magnitude, we all will learn with time,” said Sarfraz.
Meanwhile, Mickey Arthur has no doubt Pakistan will be “up for the fight” when they face his native South Africa in the Champions Trophy after a humiliating defeat by arch-rivals India.
Pakistan’s crushing 124-run loss to title-holders India in their tournament opener at Edgbaston on Sunday was labelled as the “Mother of all mismatches” by the Indian Express newspaper.
Yet, worryingly for Pakistan coach Arthur, there is the potential for an even more lopsided match when they return to Edgbaston on Wednesday — and that’s not simply because South Africa are top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) ODI ranking while Pakistan are eighth.
Pakistan were outplayed in every department by an India side who were nowhere near their best.
Having conceded 319 for three as India’s top order ran riot, Pakistan were dismissed for just 164, having never once threatened a rain-adjusted target of 289 in 41 overs.
It led former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, to slam the current team’s “clueless” batting and “abysmal fielding”.
Now, in the space of just a few days, Pakistan must somehow raise their game to beat a South Africa side who defeated Sri Lanka by 96 runs at the Oval on Saturday in their opening Group B fixture if they are to have any chance of reaching the semi-finals.
Arthur suggested too many Pakistan players had suffered ‘stage fright’ against India in front of a capacity crowd of more than 24,000.
“My issue is fear,” he said. “My issue is getting out there and really looking to take the game on. The worrying thing for me is we just do the basics wrong.
“We drop simple catches. We don’t run well enough between wickets. We don’t understand when to bowl our variations.”
But Arthur, a former coach of both South Africa and Australia, was adamant all was far from lost. “We’ll be thinking firmly of coming back and beating South Africa,” he said. “Because that’s what I think our players can do. So, we’re going to be up for the fight.”
Pakistan will be without Wahab Riaz after he was ruled out of the rest of the tournament on Monday with an ankle injury sustained when falling in his delivery stride against India.—AFP

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